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Warmup to Spur Thunderstorms, Flooding in South Central US

By By Alex Sosnowski, senior meteorologist.
February 23, 2015, 1:55:58 AM EST

A storm forecast to track northeastward across the Ohio Valley will bring the potential for flooding rain and locally gusty drenching thunderstorms in part of the South Central states into Saturday night.

While areas from the central Plains and Rockies to part of the Upper Midwest and Northeast contend with wintry conditions, the storm will bring a taste of early spring weather farther south.

The weather setup is not the most dynamic. However, enough warm, moist air may surge in to destabilize the atmosphere from northeastern Texas to the western parts of Tennessee during Saturday evening.

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According Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity, "Thunderstorms with small hail and strong wind gusts are possible, in portions of Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi."

In order for an outbreak of severe weather, the sun would need to bust through and significantly warm the area up.

"Winds aloft (wind shear) will be strong enough to support severe thunderstorms," Margusity said.

While temperatures will climb into the 50s and 60s F in the area, an extra boost from the sun does not appear likely.

Instead the storms are likely to develop into a line of drenching rain and gusty winds with a few of the storms containing hail.

Another potential problem from the storm this weekend has to do with the snow on the ground and 1-2 inches of rain projected to fall onto that snow in part of the Tennessee and Ohio valleys to the southern and central Appalachians.


"Enough rain could fall with surging temperatures in portions of Kentucky, West Virginia and part of Virginia to raise the risk of flooding," Margusity said.


The greatest risk will be for small streams and tributaries to the major rivers in the region.

Many of these areas have several inches to up to foot of snow on the ground. Heavy rainfall in this area could release the moisture locked up in that snow, which could be too much for area streams and small rivers to handle.

In portions of Tennessee, enough rain will fall in the absence of significant snow cover to cause flash and urban flooding.

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