A strengthening storm will tap Gulf of Mexico moisture and jet stream energy as it travels northeastward over the central and eastern United States through Tuesday. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
It has been many weeks since there was a significant outbreak of severe weather in the United States.
However, AccuWeather meteorologists believe there is a high risk of violent thunderstorms Monday and some will be capable of producing tornadoes over the lower part of the Mississippi Valley. Some of the severe weather and tornado-producing storms will linger well after dark, which will add to the danger.
The last significant severe weather outbreak in the United States was centered on the Great Plains on Oct. 3-4, when at least 175 storm reports were filed, including eight tornadoes. Severe thunderstorms have not occurred since Sept. 26 in Louisiana and way back on Sept. 7 in Mississippi -- both states are in the thick of Monday's severe weather setup.
A strengthening storm will tap Gulf of Mexico moisture and jet stream energy as it travels northeastward over the central and eastern United States through Tuesday.
As temperatures rise into Monday afternoon, thunderstorms will erupt, and a number will turn severe, spawning high winds, hail and torrential downpours in the zone from northeastern Texas to western and central Mississippi to southern Arkansas. Some of the strongest storms will begin to rotate, and it is within these rotating thunderstorms that tornadoes are likely to develop.
"There are likely to be multiple tornadoes on the ground this afternoon into tonight from northeastern Texas to the lower part of the Mississippi Valley," AccuWeather chief on-air meteorologist Bernie Rayno said.
AccuWeather has outlined a high-risk area from the northeastern corner of Texas through much of northern Louisiana and into central Mississippi. The most significant risk of tornadoes will occur within that corridor.
However, tornadoes will still be possible to the north of this zone to central Arkansas and southwestern Tennessee and to the Gulf Coast in eastern Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
The first severe storms will erupt to the east of Dallas on Monday afternoon. Residents in Shreveport, La., Little Rock, Ark., Jackson, Miss., and even the northeastern side of the Houston metropolitan area will need to be on heightened alert during the daylight hours Monday before the cluster of thunderstorms races eastward.
"The threat of tornadoes will continue well after sunset on Monday, and the risk of storms packing high winds and torrential downpours will likely persist through the nighttime hours as they progress to the east over the Gulf Coast states," Rayno added.
Nocturnal tornadoes are especially dangerous, as they usually cannot be seen as well as during the day, and in some cases, they may strike when people are sleeping or not aware of severe weather watches and warnings. AccuWeather forecasters urge people who live in the threat zone to have a means of receiving these critical warnings even throughout the night.
Memphis, Jackson, Miss., and Baton Rouge, La., are among the Southern cities at risk for violent thunderstorms and a tornado after dark on Monday.
Storms will be less likely to be capable of producing a tornado but can still be disruptive and damaging with the likelihood of flash flooding and power outages late Monday night in New Orleans, Biloxi, Miss., and perhaps Birmingham, Ala.
As the storm system responsible for the tornado threat lifts farther to the north on Tuesday, conditions in the atmosphere will shift away from rotating thunderstorms and a high risk of tornadoes to more of a strong wind gust and torrential downpour event on Tuesday. Those hazards will unfold farther to the east in the Southern states.
The storms on Tuesday will occur along and ahead of an advancing cold front and will likely occur from the Florida Panhandle northeastward to upstate and central South Carolina.
The risk area includes much of the southeastern half of Alabama and most of Georgia, including the Atlanta area. The highest risk for storms with disruptive downpours, dangerous lightning strikes and potentially damaging wind gusts around the Atlanta metro area will be during the morning and midday hours.
By Tuesday night, the widespread risk of severe weather will ease, but some of the thunderstorms that extend from northeastern Florida and coastal areas from southeastern Georgia and the Carolinas to southeastern Virginia may still be robust.
People traveling along the Interstate 95 corridor and in cities such as Charleston, S.C., Wilmington, N.C., and Norfolk, Va., may deal with localized flash flooding and strong wind gusts during the evening. Winds can trigger sporadic power outages for a time in that zone.
Much of the South Central and Southeastern states have been in major drought or building drought conditions in recent months. The same pattern that has been acting as a deterrent against drenching rainfall has also been keeping a lid on thunderstorm activity.
In the autumn, there is often an uptick in severe weather following a downturn during the late summer. Instead of strengthening storm systems this autumn, which are the primary cause of severe weather this time of the year, storms have been weak, moisture-starved or avoided the region.