Storms to target lower Mississippi, Ohio valleys into Thursday night

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
February 06, 2019, 10:53:33 AM EST

Heavy and gusty thunderstorms with isolated tornadoes are forecast to erupt in the warm zone just south and east of the track of a storm from the Plains to the Mississippi Valley from late Wednesday to Thursday night.

That storm will spread snow and ice on its northern and western flanks and may bring enough rain to cause stream and river flooding over the Ohio Valley.

The combination of surging warmth, humid air and a potent storm with a strong jet stream overhead may provide the atmosphere the right conditions for strong and possibly locally severe thunderstorms in part of the central United States.

US Midweek Jet Pattern

The greatest risk from the storms will be blinding downpours for motorists that can also cause flash flooding.

During Wednesday, heavy and gusty thunderstorms will extend from north-central Texas to southern Ohio and western West Virginia.

In some cases, wind gusts may be strong enough to break large tree limbs and knock over poorly-rooted trees. Where this occurs, sporadic power outages can occur.

While an outbreak of tornadoes is not foreseen at this time, there is the potential for a few tornadoes to be spawned over parts of the southern Plains, especially during the night time hours on Wednesday.

Tornadoes can be especially dangerous at night because the approaching funnel cloud often cannot be seen unless it is briefly illuminated by lightning.

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There is the likelihood of severe storms starting late Wednesday into Thursday from parts of north-central Texas and southeastern Oklahoma into western and northern Arkansas and southern Missouri.

In this zone, a few isolated tornadoes are possible.

Severe late Wed and Wed night

A severe thunderstorm may also extend across the Mississippi River into parts of western Kentucky and Tennessee Wednesday night.

"The most likely time period for heavy, gusty thunderstorms on a regional basis and the greatest potential for damaging winds and flash flooding will be on Wednesday night," Anderson said.

A line of heavy, gusty thunderstorms may then continue to march eastward across Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, northern Alabama, Kentucky, central and southern Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania during Thursday night.

However, since the parent storm for the activity will be moving across central Ontario and northern Quebec and away from the U.S., storms are likely to diminish in intensity from Thursday into Thursday night as they approach coastal areas of the Northeast and cross the southern Appalachians.

Download the free AccuWeather app to receive the latest forecast and any severe weather bulletins that may be issued for your location.

The risk of strong thunderstorms will end as much colder and drier air sweeps eastward at the end of the week.

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