South-central US can experience severe tornadoes

 Wednesday, February 8, 2023 


The risk of severe weather will ramp up across the south-central United States into Wednesday afternoon and evening as a potent storm system pivots from the Rockies to the Mississippi Valley. The meteorologists warn that the full spectrum of severe weather is likely with this storm system, including the potential for tornadoes in areas that have already been hit hard multiple times this winter.

The forecasters say after locally severe thunderstorms bring the risk of a few brief tornadoes to portions of central and eastern Texas into Tuesday night; the severe weather threat will kick into gear farther to the east Wednesday.

The main threat of severe weather will focus on the interstate 10, 20, 40 and 55 corridors that include Louisiana, Mississippi and southeastern Arkansas.

A moderate risk of severe weather and tornadoes includes the cities of New Orleans, Monroe and Alexandria, Louisiana, as well as Jackson and Vicksburg, Mississippi. Other major cities likely to experience severe weather include Shreveport, Louisiana; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Memphis, Tennessee.

More than 26 million will be at risk for some type of severe weather Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center. The motorists, residents and visitors in the region may need to take action to find shelter during the storms, which are likely to be at peak strength from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday. The greatest risk of tornadoes will be during the late afternoon and early evening hours.

Rayno said that the greatest potential for a strong tornado that may last more than a few minutes will be from discrete cells ahead of the main line of thunderstorms. These storms often have the strongest rotation and can tap into an unaltered plume of warm, moist air.

As the severe thunderstorms organize into more of a solid line late Wednesday night, the risk of tornadoes will decrease, but incidents of damaging wind gusts may increase. However, there can still be a brief, isolated tornado that spins up in the advancing line of storms with torrential downpours and strong wind gusts across Mississippi and western Tennessee.

In some cases, tornadoes may be concealed by heavy rain, low-hanging clouds or hilly, wooded terrain. The ability to seek shelter quickly will be especially important due to the risk of nocturnal tornadoes Wednesday.

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