- Severe weather will return to the south in the coming days.
- Tornadoes, destructive winds, and large hail are potential threats.
- This past December demonstrated how dangerous tornadoes can be in the winter months.
Severe thunderstorms in the South next week could spawn tornadoes in addition to destructive wind gusts, large hail, and flash flooding.
The instigator of severe weather
The winter storm Diaz will move towards the center of the country on Tuesday, where its energy will accumulate increasing moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.
That warm, moist air in combination with the storm’s strong upper-level winds will create a volatile environment that will fuel the formation of numerous thunderstorms that could produce severe weather.
This same weather pattern will also lead to a winter storm in other parts of the country. For more details about it, click here.
what to expect
Tornadoes, damaging straight-line winds, and large hail are all in play as potential threats. Since we’re still a few days away, the magnitude of each of those threats is still a bit uncertain.
Below is an overview showing where there is the highest confidence of severe weather on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center.
-Tuesday to Tuesday nights: East Texas and Southeast Oklahoma to Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi
-Wednesday to Wednesday nights: Southeastern Louisiana into southern Mississippi, southern Alabama, and the western Florida Panhandle
Please note that the location of these threat areas could change in the coming days once the exact timing becomes more secure.
Heavy rains could also increase the risk of flash flooding across much of the South Tuesday through Thursday.
Recent December history shows it may be prone to outbreaks
While tornadoes may not be on your mind this time of year, severe weather can occur well into the winter months.
Winter outbreaks often occur when excessive heat and humidity from the Gulf of Mexico invade the south, while the strengthened cold-season jet stream blows ahead of winter storms. These outbreaks of severe weather are most common from Texas to Florida, but gusts of heat can create the risk of unpleasant weather in parts of the Midwest.
(MORE: Tornadoes aren’t just a springtime concern)
Last December was an extreme example, as a pair of outbreaks helped smash the record for tornadoes for the month. A total of 232 tornadoes were confirmed, more than double the previous record of 99 tornadoes set in December 2002.
The worst outbreak produced 66 tornadoes on December 10 and 11, including a pair of long-track EF4 tornadoes from northeast Arkansas and Missouri’s Bootheel to northwestern Tennessee and Kentucky. More than 80 people died and hundreds were injured in parts of five states.
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