A dangerous day for weather was forecast Monday in portions of Texas and Oklahoma with at least 2 million people in the path of possible tornadoes.
"An outbreak of tornadoes, some potentially long-track and violent, is expected today into this evening," the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) warned.
The prediction center placed parts of the eastern Texas Panhandle and western Oklahoma under a "high risk" area for severe weather, the most serious of SPC’s five risk categories.
"This event should result in a significant threat to life and property," the center added.
The entire Oklahoma City metro area was within the "high risk" area.
"I’d certainly label this the 'nightmare scenario,'" meteorologist Mike Smith tweeted, with a display of the storms that are predicted for later Monday.
The latest forecast from SPC has increased the tornado probabilities from 30% to 45% from northwest Texas into central Oklahoma, the center said in its midday forecast. This means there's a 45% chance of a tornado forming within 25 miles of any spot in the area.
The last time a 45% tornado outlook was issued was before an outbreak in Oklahoma and Kansas on April 14, 2012, when 122 tornadoes formed, killing 6 people.
More isolated but still potentially dangerous severe weather, including tornadoes, is possible in surrounding parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas, the center warned.
Schools are closed across Oklahoma ahead of the bad weather. Many of the largest school systems in the center of the state (as well as the University of Oklahoma campus) will be closed all day Monday, which appears to be the first time such a mass closure has occurred in central Oklahoma on the night before severe weather, according to the Weather Underground.
Atmospheric scientist Roger Edwards tweeted Monday that “this is the rare kind of event that may take many lives. Pray I’m wrong.”
The wild weather Monday will continue a pattern of severe storms that have battered the region: Nearly 40 preliminary tornadoes were reported across Nebraska and Kansas to end this past week, and the severe weather continued on Saturday, AccuWeather said.
Forecasters say four tornadoes struck parts of West Texas in severe weather that damaged some homes and businesses in the San Angelo area on Saturday, the National Weather Service said.
Here is a zoomed in image of our High Risk for 20 May 2019 for use in social media. pic.twitter.com/TZd9Fr3atW
— NWS SPC (@NWSSPC) May 20, 2019
Looking ahead, more bad weather is forecast the rest of the month for the central U.S.: "It looks like there is no end in sight to this very active pattern of severe weather into the end of May," AccuWeather Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer said.
High heat will also be another big weather story as May continues: As the Memorial Day weekend rolls in, look for a "death ridge" of heat in the Southeast, forecasters warned.
"Extreme heat and very dry conditions for extended period of time. Days 6-10 averages are 8-10°F above normal in the ensemble mean," meteorologist Ryan Maue tweeted. "Huge signal for record highs – and long duration!"