Severe storms threaten the South with tornadoes and hurricane-force winds Friday night

The area under the threat of severe weather spans from southeastern Texas through the Florida Panhandle at the Gulf Coast to lower Michigan. The greatest threat will be in parts of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama which the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC) labeled a level 4 out of 5, or “moderate risk.” This includes Jackson, Mississippi and Monroe, Louisiana.

“Significant severe storms, including widespread damaging winds, and at least a few tornadoes are expected across portions of northeast Louisiana into Mississippi, especially overnight,” said the SPC.

The SPC is also warning that some areas, especially those in the region labeled “moderate risk,” could experience hurricane-force winds, which are winds of at least 74 mph.

The overnight hours will be of most concern for these dangerous storms, but the threat will begin earlier in the day.

During the day Friday, there will be rounds of showers and thunderstorms across the Southeast, with some of these possibly turning severe. Severe thunderstorm warnings have already been issued for a few of the storms Friday morning. The main threats posed by these storms are hail and wind.

By the early-afternoon, there will be an uptick in storm activity in the main area we are watching for severe weather. This is across eastern Oklahoma, northeastern Texas, northern Louisiana and much of Arkansas.

The SPC anticipates multiple lines of storms to form in this region, so even though there could be storms as early as Friday afternoon, the severe risk will continue well into Friday night.

By Friday evening, scattered storms are forecast to also form further east into Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, and unfortunately the worst of the storms could happen after sunset.

“While tornadoes are possible, it appears the straight line winds will be the primary concern,” said the National Weather Service office in Jackson, Mississippi. “Having said that, there could be swaths of wind damage that resemble EF-0 to EF-1 type (tornado) damage, so folks should certainly take the wind threat seriously.”

The rest of the South could also deal with several rounds of strong storms. The weather won’t clear up until early Saturday morning west of the Mississippi River while locations east of there will likely still be stormy.

Threat shifts east Saturday

The storm system triggering this anticipated severe weather outbreak will continue to trek east, forcing the thunderstorms to move east as well.

The severe weather threat will shift more toward the Southeast on Saturday. With many severe weather setups, the strong storms occur typically late in the day, but we could see persistent, threatening storms Friday night continuing into Saturday.

On Saturday, the area most at risk for severe weather will be from the Gulf Coast through northern portions of Alabama and Georgia. This includes cities such as Atlanta, New Orleans, Birmingham and Mobile.

Tornadoes do remain possible, especially near the Gulf Coast. The storms by this point in time will likely have evolved more into a line of storms instead of the multiple lines and supercell thunderstorms, which are the discrete spinning storms, expected Friday into Friday night.

By Saturday night, the severe threat will begin to diminish. As the storms near the East Coast in Georgia and the Carolinas, they may dissipate while showers move into central Florida.

Rounds of storms could trigger flash flooding

This storm system will draw in a good deal of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, allowing for heavy rain to fall from the thunderstorms Friday into Saturday.

In some areas, especially centered around Mississippi, multiple occurrences of these heavy storms are anticipated, creating the risk for several hours of potential rainfall rates in excess of 2 inches per hour.

Rainfall amounts will be variable, as it depends on the track of the thunderstorms, but generally, 1 to 2 inches of rainfall is forecast for much of the South. The likeliest areas to see totals between two and five inches will be across Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.

There will be a period of drier weather for this region by Sunday, but the next chance for rain will likely arrive on Tuesday.

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