A potentially dangerous tornado outbreak threatens a region covering around 25 million people across the Deep South on Friday, with strong thunderstorms that could spawn intense tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail.
Meanwhile, the potential for flash flooding extends into the Ohio Valley.
The threat is particularly high in the lower Mississippi Valley – where supercells will be capable of producing EF-2 or stronger tornadoes, damaging wind gusts and large hail.
“Favorable wind shear is all going to come together across the Southeast … where we again continue to track this threat of severe weather throughout the day on Friday,” said FOX Weather meteorologist Jane Minar.
Of greatest concern for threatening weather is an area centered around Greenville, Mississippi, stretching as far north as Memphis, Tennessee and as far south as Monroe, Louisiana, and west to Pine Bluff, Arkansas where NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center has painted a “significant” risk of severe weather and strong tornadoes, reaching level 4 on their 5-rung severe weather outlook scale.
“If you are in that magenta-shaded area, you really need to be on alert,” said FOX Weather Meteorologist Jason Frazer.
Brief break before storms reintensify Friday afternoon
The line of storms will take a bit of a break later Friday morning as they move into east Texas, but then showers and thunderstorms will reintensify as they move east into an atmosphere primed for even stronger severe weather, peaking Friday afternoon into Friday night.
“It’s very likely we just had this blast of a start, (and) we’re going to get a bit of a break,” said FOX Weather Meteorologist Britta Merwin. “But once the sun comes, up that break is going to erode very quickly because the sun leads to energy, which leads to instability, which brings in the chance of more storms… (and) we’re going to have potential to see even stronger storms than we saw in the overnight hours as this cold front progresses off to the east.”
In addition, a squall line could later develop and track eastward across other portions of the South, posing threats of destructive straight-line wind gusts over 75 mph and at least isolated tornadoes as far east as Alabama and northwestern Georgia and as far north as Middle Tennessee and central Kentucky into the evening and overnight hours.
“The upper-level support is stronger for (Friday), which is why we have a larger potential of severe weather as this cold front continues to move through Arkansas and Louisiana on Friday,” Merwin said.
Strong storms bring rocky morning commute to Dallas-Forth Worth area
Already the cold front brought a line of severe thunderstorms into the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex Friday morning.
Large hail and strong wind triggered an hours-long ground stop at both Dallas-Forth Worth International and Dallas-Love airports early Friday morning. Some flights were diverted to other area airports after circling several times in a holding pattern.
The ground stops have since been lifted, but departure delays lingered into mid-morning. Trained weather spotters reported a gust of 71 mph at their weather stations in Decatur and Whitesboro.
Gusts to 60 mph west of town near Poolville lead to a trailer home overturned with two people trapped inside, according to the National Weather Service, while fire officials report another trailer home overturned near Whitt with three people trapped inside. There is no word yet if there are any significant injuries.
Ferocious winds knocked over power lines along Highway 199 near the Parker and Wise County border and spotters nearby reported seeing an RV turned over from the storms.
Isolated severe storms could linger in Southeast on Saturday
Isolated strong to severe thunderstorms could linger in parts of the Southeast on Saturday, but the threat will be much lower than Friday.
Damaging wind gusts and large hail are the main concerns from the Florida Panhandle northeastward into southeastern Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. However, an isolated tornado cannot be ruled out.
Flash flooding also a threat in mid-Mississippi and Ohio valleys
Even in areas that don’t see severe weather, heavy rain will be capable of producing flash flooding across the mid-Mississippi and Ohio valleys through Friday night.
A large swath of those regions could receive 2 to 3 inches of rain in a short amount of time, with localized rainfall amounts of 3 to 5 inches possible in a stripe from southern Missouri into southern Illinois, southern Indiana, extreme northern Kentucky and far southwestern Ohio.
The threat of flash flooding has prompted the National Weather Service to issue Flood Watches from central and eastern Oklahoma into the mid-Mississippi and Ohio valleys.
In addition to flash flooding, minor to moderate river flooding is predicted along much of the Ohio River, according to the NWS Ohio River Forecast Center.
Severe storms dropped hail in southern Plains on Thursday
The Storm Prediction Center issued a series of Severe Thunderstorm Watches that stretched from North Texas through Missouri late Thursday.
Large hail was predominately the main threat, and the SPC received over 30 reports of hail.
Ping pong ball-sized stones were reported in communities in Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri.
Damage was limited to trees and at least one outbuilding. There were no injuries were initially reported.
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