Tornado damage reported as severe weather threat continues across southern US
A storm system that is expected to bring impactful weather to every corner of the country will bring a threat for severe thunderstorms across the South through Thursday.
Along its path, feet of snow fell across the Northwest and central Rockies while damaging wind gusts swept across Southern California and the Southwest. In addition to the severe weather threat, snow will end up accumulating along 1,500-mile-long swath of the Central states and another 700 miles over the northern tier of the Northeast.
A powerful wave of energy in the upper levels of the atmosphere will act as a driving force for an expansive area of heavy rain that is expected across much of the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys into Thursday.
In the lower levels of the atmosphere, warm, moist and unstable air surging northward out of the Gulf of Mexico will act as fuel for potential thunderstorm growth.
Because the threat for severe thunderstorms spans multiple days, residents in many major southern metro areas will need to remain alert this week for the potential of rapidly changing conditions.
The first of the severe storms initiated on Wednesday afternoon from central Louisiana into northern Mississippi. This included multiple thunderstorms that were powerful enough to spin up tornadoes.
Several tornadoes were reported in Mississippi on Wednesday afternoon and evening as severe storms blossomed over the region. The National Weather Service has yet to confirm these tornadoes and give them ratings.
One injury was reported in New Orleans after strong winds blew over scaffolding downtown as a strong storm rolled through. Small hail was also reported across the city.
Into Thursday morning:
Thunderstorms are seen on radar just prior to midnight Thursday across the Southeast.
Into Thursday morning, atmospheric ingredients are expected to remain favorable for robust thunderstorm development as the storm system slides eastward into the Deep South.
Thunderstorms will sweep through Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana into Thursday morning. These storms can remain intense with damaging winds, hail, downpours and isolated tornadoes.
Thursday into Thursday evening:
That thunderstorm activity will likely continue into the daytime on Thursday. As the parent storm system continues to mature, severe thunderstorms are expected once again.
"Storms will continue to progress eastward as a cold front moves rapidly through northern Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas," AccuWeather Storm Warning Meteorologist Michaela Heeren said.
As the anticipated cold front tracks eastward, thunderstorms are expected to consolidate in a linear fashion during the afternoon hours. As they do so, damaging straight-line winds may become the primary threat from the thunderstorm activity. Along with the wind threat, flash flooding, hail and even an isolated tornado or two cannot be ruled out.
The line of powerful thunderstorms is expected to track right to the Atlantic coast by Thursday night. Major cities such as Charleston, South Carolina; Savannah, Georgia, and Jacksonville, Florida, could experience the line of thunderstorms at night.
In the immediate wake of the thunderstorm activity across the South, a powerful cold front will sweep in, ushering in a much colder air mass. Temperatures that are expected to be in the 70s prior to thunderstorm activity across the South will be replaced with 30s and 40s for a time late week.
Portions of the mid-South and possibly a few spots in extreme northern Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, could have rain transition over to a few wet snowflakes Thursday night before dry air moves in. If that does happen, little to no accumulation is expected.
Aside from an early morning shower or thunderstorm in South Florida on Friday, the Southern and Southeastern states can expect dry and cool conditions in the wake of the departed storm system.
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