One round of strong to severe storms with damaging winds and isolated tornadoes rolled across southern MS, AL GA and north FL this morning into the early afternoon. Those are no longer a threat, and now all eyes turn toward the west across east and northeast TX, southeast OK, southern AR and LA where the next, more significant round, of severe thunderstorms is getting going. These will sweep eastward through the overnight hours across the areas just mentioned and into southwest TN and MS, producing a dangerous scenario where very dangerous thunderstorms, some producing tornadoes, move across the region in darkness. This makes an already dangerous event, even that much more dangerous.
This is one of those situations where conditions for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes will actually improve through the overnight hours as wind field increase, and upper level jet energy and dynamics overspread a moist and unstable airmass. Tornado watches will be issued in progressive order from west to east throughout the night with watches likely as far eastward as western and southwestern Alabama by sunrise Saturday. Those of you in the danger zone overnight should have an operational weather radio, and take very serious all watches and warnings issued for your area. It cannot be stressed enough how dangerous this situation is.
By sunrise Saturday there should be an area of severe thunderstorms moving into west-central and southwest AL. These will produce damaging winds, large hail and tornadoes. In the 8am to noon time frame, dangerous storms will impact the southern 2/3rds of AL, west-central and southwest GA and into the FL panhandle. Severe storms will also extend northward across middle TN and even into KY. Intense and deep convection could develop along the Gulf coast, and if this happens the moisture influx into storms farther north will be disrupted, and there will be a general lessening of the intensity of the event. However, this widespread and deep coastal convection is certainly not a given so that will have to be monitored closely. Also, there is some question as to how far north the warm front will get. If it stays south of Atlanta, then these major Southeast population center will be spared the worst of the severe weather. Even though there are some encouraging factors that could lessen the overall severity of this event, it remains a very dangerous one through the day Saturday that everyone needs to pay special attention to and listen for the latest watches and warnings issued for your area. If the severe weather ingredients available for this system were to come together just right, then it has the potential to be a major severe weather and tornado outbreak on Saturday, so DO NOT let your guard down. Through Saturday afternoon and evening, the severe threat sweeps across the remainder of GA, north FL, the Carolinas, and VA.
Meanwhile, back in the middle part of the country a raging late season blizzard is well underway and will continue through Saturday and into Sunday. Thundersnow, snowfall rates of 3 inches per hour, 50 mph winds, zero visibility, 10 to 20 inches of snow, and snow drifts 10 to 20 feet high will create and extremely dangerous condition for those hardest hit across the northern TX panhandle, the OK panhandle and northwest OK, and southwest and central KS. Here is a link to a web cam in the city I spent the first 32 years of my life in, Wichita, KS. http://www.360wichita.com/wichitacam/ They have been spared the worst of it so far as some warm air aloft has worked in and created a lot of sleet for Wichita, but coler air aloft will quickly rush in and very heavy snow will fall most of the night and into Saturday morning, piling up to 10 to 16 inches in depth. Tree limbs and power lines are going to come down in the strong winds and snow, and many folks in the region are going to lose power tonight, and it’ll be a few days before crews can get out and fix the problems. Just a terrible situation. My elderly parents live in Wichita, and I’m very worried about them.
My plan is to monitor the weather situation closely from the StormStream Severe Weather Operation Center through the night. Storm chase and live streaming operations could begin as early as 8am Saturday and continue through much of the day. I will be streaming at http://www.severestudios.com/livechase/ and http://www.ustream.tv/channel/stormstream-forecast-operations/