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Some Gulf Coast schools and government offices close for severe weather

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The Mobile County Health Department and its Family Health locations are among the facilities closing today because of the threat of violent weather. Forecasters with the National Weather Service are predicting severe storms, with wind gusts of up to eighty miles per hour. There’s also the possibility of tornadoes as strong as EF2’s. Other governmental offices and schools are responding as well.

Emergency workers rescued people from flooded homes and cars in a Texas town, residents in Mississippi were warned to flee over fears that a levee would fail, and Louisiana schools and government offices closed Wednesday as storms brought high winds and the threat of tornadoes.

Severe thunderstorms were expected across parts of the Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle and there was the potential for tornadoes, a few of which may be strong, and damaging winds, which may exceed seventy five miles per hour, the National Weather Service warned.

Heavy rain, tornadoes, hail and damaging wind gusts were all possible across the Gulf Coast and the Deep South on Wednesday, according to meteorologist Ashton Robinson Cook with the NWS Weather Prediction Center.

In Texas, several people were rescued from homes and vehicles Wednesday morning when flooding inundated parts of Jasper County, near the Louisiana line, authorities said.

"The City of Kirbyville remains under water and is still the major concern at this time," the Jasper County Sheriff's Office said on social media.

All major roads into Kirbyville, a town of about 2,000 people, were shut down early Wednesday due to the flooding, the sheriff's office said.

In Mississippi, the sheriff sent out an urgent warning Wednesday to people in parts of Yazoo County, just northwest of Jackson.

"If you or someone that you know lives in the Eastbrook subdivision on Highway 16 in Yazoo County you need to evacuate IMMEDIATELY!!!," the Yazoo County Sheriff's Office posted on social media. "The levee is about to break on the lake and the houses will flood. Please get out ASAP!!!"

It was not immediately known how many residents were affected by the evacuation order.

In Louisiana, state office buildings closed Wednesday since the storms were expected to blast the state during rush hour, the governor's office announced. They also asked drivers to limit travel if possible and warned that high winds were expected to affect large trucks.

One of the nation's largest universities – Louisiana State University – announced its campus would close Wednesday due to "the developing severe weather situation." Residence halls were remaining open.

As the workday began Wednesday morning in Louisiana, more than 100,000 customers were already without power, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks outages nationwide. Another 30,000 customers were without power in Mississippi.

A vigorous storm system that developed across the southern Rockies and moisture moving across the Gulf of Mexico combined to produce a series of thunderstorms from Texas' south plains and panhandle eastward across Louisiana and Mississippi, Robinson Cook said.

There was hail in central Texas on Tuesday and radar estimates of up to a foot of rainfall over the past 24 hours, with heavier totals just northwest of Lake Charles, Louisiana, Robinson Cook said.

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