Severe storms spawn dangerous tornadoes over southern US
A severe thunderstorm outbreak triggered strong and dangerous tornadoes across portions of the Deep South on Monday as a potent storm system gathered over the Mississippi Valley.
The storm will continue to tap into warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico as winds twist across different altitudes in the atmosphere, setting the stage for volatile weather conditions.
"The variance of wind direction at different heights in the atmosphere will continue to cause some of the thunderstorms to rotate," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.
"This is a significant threat to lives and property as some tornadoes may be on the ground for more than a few minutes," Sosnowski said.
At the same time, an area of high pressure will quickly build into the Plains behind this system, dragging cold air south from Canada.
The clash of these air masses will create unsettled conditions from the central Gulf coast to middle Mississippi and Tennessee valleys.
Storms are expected to strengthen into the evening hours, and they are likely to organize into a solid line.
"All of the severe thunderstorm threats, including damaging wind gusts, torrential downpours, hail and isolated tornadoes, will continue for a time into the evening hours, becoming even more dangerous in the dark," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham.
The strongest storms are projected to develop in western Tennessee, western Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and will threaten Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee, as well as Jackson, Mississippi; Lake Charles and Alexandria, Louisiana.
One severe thunderstorm spun up a tornado in central Louisiana around midday Monday, prompting a rare tornado emergency to be issued for Alexandria, Louisiana.
"Travelers on interstates 20, 22, 40, 55 and others in the area should plan for rapidly changing conditions along their route as these storms track eastward," Buckingham said.
Even outside of the stronger storms that erupt, plenty of moisture across the region can lead to downpours.
"Any thunderstorms can produce torrential downpours which could sharply reduce visibility," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Edwards said.
Motorists should also be wary of ponding on roads and the risk of hydroplaning.
Most storms are forecast to gradually weaken late on Monday night as the front continues to push to the east.
"Once the threat for thunderstorms track eastward later Monday night, cold air will rush in behind the passage of a cold front," Buckingham said.
Showers and thunderstorms will shift into the Southeast on Tuesday where the environment will be less conducive for severe weather. However, storms may still produce periods of heavy rain and gusty winds.
Temperatures will be well below average on Tuesday morning into Wednesday across the lower Mississippi Valley and much of the South in the wake of the front.
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