The first official week of spring has come and gone, with Mother Nature dishing out everything from flooding in California, snow in the Midwest and severe storms across the South. Now, AccuWeather meteorologists say a pair of storms could keep these risks in the mix for the new week, including the threat for severe thunderstorms.
Friday, March 25, proved to be an active severe weather day across the southeastern, U.S. with dozens of damaging wind and tornado reports across half a dozen states. Tornadoes ripped through Mississippi, leaving miles of damage in their wake. The town of Rolling Fork was hit particularly hard, where emergency responders told AccuWeather “pretty much most of the town is unrecognizable” on Saturday morning.
The Southeast is an area that is no stranger to severe weather during the spring. In fact, research suggests that in recent history, the frequency of tornadoes has increased in parts of Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama. Experts have weighed in on whether or not the infamous “Tornado Alley” is shifting eastward.
In congruence with this trend, the same states hit with severe thunderstorms and tornadoes on Friday and Friday night may be in line for another round of severe weather into Sunday night, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Bill Deger.
Locations from Lake Charles, Louisiana to Columbia, South Carolina could be at risk, including other major cities like Jackson, Mississippi, and Montgomery, Alabama. Much of this area is just too far south of the most damaging storms from Friday, but could hit some of the same areas that had more robust thunderstorms on Saturday.
“While the thunderstorms Saturday moved from west to east across the area, the ones on Sunday are expected to venture from south to north, largely due to a flow from the Gulf of Mexico,” Deger explained.
Damaging winds of 60-70 mph are possible with these thunderstorms, as well as the threat for hail and a few tornadoes into Sunday night. Motorists in the area should be prepared for travel delays, and residents should have a reliable way to get severe thunderstorm watches and warnings.
Sunday is expected to just be the start of a wet pattern across much of the Southeast, that could last in the area for several days.
The heavier showers and thunderstorms will be more expansive than the weekend severe weather risk, and will stretch along a stalled front through Tuesday. Communities from Houston, Texas, to Wilmington, North Carolina, should be on alert for rounds of heavy rain.
“After several days of repeated downpours, this area could see a heightened risk for flash flooding, especially in low-lying or poor drainage areas,” said Deger.
Widespread rainfall amounts of 1-2 inches are expected in this zone, but a smaller corridor, likely from central Mississippi to eastern Georgia could have as much as 3 or 4 inches of rain by Tuesday afternoon.
Most of this area has missed out on the recent heavy rains, and thus is running behind on rainfall. Since March 1, Jackson, Mississippi, has only seen 2.67 inches of rain, 49% of normal for the month. Charleston, South Carolina, has only reported 1.30 inches of rain, 39% of the historical average for March. Other cities like Birmingham, Alabama, and Atlanta have also had a drier month, with less than 75% of the usual March rain total thus far.
A brief break in the stormy pattern for the eastern half of the country is expected during the middle of the week. However, another storm is expected to strike by Thursday.
“The same storm that expected to bring yet another round of heavy rain, snow and strong winds to California early in the week may also be responsible for the next severe weather threat in the Plains,” warned Deger.
As the storm strengthens in Colorado, the cool air coming out of the Rockies, combined with warm, moist conditions from the Gulf of Mexico are expected to make for a rather potent, multi-faceted storm with the risk for snow, flooding and severe thunderstorms in the Plains.
The track and strength of the storm will ultimately determine which areas see snow and which see severe weather. A track into Kansas is most likely to put areas in Texas, Oklahoma and southeastern Kansas most at risk for a few storms that turn severe. All modes of severe weather, including flooding downpours, hail, damaging winds and even tornadoes, are all possible.
AccuWeather long-range meteorologists warned in February that the uptick in severe weather across the Plains and Gulf Coast could persist even into April in the U.S. spring forecast.
Produced in association with AccuWeather