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Thunderstorms, Big Cooldown On Tap For The Southeast

Big weather swings are common at this time of year, with warm springlike weather frequently followed by a more wintry pattern.

Much of the country is no stranger to big swings in the weather this time of year with warm springlike weather often being followed by a more wintry pattern during the month of March. This will once again be the case in the Southeast, with high temperatures and thunderstorms for some to start this week, followed by a quick return to winter by midweek, according to AccuWeather forecasters.

Residents anticipating warm weather on Sunday have an area of low pressure over the Plains states to thank. Since winds flow counterclockwise around these areas, a steady wind from the south will bring warm air into the region, keeping wintry weather at bay. While the mid-Atlantic and Northeast deal with low temperatures and snow chances, it will be a very different story farther south.

“With a well-defined area of low pressure to the west, warm air and an abundance of moisture will stream into the Southeast, setting the stage for thunderstorms late in the day,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Andrew Kienzle said.

Near the Gulf Coast, generally south of the Interstate-20 corridor, enough energy will be present for some storms to turn severe, according to the latest forecasts. Thunderstorms are expected to fire up over Mississippi or eastern Louisiana, quickly moving eastward into the evening hours. Storms are likely to be near their strongest during this time as they impact locations such as Montgomery, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida. Later at night, after sweeping through much of southern Georgia, any thunderstorms may begin to decrease in intensity, though could still bring gusty winds and heavy rain along the Atlantic coast.

Although hail and strong wind gusts will be the main severe threats, there may be enough wind shear for a few tornadoes, particularly in the southern half of the threat region. ACCUWEATHER

While high wind gusts and hail will be the primary severe hazards, enough wind shear may be in place for a few tornadoes, especially in the southern half of the threat area.

By Monday and Tuesday, however, this storm system will bring about a rapid change in the weather pattern. As the zone of low pressure slides northward and develops into a powerful nor’easter, winds will quickly shift toward a northerly direction across much of the country. This will bring in enough cold air for a major snowstorm in the Northeast, but also send temperatures crashing farther south from Monday through Wednesday.

Many people in Atlanta, whose daily highs have been in the 60s and 70s this month, will find the changes particularly abrupt. ACCUWEATHER

In Atlanta, where high temperatures have been in the 60s and 70s every day so far this month, many will find the changes to be especially sudden. A low of 34 F is forecast for Monday night, with the mercury plunging to the freezing mark the night after. In some of the chillier northern suburbs such as Kennesaw and Lawrenceville, Georgia, lows in the 20s F cannot be ruled out Tuesday night.

Chilly weather may even make it into places one would least expect, such as Florida. In Tallahassee, where temperatures have been over 11 degrees Fahrenheit above average so far this month, temperatures are set to plunge into the upper 30s F Tuesday night. Similarly, cold air will be in place in Jacksonville, with a low of 39 F forecast. Average low temperatures for the city are around 50 degrees F this time of year.

Farther north, temperatures are set to be even lower. After dropping to around freezing Monday night, a low in the upper 20s F is forecast for Charlotte, with three straight nights below freezing in Richmond, Virginia. Downtown Washington, D.C., may struggle to reach the 20s F due to the urban heat island effect, though many of the city’s western and northern suburbs are likely to drop into the middle or upper 20s F Tuesday night.

While subfreezing temperatures are certainly not unheard of in March, it will be a stark contrast to recent warm weather for parts of the Southeast. Those in spots where subfreezing temperatures are forecast will want to bring pets, as well as any sensitive outdoor plants, indoors to avoid the cold air.

As is typically the case with any warm or cold weather in March, this pattern is not likely to last long. By late this week, a northward shift in the jet stream is likely to bring a quick warmup across the Southeast, a sure sign that spring is not far away.

Produced in association with AccuWeather

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