Severe Weather, Tornado Threat To Build In Southern US This Week
Two storms are poised to bring severe weather over portions of the south-central United States this week, but it is the second storm that may bring a heightened risk of violent conditions, including a significant tornado threat, AccuWeather meteorologists warn.
Factoring in the multiple rounds and areal coverage of upcoming severe weather this week, more than 40 million people may be at risk. Some of the same locations that have been hit repeatedly by severe weather, including the threat of tornadoes, so far this winter may get hit again this week.
“The first and weaker of the storm duo will pivot quickly from southern Colorado to northern Michigan spanning Monday and Tuesday,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Courtney Travis said.
A stripe of accumulating snow will extend north and west of the storm track with slippery travel early this week. However, a broad area of showers and thunderstorms will occur south and east of the storm track and some of the storms will become severe from north-central Texas to eastern Oklahoma on Monday night. Major cities that could be affected by severe weather for a time on Monday night include Dallas and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
On Tuesday, the severe weather threat will shift eastward along an advancing line or two of thunderstorms from northeastern Texas to southern Missouri with the likelihood of locally severe storms reaching portions of northeastern Louisiana, western Mississippi and southwestern Tennessee Tuesday evening. Major cities in the path of the storms on Tuesday include Shreveport, Louisiana; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Jackson, Mississippi.
The main threats from the storms from Monday night to Tuesday evening will be strong wind gusts that can knock down trees and torrential downpours that can lead to flash flooding, forecasters say.
“A much stronger storm system will pivot from northwestern Texas on Wednesday to northern Michigan on Thursday night,” Travis said. Since the first storm will have already left behind some warm and moist Gulf of Mexico air over the South Central states, the new storm is likely to take advantage and may lead to an explosion of severe weather on Wednesday and Thursday as strong jet stream energy sweeps over the region.
“Given the scope of unseasonable warmth in areas in advance of this storm, it will act more like an April storm rather than a February storm,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Adam Douty said. “The severe weather threat can extend much farther to the north than typically occurs during the middle of February, potentially affecting northern portions of Indiana and Ohio, as well as western Pennsylvania.”
The full spectrum of severe weather is likely from Wednesday to Thursday, ranging from storms with high winds and hail to flash flooding and tornadoes, Travis said. Some of the tornadoes that are spawned from Wednesday afternoon to Thursday evening could be strong and on the ground for more than a couple of minutes. The threat includes the potential for tornadoes at night.
Severe thunderstorms will ramp up at midday on Wednesday from northeastern Texas to southern Missouri and expand eastward to western portions of Mississippi and Tennessee into the evening hours. Once again cities that could be at a heightened risk of severe weather on Wednesday include Longview, Texas, Shreveport and Little Rock.
On Thursday, the risk of violent thunderstorms and tornadoes will shift eastward with a heightened risk in the states of Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee — a zone where there have been dozens of tornadoes so far this winter. The severe weather threat on Thursday either from tornadoes or strong wind gusts will extend along a 900-mile-long swath from near the central Gulf coast to around the lower Great Lakes region.
As the rounds of severe weather erupt and shift eastward, there are likely to be episodes of flight delays and cancellations. Ground stops may be implemented at the major hubs of Dallas, Atlanta, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Memphis, Tennessee. Motorists should be prepared for rapidly changing and dangerous weather conditions along portions of interstate highways 20, 30, 40, 49, 55 and 65.
Just as the second storm is likely to produce a prolific and widespread amount of severe weather from Wednesday to Thursday, it is also likely to produce a swath of heavy snow and major travel disruptions on its cold side from Colorado to northern Michigan, where local snowfall of 12-18 inches is possible.
Since the second storm is likely to race into Canada by Friday, along with much of the jet stream energy, any severe weather from the Appalachians to the Atlantic coast is likely to be spotty and brief. A sweep of chilly air will end the threat of severe weather over the Central states by the end of the week.
Produced in association with AccuWeather.