Multistate Severe Weather Outbreak To Continue Into Friday For Parts Of South, Ohio Valley
The risk of severe weather will continue for the third consecutive day on Friday as storms target areas from the Southeast to the Ohio Valley. The severe weather will be the byproduct of a larger storm system tracking across the country and could produce downpours, destructive wind gusts and isolated tornadoes across portions of 11 states, AccuWeather forecasters say.
The powerful storm responsible for this early-season severe weather outbreak arrived on the shores of the United States earlier this week and brought more drought-relieving rain and heavy snow to lower elevations in California. It will advance into the Midwest and Northeast on Friday and Saturday, bringing heavy, travel-snarling snow to cities such as Chicago and Boston.
Thunderstorms on Thursday will erupt from the afternoon into the nighttime hours from Texas through the Ark-La-Tex region and into the lower Mississippi Valley.
This will be the peak of the severe weather risk this week, with AccuWeather forecasters warning of a rare ‘high risk’ for severe thunderstorms across parts of northeastern Texas, southeastern Oklahoma, northern Louisiana and a large portion of Arkansas. This threat area includes the cities of Dallas, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Shreveport, Louisiana. Damaging hail, perhaps as large as golf or tennis balls, and a few powerful tornadoes will be possible.
Storm chasers, such as extreme meteorologist Reed Timmer, were gathering in the high-risk area early on Thursday, ahead of the expected formation of tornadoes late in the day.
A much wider part of the country, spanning more than a dozen states and extending from southern Texas to Kentucky, can also experience strong thunderstorms that also could produce damaging wind gusts that bring down trees and power lines, as well as flooding downpours that could imperil motorists.
Since the severe thunderstorm and tornado risk will persist well after dark, especially in Arkansas and Louisiana, the threat becomes especially dangerous as people go to sleep. It will be imperative that residents in this area have a way to receive weather warnings overnight, such as by setting up notifications on the AccuWeather app.
A third and final day of severe weather is expected to unfold from the Gulf Coast states to the Ohio Valley on Friday. While the risk of gusty thunderstorms will be somewhat diminished compared to Thursday, it will not be gone entirely.
The day will likely start with thunderstorms ongoing from the night before, moving east in lines extending from Alabama into the western halves of Tennessee and Kentucky. AccuWeather meteorologists say heavy rain and gusty winds in excess of 40 mph will be the main concerns for morning commuters in this part of the threat area. By lunchtime, the severe threat may already be winding along and to the west of the Interstate 65 corridor, including in the cities of Birmingham, Alabama; Nashville, Tennessee; and Louisville, Kentucky.
Farther east, the threat will reach its peak during the afternoon hours due to a surge of warmer and more humid air from the Gulf of Mexico. The gusty, southerly winds moving this air will reach all the way north into parts of Ohio and West Virginia. This will help fuel the development of new thunderstorms, which can quickly turn severe through the evening commute.
“A threat of tornadoes will be reinvigorated on Friday, especially toward the central and northern part of the risk area, closer to the storm system providing the energy for thunderstorm formation,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Tony Zartman. “Farther south, a narrow stripe of thunderstorms moving into Georgia and the Carolinas will likely be remembered for producing locally damaging wind gusts.”
Motorists planning to drive along portions of interstates 20, 40, 75 and 85 may have to alter their plans as thunderstorms form and move through into Friday evening. Atlanta; Charlotte; Charleston, West Virginia; and Columbus, Ohio; are among the major metropolitan areas at risk for these damaging storms.
In addition to the heavy rain caused by thunderstorms in parts of the South and Ohio Valley on Friday, flooding downpours will also occur from parts of the mid-Mississippi Valley to the southern Great Lakes and mid-Atlantic.
While strong winds and tornadoes from severe thunderstorms pose a significant risk to life and property, even run-of-the-mill thunderstorms can present their own hazards.
Additionally, lightning is another deadly hazard that can even strike far away from the actual storm. On early Thursday morning, lightning from a non-severe storm sparked a house fire in Clayton, North Carolina, according to local television station WTVD-TV.
The multiday severe weather outbreak will finally come to an end this weekend, as the storm system moves off the East Coast. A pattern change expected to follow toward the middle of the month will bring waves of colder air farther south across the country and likely result in a lull in the severity of thunderstorm activity for a time across much of the nation, according to AccuWeather’s team of long-range meteorologists.
Produced in association with AccuWeather