Tornadoes ripped through six states from Missouri to Georgia on Friday, killing one and leaving destruction in their wake.
The lower Ohio Valley, hit hard by a large outbreak earlier this month, bore the worst of the severe weather, with at least a half dozen twisters touching down throughout the afternoon hours.
In Jefferson County, Ill., a 60-year-old woman died when her mobile home was tossed from its loose foundation into a nearby farm field by a tornado. Another twister injured a young boy in a nearby town, according to the county coroner.
In stark contrast to the outbreak earlier this month, most of the tornadoes were short-lived and were thinner by comparison. Such funnels, known as "rope tornadoes," often inflict narrow paths of damage and rarely exceed an EF-1 classification, with winds of 112 mph or less.
National Weather Service storm surveyors have already declared damage from two tornadoes, one in Troy, Ala., and the other near Heritage Creek, Ky., as being of EF-1 variety.
The tornado which hit Troy caused some home and barn damage south of the town's airport, while the Heritage Creek tornado was just 40 yards wide and was on the ground for only five minutes.
Other scattered severe storms stretching from central Illinois to Florida dropped large hail and produced damaging wind gusts.
Hail from one severe thunderstorm that passed through Shelbyville, Ind., on Friday evening covered the ground 3 to 4 inches deep in some areas. In a scene reminiscent of the middle of winter, road crews had to be called in to clear off a busy stretch of Interstate 74.
The severe weather on Friday was just another example of how the 2012 tornado season is already off to a running start, fueled in part by the unusually warm weather.
Unfortunately, more gusty storms will be on the prowl later today from the Southeast to the lower mid-Atlantic as the same storm system responsible for Friday's tornadoes heads toward the coast.
"The storms [later today] have the potential to bring frequent lightning strikes, urban flooding, strong wind gusts and hail," says AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
While thunder could rumble anywhere from the eastern Great Lakes to the Gulf coast, severe weather looks most likely from Virginia to Georgia.
The storms and the downpours they produce could have a silver lining. Heavy rain will fall over a part of the country still suffering from drought conditions.
In the grand scheme of things, the storms today will offer little relief.
"The rain will produce some runoff which will be captured by reservoirs and lakes, but much more is needed," adds Sosnowski.
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