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Mississippi to Missouri face locally severe storms into Saturday evening

By By Kristina Pydynowski, senior meteorologist
May 02, 2016, 1:32:56 AM EDT

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Heavy thunderstorms, a few of which will become severe and trigger flash flooding, will target the middle and lower Mississippi Valley into Saturday evening.

A line of drenching thunderstorms will continue to march from eastern Louisiana to Mississippi into Saturday evening. Some of these storms will remain capable of producing damaging wind gusts, hail, frequent lightning strikes and isolated tornadoes.

One severe thunderstorm within this line earlier on Saturday produced a 60-mph wind gust at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Texas. Air operations at the airport reported that two 737's sustained damage at their terminal gates after being shifted by the winds.


The lower Mississippi Valley will also face an elevated risk of flash flooding, not just from the downpours associated with this line but also from additional thunderstorms that will follow later Saturday night.

Locally, 5 inches of rain will pour down into Saturday night. Of that rainfall, a couple of inches could fall in as many hours on some communities.

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Motorists should never drive through a flooded road as the roadway underneath may be washed away or the current is stronger than the surface water appears.

An elderly woman and her four grandchildren were killed early Saturday morning after a creek overflowed its banks in Palestine, Texas, following torrential rainfall, according to the Associated Press. Between six to 10 homes in the family's cul-de-sac were severely damaged by the flood waters.

Intense thunderstorms will not just be confined to the Deep South. A few potent thunderstorms with hail, strong winds and downpours will erupt from southern Missouri and northern Arkansas to southern Illinois into the early evening of Saturday. This includes in St. Louis.

A locally severe thunderstorm may spread eastward into Tennessee and Kentucky Saturday evening; however, the main danger will be downpours reducing visibility for motorists.

Residents are reminded to seek shelter as soon as thunder is heard even in the absence of severe thunderstorm warnings. The danger of being struck by lightning is then present.

There have been five lightning fatalities in the United States so far this year, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Lightning Safety Specialist John Jensenius.


"The five fatalities this year are the most this year in the season since 2001 (when there were seven fatalities by April 27)," Jensenius said.

By Sunday, the threat of locally flooding downpours and severe thunderstorms will extend as far north as the Ohio Valley and as far south as the central Gulf Coast.

Content contributed by AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

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