A Busy and Potentially Dangerous Severe Weather Day Across Dixie

A strong storm system will bring areas of severe thunderstorms to the Southeast U.S. today.

Severe storms with the potential of damaging winds and isolated tornadoes will affect the Gulf coastal and inland areas of south AL, south GA and north FL throughout the morning and into the afternoon. 

Other severe storms associated with low pressure and the cold front will sweep from eastern TX across LA, southern and eastern AR, western sections of middle TN and into western MS through the morning and into the afternoon.  These particular storms could produce hail to the size of baseballs, damaging winds and some tornadoes.  These storms will continue to move rapidly northeast at 50 to 60 mph across MS, middle TN and across AL and the FL panhandle late this afternoon and evening, continuing to pose a threat of damaging winds, hail to the size of golfballs and isolated tornadoes.  Storms will impact GA, north FL and into SC and eastern NC through the early morning hours on Friday.  These storms will mainly be strong to marginally severe, but central and south GA and into the Carolinas could experience more concentrated severe storms with damaging winds, hail to the size of marbles and isolated tornadoes.

The extensive convection occuring along the Gulf coastal region of AL and the FL panhandle will disrupt the low level wind field, and could reduce the amount of low level speed shear, a key ingredient to large tornadoes in the Southeast.  This could spare most of AL, GA and middle TN from any storng or violent tornadoes, with most intensity levels between EF0 and EF1.  Further west during the afternoon, the low level inflow should be stronger thus creating more intense low level spin in the atmosphere, the CAPE higher, and the upper dynamics stronger.  If we are to see any long-tracked tornadoes of EF2 intensity and higher today it would most likely be across MS, the western third of AL, and possibly western sections of middle TN if dewpoints can rise above 62F there.  The most likely time for this activity would be between 2pm and 9pm.

I am fairly confident that this event will produce severe weather that may reach the definition of an outbreak.  I’m more confident in an outbreak of severe thunderstorms than I am of a tornado outbreak.  The low level moosture is there, but I am not sure we are going to see the magnitude of 0-1km speed sheer necessary to get a lot of tornadoes going, and especially ones of strong or violent intensity.  There will likely be more storms displaying mid level rotation, than those that actually drop confirmed tornadoes, so we could see a situation where many radar-indicated tornado warnings are issued, but verification of actual tornadoes may be far less.  Still, having said that, the potential is certainly there for significant tornadoes, especially across MS, western AL and western sections of middle TN, with a threat for isolated and weaker tornadoes in many other areas.  So stay up to date on all forecasts, and pay attention to all watches and warnings that are issued today, and take them very seriously.

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