ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A strong cold front passing through multiple states across the Deep South including Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and southeast Arkansas will continue to produce several hours of significant severe weather through the overnight hours into Thursday. Several tornado warnings have already been issued throughout the course of the afternoon with multiple confirmed tornadoes reported on the ground, and there’s still more anticipated to come.
The storms from earlier this afternoon were all a part of the first wave of convection to fire ahead of the actual frontal boundary itself, while the second round of storms will soon occur along the passing cold front tonight and through the overnight Thursday.
The way the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) categorizes severe weather involves a scale that looks like this:
For this particular event, the SPC issued a HIGH risk of severe weather for portions of northeast Louisiana, and central Mississippi and Alabama, which is the highest on the scale. This means by definition that widespread, long-lived and intense severe storms are possible for the locations highlighted within the colored area, but not necessarily limiting any areas nearby from the risk. It’s important to recognize the risk does still exists outside the colored areas for the possibility of strong and violent storms, but the high risk simply means that the area in particular favors the highest chance and risk for the strongest severe weather. This includes the risk for strong winds, damaging hail, and tornadoes within any of the highlighted areas including areas within a marginal, slight, enhanced, or moderate risk as shown below.
Within these high risk centers are also more specific hatched areas that outline the probability at seeing each specific severe weather parameter; hail, wind and tornadoes. What the SPC did for this particular event is something you don’t see every day. They ended up issuing a 45% chance of a tornado to occur within 25 miles of any given point. That’s essentially saying there is a coin flip’s chance of seeing a tornado in that area, which are pretty frightening odds.
Several tornado watches are also in effect through tonight with conditions favoring the development for tornadoes across these states over the next several hours as the front continues to make its way through the area. Particularly Dangerous Situation (PDS) Watches have been issued for high confidence in particularly dangerous, strong, and long-track tornadoes, which only elevates how serious of a situation this currently is, and still can be through the course of the evening.
This will be a long night not only for the public, but for meteorologists covering the outbreak over the next several hours with the risk for severe weather continuing into Thursday. There is also currently up to a moderate risk for severe weather in place for portions of Georgia, most of South Carolina, and North Carolina along the southeast and Atlantic coastal U.S. areas from Thursday morning into Friday. This will be a part of the same system currently making its way through the Deep South through tonight.
There are many highly populated areas that will continue to be under this risk for severe weather over the next 36 hours. If you have any friends and/or family who live within any of these areas, you may want to give them an additional heads up just in case as this is a significant tornado outbreak with potentially fatal implications.
If a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning is issued for your city or town, make sure to take shelter inside and away from windows if possible, and stay up to date with the latest weather information on your phone, television, or NOAA weather radio.
For the latest updates on Wednesday through Thursday’s severe weather situation, click HERE.
~Meteorologist Christine Gregory