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Severe storms to roar to life across South, mid-Atlantic

By
Mary Gilbert, Accuweather.com
A car drives by crashing waves as Hurricane Sally approaches in Alabama Port on September 2020. A strengthening storm is set to unleash major impacts across much of the eastern half of the country, including Alabama, for the end of the weekend and through the early week. Photo by Dan Anderson/EPA-EFEA
A car drives by crashing waves as Hurricane Sally approaches in Alabama Port on September 2020. A strengthening storm is set to unleash major impacts across much of the eastern half of the country, including Alabama, for the end of the weekend and through the early week. Photo by Dan Anderson/EPA-EFEA

A strengthening storm is set to unleash major impacts across much of the eastern half of the country for the end of the weekend and through the early week.

Later in its life cycle, this storm system will bring drenching rain to the Northeast and dump snow over the Midwest. Before that happens, it will first trigger a multi-day risk for severe weather across the South and up through the mid-Atlantic coast.

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An area of low pressure that first developed over South Texas late last week will strengthen and pick up forward speed on Sunday. The center of this system will track from the Gulf coast of Texas Sunday morning to central Alabama Sunday night.

As this system tracks generally northeastward on Sunday, it will tap into plenty of atmospheric fuel to deliver drenching rain and even the opportunity for severe thunderstorms to the South.

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"An unseasonably moist air mass will be pulled northward on Sunday and overspread much of Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas by Sunday night," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said. "This air mass, combined with a potent storm and cold front sweeping through the area will produce the potential for strong-to-severe thunderstorms with damaging wind gusts."

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Severe thunderstorms can initiate by Sunday afternoon from eastern Louisiana to southern Mississippi. These storms will march east throughout Sunday night and eventually end up stretched from the Florida Panhandle to central North Carolina by dawn Monday morning.

Many cities including New Orleans; Mobile, Ala.; Tallahassee, Fla.; and Augusta, Ga. may be in the direct path of these feisty storms.

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"Thunderstorms during the night are sometimes the most dangerous as people are sleeping and may not receive severe weather warnings," AccuWeather Meteorologist Ryan Adamson cautioned. "Before going to sleep on Sunday night, anyone in living in the Florida Panhandle, Georgia, South Carolina or central North Carolina will want to be sure they have a way to get warnings in the middle of the night."

Outside of the threat for severe weather, areas farther north and east will encounter drenching rain. Much of the Southeast, Gulf Coast and even portions of the Ohio Valley are in store for a soggy Sunday.

The threat for severe thunderstorms will shift almost completely to the East Coast on Monday as the storm system intensifies and its center tracks north along the spine of the Appalachians.

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"By Monday, this unseasonably moist air mass will stretch northward along the Interstate-95 corridor into southern New England," Pydynowski said.

Strong-to-severe storms that survive through the overnight hours on Sunday will likely impact portions of Florida, coastal areas of Georgia and eastern South Carolina on Monday morning. Farther north, the threat will shift into the mid-Atlantic and southern New England from late Monday morning into Monday evening.

"Strong-to-severe thunderstorms may track through cities like Philadelphia, New York City and even Boston," Pydynowski added.

Other cities that may end up in the direct path of these damaging storms include Norfolk, Va.; Washington, D.C. Dover, Del.; Ocean City, N.J., and Allentown, Pa.

Very strong winds located higher in the atmosphere, just above the surface will be howling across much of the northeastern quarter of the United States through Monday. Any stronger storm that develops on Sunday or Monday will not have to work too hard to be able to tap into strong winds aloft and bring them crashing down to the surface.

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On Sunday and Monday, the most prevalent threat with any strong thunderstorms that rumble to life will be damaging wind gusts with an AccuWeather Local StormMax&trade of 80 mph. Winds of this magnitude will be strong enough to damage trees and even take down some power lines, leading to sporadic power outages. Heavy downpours can also occur in strong storms and may lead to localized flash flooding issues.

However, for some across the eastern U.S. on Sunday and Monday, an additional threat may be tacked on to the list -- isolated tornadoes.

"Isolated tornadoes cannot be ruled out across parts of the Southeast and mid-Atlantic given the setup," Pydynowski cautioned.

Tornadoes have impacted portions of the mid-Atlantic in November in recent history. On Nov. 2, 2018, at least three tornadoes were confirmed to have inflicted damage on portions of Virginia and Maryland. One of these tornadoes was responsible for two deaths and an additional injury in Baltimore, Md.

"Despite the fact that Monday is the last day of November, residents across the East will need to keep an eye to the sky for rapidly changing conditions."

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