Severe weather outbreak looms for hard-hit South
An expansive and potent storm is taking aim at the southern United States, AccuWeather forecasters say. The storm system is predicted to sweep across the nation this week, bringing wintry impacts to the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes and all facets of severe weather to the South Central and Southeastern states.
"Residents in portions of the South still reeling from last week's bout of destructive weather may find themselves in the path of Mother Nature's wrath once again this week," warned AccuWeather Meteorologist Mary Gilbert.
This next storm, which has already delivered beneficial rain to the Southwest, is expected to push eastward from the Rocky Mountains and into the Plains Tuesday as it pulls moisture from the Gulf of Mexico into unseasonably warm air across the south-central U.S. Temperatures are anticipated to soar into the 80s from Texas to central Kansas despite averages in the 60s and 70s there for late March.
"The combination of this moisture and heat, along with strong winds developing in the upper levels of the atmosphere, are exactly the ingredients necessary to set the stage for a potential outbreak of severe weather," said Gilbert.
Areas from central Texas to southeastern Nebraska and southwestern Iowa are advised to remain on alert through Tuesday night. All types of severe weather are possible, from hail and damaging wind gusts with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 90 mph, to even some isolated tornadoes.
"Portions of central and northern Texas, as well as Oklahoma and Kansas, can be in the bull's-eye of the isolated tornado risk," Gilbert added. These thunderstorms, severe or not, can also produce torrential downpours that can trigger flash flooding and reduced visibility on roadways.
The threat of severe weather and downpours will continue traveling eastward Wednesday and Wednesday night into areas from eastern Texas to the Florida Panhandle and as far north as southern Illinois. Severe thunderstorms are likely to impact some of the same areas that were slammed with severe weather just last week on March 22, and experts are warning residents to be prepared for more dangerous storms.
"While locations from western Kentucky to far eastern Texas may see storms containing damaging winds, flooding downpours, hail and an isolated tornado, the greatest risk for tornadoes is expected to be across an area from central Louisiana through Mississippi into western Alabama," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Isaac Longley. Once again, the AccuWeather Local StormMax™ for this event will be 90 mph in the gustiest thunderstorms.
Potentially severe thunderstorms are expected to arrive by Wednesday morning for cities like Little Rock, Arkansas; Memphis, Tennessee; and Cape Girardeau, Missouri, while other locations including New Orleans will likely wait until the afternoon. Just last week, a New Orleans suburb took a direct hit from an EF3 tornado.
Flash flooding will again be a concern Wednesday and Wednesday night, especially as rivers remain at fairly high levels after the last outbreak of rain and storms.
"It is likely that the severe thunderstorms move eastward at a swift pace Wednesday night and could be racing along at 50 mph or more," AccuWeather Meteorologist Ryan Adamson said. "This fast motion may not allow people in the path of the storms much time to react and take shelter."
More than 23 million are at risk for some type of severe weather Tuesday, while the number grows to more than 55 million Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center. The SPC has issued a moderate risk for severe weather Wednesday, which is the second-highest risk category for severe thunderstorms issued by the center. More than 4.3 million live in the area covered by a moderate risk.
Both Tuesday and Wednesday are expected to have the threat of nighttime tornadoes.
"A major concern about this outbreak is that severe thunderstorms will likely continue into the overnight hours, which can be especially dangerous," said Longley, who advised those in the region to keep a pair of shoes, a flashlight and charged electronic devices nearby when they head to sleep each night.
Forecasters say anyone planning to be out in the elements might want to reconsider travel plans as flooding on roadways can be incredibly difficult to see at night and conditions can often change in an instant.
"It remains critical that anyone in the potential path of severe weather has a way to receive time-sensitive and potentially life-saving warnings," urged Gilbert.
By Thursday, much of the stormy weather will continue to shift eastward, bringing with it the potential for severe weather across much of the East Coast. There can be strong wind gusts, small hail and even flash flooding from torrential downpours.
"By the end of the week, the storm is forecast to finally push off the East coast and move out over the Atlantic Ocean, effectively ending the opportunity for additional potent weather," Gilbert explained.
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