East Coast Bracing for Severe Weather This Afternoon

April 28, 2011; 10:42 AM
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This twitpic by @isardasorensen was taken overlooking New York Central Park during the midday of April 28, 2011.

The high-powered severe weather outbreak that claimed over two hundred lives across the South on Wednesday is finishing up its ugly business along the Atlantic Seaboard today.

While not likely to have the same ferocity of the storms over the middle of the nation in recent days, today's weather in the East has the potential to do far more than cause travel delays and foil outdoor activities.

Today started with severe thunderstorms stretching from Vermont and the Hudson Valley of New York to northern Florida.

Storms in eastern North Carolina were becoming intense with several tornado warnings being issued prior to 1:00 p.m. EDT. There have been funnel cloud and tornado sightings.

Gusty winds in northernmost New York have caused damage and power outages during the early afternoon.

These thunderstorms will press eastward into this afternoon, rattling the Interstate 95 corridor from Boston to New York City to Philadelphia to Richmond to Savannah to Jacksonville.

Other cities at risk include Albany, N.Y.; Hartford, Conn.; Norfolk, Va.; Raleigh, N.C.; and Charleston, S.C.

Additional gusty thunderstorms will even target some the Eastern Townships of Quebec.

Motorists and pedestrians will need to stay alert for rapidly changing weather conditions and be prepared to alter their activities.

How Bad?

AccuWeather.com meteorologists are not expecting a repeat of the swarm and intensity of tornadoes from Wednesday.

Unfortunately, much of the region is very heavily populated and the risk of damaging storms and casualties is elevated as a result.

The team of severe weather experts feel the greatest risk of tornadoes lies from southeastern Pennsylvania and the interior of New Jersey, southward to eastern North Carolina.

There may also be a pocket of tornado-producing storms over parts of northern and western New England into the lower Hudson Valley into the first part of the afternoon.

Storms in the Virginia Tidewater and eastern North Carolina could be the most violent of today's severe weather and may linger into the first part of the evening.

Cool waters of the Atlantic will work against or at least weaken the storms somewhat as the approach the immediate coastal areas of the mid-Atlantic and New England. However, that may not be enough to totally prevent locally damaging storms and urban flooding problems even in these locations.

A greater number of severe thunderstorms across the East Coast will produce wind gusts to and above 60 mph.

Now that some trees are sporting leaves along the Atlantic Seaboard, the increased wind resistance may allow a large number of trees or large limbs to come crashing down in the gusts.

Never seek shelter under a tree during a storm for this reason as well as because of the increased chance of being struck by lightning.

Since the forward motion of the storm system will increase today, major river and widespread stream flooding is not likely along the East Coast.

However, training-effect storms did just that in portions of the Appalachians Wednesday night. Multiple counties in upstate New York were battling high water this morning as a result.

Significant rises in levels on interior rivers such as the Susquehanna and Mohawk were occurring with moderate flooding in unprotected areas.

The storms can still bring heavy enough rainfall in a short period of time to lead to urban and poor drainage area flash flooding throughout the Atlantic Seaboard.

Finally, some of the strongest thunderstorms will pound communities with large hail that can damage vehicles and break windows of homes and businesses.

Better Weather Ahead

The weather has already stabilized over the central and southern Appalachians. Drier, more stable weather will reach most coastal communities by early tonight.

However, despite cooler air moving in, there could still be another line of gusty thundershowers with hail that reaches the central Appalachians this evening, perhaps catching some people off guard.

These thunderstorms would first form over the Ohio Valley and southern Great Lakes area this afternoon. Fortunately, the storms in the Midwest today are unlikely to produce tornadoes.

Despite the thunderstorms shifting offshore, not all of the East will enjoy dry weather on Friday. Thunderstorms will linger over South Florida, while spotty showers keep the Northeast's interior damp.

Saturday is shaping up to be a sunny, tranquil day over much of the eastern third of the nation.

AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski contributed to the content of this story.

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