Cold snap to follow southern US severe weather threat
After storms bring the risks of damaging hail, strong winds and even tornadoes late this week, a wintry pattern will develop in the South and persist right through the official start of spring.
Storms will threaten areas of the south-central U.S. on Thursday before they track farther east on Friday.
The same large storm that will be responsible for bringing snow to the north-central United States to end the week will also cause severe weather and localized flooding problems over the Southern states during the same time period, AccuWeather forecasters say. In the wake of the storm, unseasonably cold air will settle over the region.
“A great deal of Gulf of Mexico moisture will be funneled northward and into this storm," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Courtney Travis said, adding that this will increase the potential for flooding downpours from some of the heavier thunderstorms, especially in areas where the ground remains wet from prior storms this winter.
The potential for localized urban and rural area flash flooding will extend from central and eastern Texas to Louisiana, eastern Kansas and Missouri with this storm into Thursday night, AccuWeather meteorologists say.
"The first severe storms are likely during the afternoon hours on Thursday," Travis said.
The earliest storms are likely to erupt near or just west of the Interstate 35 corridor in Texas and Oklahoma and will almost immediately become severe.
"The first big thunderstorms are likely to be hail producers, but then the severe weather threat will shift to high winds," Travis said. There is the potential for hail to the size of baseballs -- which can cause severe injury and considerable property damage.
"The risk of tornadoes is low with this event but not non-existent," Travis added.
Metro areas including Austin and Dallas, Texas; Oklahoma City; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Shreveport, Louisiana; will be in the severe weather threat zone into Thursday night. There is a likelihood of thunderstorms to be more widespread within the general area from Dallas to Shreveport, according to AccuWeather meteorologists. In the Dallas metro area, the storms could be at their peak and most dangerous during the evening rush hour Thursday.
According to the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center, a population of over 29 million is at risk of some form of severe weather into Thursday night.
The risk of severe weather Friday will be substantially lower compared to Thursday as storms track eastward. However, a pocket of heavy to locally severe thunderstorms may be possible in part of the Southeastern states, especially if a secondary area of low pressure develops along an advancing cold front.
Severe thunderstorms are most likely to develop from southeastern Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle throughout the day and into Friday night. Some severe storms may extend well into western Georgia as well. The greatest threats from the storms will be strong wind gusts and flash flooding. However, a couple of tornadoes and/or waterspouts will also be possible.
Frigid air to bring risk of freeze to southern US
Spring will officially begin in the Northern Hemisphere on March 20 at 5:24 p.m. EDT, but it won’t exactly feel like spring has sprung over parts of the South next week.
A sprawling mass of cold air in the wake of the front will eliminate any threat of destructive thunderstorms over the south-central region and much of the Southeast. However, there may still be a few robust thunderstorms over the Florida Peninsula as the cold front advances.
The same cold air will allow a frost to develop on multiple nights and may even cause temperatures to hover below the freezing mark throughout the interior South. Following the abnormal warmth from the winter where temperatures from Dec. 1 through Feb. 28 were 3 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit above the historical average, buds, blossoms and pollen are well ahead of the average pace by several weeks.
The upcoming frosts and freezes may cause damage to the blossoms.
For example, temperatures are forecast to dip into the mid-30s in the Atlanta metro area from Friday night through Sunday night. This means that in the outlying suburbs, temperatures are likely to dip close to freezing and, in some cases, into the upper 20s. This historical average low temperature for the middle of March in the area is in the mid-40s.
Daytime highs will mainly range from 5 to 15 degrees below the historical average from this weekend to early next week in the South Central and Southeast states. A typical high for Atlanta in mid-March is in the mid-60s.
In portions of the southern High Plains, temperature departures from the historical average may be more like 20-30 degrees. In El Paso, Texas, temperatures may be no better than the 40s both days of the weekend, compared to an average high near 70.
"Despite the warm winter and advance of the vegetation, most agricultural interests tend to avoid planting too early in the spring [due to] the risk of frosts and freezes," AccuWeather Agricultural Meteorologist Dale Mohler said.
Forecasters tracking a potential winter storm
As an added reminder that spring weather is not yet firmly in place, AccuWeather meteorologists will be tracking a storm system that is forecast to move out of the Southwest, across the Gulf of Mexico and then toward the southern Atlantic coast from this weekend to the middle of next week.
"This storm has the potential to bring some wet snow or a wintry mix to parts of west-central Texas on Sunday," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Joe Lundberg said.
Depending on the track and strength of this storm as it reaches the Atlantic coast next week, it could generate some snow or mixed precipitation over the southern Appalachians and Piedmont locations in Georgia and the Carolinas.
Meteorologists will be monitoring that same storm closely to determine if it will take a potential northward jaunt along the Atlantic coast as next week progresses.
Want next-level safety, ad-free? Unlock advanced, hyperlocal severe weather alerts when you subscribe to Premium+ on the AccuWeather app. AccuWeather Alerts™ are prompted by our expert meteorologists who monitor and analyze dangerous weather risks 24/7 to keep you and your family safer.Report a Typo
Top StoriesMore Stories