ATLANTA (AP) — Forecasters say they expect severe flooding and a tornado outbreak across the South.

Parts of Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee on Thursday will be at high risk of strong tornadoes that can stay on the ground for miles, The national Storm Prediction Center warned.

Some of the metropolitan areas in the path of Thursday's storms include Memphis and Nashville in Tennessee; and Birmingham and Huntsville in Alabama.

The environment as the storms move in will be “very favorable for long-track strong tornadoes," the Storm Prediction Center said in its latest briefing.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a state of emergency for 46 counties ahead of the predicted severe weather. At least two tornado warnings were issued shortly after noon in central and west Alabama, but there were no immediate damage reports.

A flash flood watch Thursday covered northern parts of Alabama and Georgia and portions of Tennessee and western North Carolina.

Up to 4 inches (10 centimeters) of rain — with higher amounts possible — is expected in northern Alabama, according to the National Weather Service in Huntsville.

State troopers closed all lanes of a section of Interstate 65 near Cullman after floodwaters covered the roadway.


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