A ferocious storm system that experts say is more typical of June than December swept southeastern states Wednesday, killing at least seven people. The system snarled holiday travel in much of the eastern US and caused forecasters to warn of a "particularly dangerous situation" for the first time since the summer of 2014, NBC News reports. The victims included a 7-year-old boy in Marshall County, Miss., who died as what forecasters described as a "very large, very dangerous" tornado threw cars off roads and wrecked buildings, the Clarion-Ledger reports. Other tornadoes killed at least three other people in Mississippi, two in Tennessee, and an 18-year-old woman in Arkansas who died when high winds toppled a tree onto her home, NBC reports.
Authorities warn that the unseasonable storms could continue overnight and turn Christmas decorations into a hazard. "If you go through these neighborhoods, there are a lot of people very proud of what they've put out and they've got stuff everywhere—all these ornaments and deer and everything else," an emergency official in Jackson, Tenn., tells the AP. "They're not manufactured to withstand that kind of wind speed, so they become almost like little missiles." The weather is also unusually warm, with temperatures forecast to be in the 70s for much of the eastern US on Christmas Day, which experts tell NBC is the result of the El Nino weather pattern. People in the western US appear to be the only ones with a chance of a white Christmas, according to the AP.