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Severe storms to help trim excessive heat in Virginia, Carolinas into Friday night

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
May 31, 2019, 11:21:47 PM EDT

A shift in the weather pattern will allow the heat wave to break and big thunderstorms to rumble across parts of the southeastern United States to end this week.

The most concentrated area of thunderstorm activity into Friday night will extend from central and southern Virginia through much of North Carolina. However, spotty severe storms can occur farther to the south and west in parts of Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina as well.

Friday Severe 3 pm

People spending time outdoors or on the roads should be on the lookout for rapidly changing weather conditions.

The storms may make the trip to the Atlantic coast as well, so boaters and bathers should exercise caution.

Damaging wind gusts and frequent lightning strikes are expected to be the primary threats from the storms. At the local level, some of the storms may bring street and highway flooding.

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A small number of the storms may also produce hail, and an isolated tornado cannot be ruled out.

Speed, North Carolina, was one of the communities that was hit hard by hail around the size of tennis balls on Friday afternoon.

speed nc hail

Large hail that fell in Speed, North Carolina, on Friday. (Photo/@treyeverette)

The storms will tend to diminish later Friday night.

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The storms will help to break the heat in parts of the Southeast states.

The heat wave, which began just prior to the Memorial Day weekend, has produced highs ranging from the middle 90s to the low 100s F with some daily and all-time May records falling. The pattern has delivered temperatures of 10-15 degrees above average.

All-time record heat May 2019

Highs in the 80s will replace the extreme heat in cities such as Atlanta, Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina, and Richmond, Virginia. High temperatures will be slashed by an average of 10 degrees farther south in South Carolina and Georgia.

The extended period of hot, rain-free weather has created an area of abnormally dry conditions to moderate drought in the region.

SE Heat Relief

In terms of heat and dry spell relief, the sporadic rainfall may be welcomed by some people, such as business owners and agricultural interests.

In parts of the Southeast there has not been more than 0.01 of an inch of rain in about 20 days or more.

Much of Florida will have to wait a while longer for relief from heat and dry ground. However, a few spotty storms may erupt over parts of the peninsula over the weekend.

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