Authorities in Dallas urged residents to bring in pets, outdoor furniture, grills, and “anything else that could be caught up in high winds to reduce the risk of flying debris” as the city braces for a major storm on Friday.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said boats, helicopters, rescue teams and medics were on standby across the region,

“All residents should heed warnings from local officials and pay attention to weather alerts,” Abbot said. “I ask that all Texans keep those in the storm’s path and all of Texas’ first responders in their prayers as they deal with the effects of this storm.”

The storm is expected to bring hurricane-force winds and hail pellets which could reach the size of baseballs, forecasters said. In addition to Texas, residents of Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma also find themselves on the path of the storm. The system is expected to later threaten Alabama and Georgia before moving to the US Northeast.

Read more: Giant hail hammers Munich ‘like gunshots’

Fear of tornadoes

“It’s a broad and multifaceted storm,” said meteorologist Bob Oravec of the National Weather Service’s Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. “Late Saturday into Sunday, it will spread to New England and northern New York state.”

Parts of Texas and Oklahoma were under tornado watches on Friday.

“We could see some very strong tornadoes — possibly those that may stay on the ground for some time – not just the brief spin-up tornadoes,” said Lousiana meteorologist Matt Hemingway.

The National Weather Service on Friday reported  “a confirmed large and extremely dangerous tornado” roared through parts of Logan County, Arkansas.

Weather officials also warned there was a potential for 10-foot (3-meter) high waves on Alabama’s Gulf coast.

Read more: US winter storms bring rare snow to Hawaii

Parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana were also under flash flood warnings, as previous storms already raised the water levels in many streams near or at the flooding limit.

dj/dr (Reuters, AFP)

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