Heightened tornado danger to accompany severe storms in southern US into Saturday night
By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
February 24, 2019, 3:15:13 AM EST
Click here for a recap of the severe weather.
People from Louisiana and Mississippi to Kentucky need to remain vigilant for fast-moving severe thunderstorms that can contain dangerous tornadoes into Saturday night.
AccuWeather meteorologists are concerned that this will be the first significant and widespread outbreak of severe weather so far this year.
“The same system bringing blizzard conditions to the Plains this weekend will be strong enough to promote severe thunderstorms farther south and east,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Faith Eherts said.
Following the rain that triggered more flooding in the Tennessee Valley to start the weekend, thunderstorms will continue to race eastward across the lower Mississippi, Tennessee and lower Ohio river valleys into Saturday night.
The whole gamut of severe weather risks is expected during this event, including large hail, damaging wind gusts to 70 mph and tornadoes.
Tree damage and power outages may occur, and any loose outdoor furniture or decor items can become deadly projectiles in the winds.
The greatest tornado risk, including the potential for strong tornadoes, is expected to focus in and around northern and central Mississippi and western Tennessee.
However, isolated tornadoes can still occur outside of these areas.
Residents in the communities being threatened should keep a close eye on the sky and make sure they review severe weather preparedness tips.
“Conditions will be right for very quick storm motion,” Eherts said.
“People in the path of any thunderstorm with damaging wind gusts or a tornado may have only minutes to seek shelter,” she added.
If you are outside, head indoors away from windows at the first stroke of lightning or clap of thunder.
The difference between tornado watches and warnings
Is it safe to talk on your cell phone during a thunderstorm?
Identifying nature’s dangerous whirlwinds: A guide to 5 types of tornadoes
Why washing dishes or showering during a storm can be extremely dangerous
Keep your cellphone fully charged with the volume turned up and download the free AccuWeather app to receive life-saving severe weather alerts for your location.
Motorists traveling on stretches of interstates 20, 22, 40, 55 and 65 should be prepared for a drastic reduction in visibility in any thunderstorm.
Make sure to slow down in any downpour to lower the risk of hydroplaning and sliding off the road or into another vehicle.
The storms may create new and worsening flooding problems across the region.
"On the northern edge of the risk for tornadoes may be a zone for thunderstorms with large hail across portions of central Illinois," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rossio said.
Cooler, drier weather will move in behind the storms as a significant wind event unfolds over the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley.
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