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Alex Sosnowski

Dangerous Severe Weather, Tornado Outbreak Set To Erupt In South

 The severe weather and tornado threat will extend well beyond sunset Friday, adding to the danger of the storms. ACCUWEATHER

AccuWeather meteorologists warn that a violent severe weather outbreak will unfold from portions of the south-central United States to the Midwest into Friday night. In addition to the dangers of strong tornadoes and severe weather extending into the night, widespread flooding can ensue as repeated downpours will target a large swath of the nation.

The same storm turned deadly, triggering damaging winds and flooding rain in California Tuesday into Wednesday and even a rare tornado in the Los Angeles metro area. The weather system is expected to regenerate over the Central states into Friday.

Following severe thunderstorms from late Thursday to Thursday night from portions of central Texas to southern Missouri, the round of storms that will erupt Friday is likely to be more widespread and more intense in terms of severity. As the storms ramp up, so will the risk of flooding just to the north and west of the severe weather zone.

AccuWeather meteorologists upgraded the threat for severe weather Friday to a high risk for tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds from northeastern Louisiana and southeastern Arkansas to western Mississippi.

“The concern of AccuWeather meteorologists on this volatile situation has increased over the recent days on multiple weather threats,” AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jon Porter said. “Our experience is that often, when a potent storm system results in unusual impacts and damage in California, as occurred earlier in the week, the associated disturbance traversing across the country can also produce noteworthy severe weather – this appears to be one of those situations.”

Thunderstorms that erupt anywhere from northeastern Texas to the panhandles of Mississippi and Alabama, northward to southeastern Missouri, the southern parts of Illinois and Indiana and northeastern Tennessee will be at risk for all modes of severe weather, including localized flash flooding.

A few of the tornadoes that develop could become strong and long-tracked, threatening multiple communities. In addition, hilly, wooded terrain in part of the region may conceal the approach of a tornado. The severe weather and tornado threat will extend well beyond sunset Friday, adding to the danger of the storms.

For these reasons, AccuWeather meteorologists urge people to monitor severe weather and tornado watches and warnings closely. Forecasters say it is crucial to have a means of receiving alerts when people go to sleep at night; having an action plan in place ahead of the thunderstorms could be life-saving.

“Please remind people you know who live in the affected areas about the severe weather risks – we all live busy lives and sometimes reaching out by phone, text, email or social media to let a friend or family member know about the risk of severe weather could help save their life,” Porter said. He added that downloading the free AccuWeather app and turning on push notifications can help people receive critical severe weather warnings.

AccuWeather meteorologists have warned since last weekend about the potential for serious risk flooding from the mid-Mississippi Valley to the Ohio Valley due to the setup for repeating downpours.

This zone at greatest risk for flash flooding extends from eastern Oklahoma and northern Louisiana to northern Ohio, western Pennsylvania, western Maryland and West Virginia into the end of the week.

As 1-4 inches of rain pour down on saturated soil, water will collect in poor drainage areas, and small streams will rise rapidly and may quickly flood low-lying roads.

Motorists should never attempt to drive through flooded roads since the water may be deeper than it appears and flowing fast enough to sweep the vehicle away. Depending on the size and weight of the vehicle, several inches to a couple of feet of water may be enough to cause it to lose traction and float away. In addition, road surfaces can be washed away beneath floodwaters, experts warn. If motorists encounter a flooded road, it is always recommended to take an alternative route.

Flooding incidents were already ramping up from Thursday night to Friday morning from parts of Oklahoma to portions of Indiana and Ohio.

From Thursday night to Friday night, pockets of 4-8 inches of rain will fall as downpours repeat for hours over the same geographical area. ACCUWEATHER

Pockets of 4-8 inches of rain will occur as downpours repeat for hours over the same geographical area from Thursday night to Friday night. Because of this, moderate flooding along some of the secondary rivers will occur from eastern Oklahoma, northern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri to portions of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio as well as in parts of southwestern Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia.

It may take up to a few days for that runoff to reach the secondary rivers, and it may not be until early next week until that water reaches the Ohio River and the central portion of the Mississippi River. In this case, flooding on some of the rivers will occur long after the rain has departed.

Water levels are likely to reach action stage along portions of the Ohio River, with minor flooding possible in some communities next week. Portions of the middle part of the Mississippi may reach action stage for a time before falling back by the end of the month.

Because heavy rain is not expected to fall over a broad scale south of the Ohio River and not reach northern portions of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, this event is unlikely to bring major flooding on the Ohio and Mississippi. However, the region will need to be monitored closely for additional rain this spring as runoff from melting snow near the headwaters of the Mississippi accelerates. Up to a few feet of snow remains on the ground over the northern tier of the Central states.

AccuWeather long-range meteorologists predicted spring flooding dangers for part of the zone at risk in a spring forecast released in early March.

While the risk of severe thunderstorms will be significantly lower Saturday when compared to Friday, there are two zones where AccuWeather meteorologists anticipate problems.

One zone will be around the Great Lakes and particularly from eastern Indiana to western Pennsylvania. In this area, showers and thunderstorms are most likely to pack strong wind gusts and could lead to tree damage and power outages. AccuWeather Local StormMax™ wind gusts may approach hurricane force (75 mph).

A second zone will be in the Southeastern states from parts of the Carolinas to southern Georgia and northern Florida. Severe weather in this area is likely to be widely separated, but there is some potential for strong wind gusts, hail and flash flooding.


Produced in association with AccuWeather

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