(Jackson) Residents of the Midwestern and Southern United States were warned Friday to prepare for severe weather, including tornadoes.

Meteorologists said conditions resemble those that spawned a tornado last week that killed at least 21 people in Mississippi.

The U.S. National Weather Service said thunderstorms could generate hail, severe gusts and tornadoes that could travel long distances on the ground.

The cities of Memphis, Tennessee; Little Rock and Jonesboro, Arkansas; and Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, should prepare for the worst starting Friday afternoon. Eastern Iowa, western and northern Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas should also be on guard, an expert said.

People in these areas should stock up, prepare for power outages, avoid places vulnerable to falling trees and hail, and park their vehicles indoors if possible, meteorologists advised. .

Bad weather could even hit Chicago, where experts have warned of a “rare, but severe weather threat” that includes high winds, tornadoes and sizable hailstones.

Powerful southerly winds carry massive amounts of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico northward, where they will interact with this gathering weather system.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has ordered the closure of government offices in some areas as sleet, snow and high winds are forecast. Blizzard and ice warnings were issued in several locations.