Severe Thunderstorm Threat Continues Through Tonight

February 24, 2011; 11:41 PM ET
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Play video For expert analysis on the severe weather, click on this video.

UPDATE 7:00 p.m. EST Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2013:

For live updates on severe weather impacting the Mississippi Valley, click here.


The threat for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes will continue tonight across the mid-Mississippi Valley region.

Overnight Update:

The threat for severe thunderstorms, including a few strong and destructive tornadoes, will persist through the overnight hours from southeast Kentucky through central and eastern Tennessee and northern Alabama. Williamsburg, Ky., Chattanooga, Tenn., Huntsville, Ala., are among the locations that could experience these destructive storms over the next few hours.

There have already been several unconfirmed reports of tornadoes and damage earlier today further west across parts of western Tennessee and Arkansas. Thunderstorms could also produce flash flooding, gusty winds and hail.

Stay alert for any impending thunderstorms and be prepared to heed immediate action should severe weather threaten.

Earlier Story:

The area of greatest concern lies from the Arkansas-Louisiana border into northern Mississippi, western Tennessee and extreme southeastern Missouri and southwestern Kentucky.

This is the zone where severe thunderstorms are expected to be most widespread and where tornadoes are most likely to form. Cities in this area include Memphis, Jackson and Union City, Tenn., and Batesville, Miss.

However, a broader area stretching farther south and east through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee is also at risk. Shreveport and Monroe, La., and Yazoo City, Miss., which was devastated by two tornadoes last year, are included in this broader zone.

People in or near the risk area need to stay alert to their local weather conditions through tonight and seek safe shelter (in the lowest, most interior room of a sturdy building) immediately if a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning is issued.

Main Points from this Story

-Risk of tornadoes and dangerous thunderstorms is highest into early tonight from Arkansas into northern Mississippi and western Tennessee.

-Severe thunderstorms will also affect areas surrounding this zone.

-People at risk should pay attention to their local weather conditions and seek safe shelter immediately if a tornado or severe thunderstorm warning is issued.

-Other risks in addition to tornadoes include damaging winds, large hail and heavy rain.

In addition to tornadoes, high winds capable of downing trees and power lines as well as hail large enough to dent vehicles and damage roofs are possible with the thunderstorms through tonight. Heavy rain will also be hazardous for drivers and may even cause flash flooding in some areas.

Thunderstorms, some strong, started erupting this morning from Oklahoma City into northwestern Texas and have since moved eastward across these states.

The air in place across this zone is warm and humid enough to support strong thunderstorm development as a strengthening storm system zips across the northern fringe of this area.

Wind shear, which is a variation of wind speed and direction with height above the ground and a necessary ingredient for severe thunderstorms, will also be strong in this zone. A significant variation of wind direction with height is lending to the tornado threat.

Another storm set to move through the central and eastern part of the country late this weekend and early next week could bring a return of severe thunderstorms to parts of the same area being affected today.

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