No rest for the weary: Tornado risk continues for Southeast

The first official week of spring has come and gone, with Mother Nature dishing out everything from flooding in California, snow in the Midwest and severe storms across the South. AccuWeather meteorologists say a pair of storms could keep these risks in the mix for the new week, including the threat of severe thunderstorms.

Friday, March 24 was an active severe weather day across the southeastern United States, with dozens of damaging wind and tornado reports across half a dozen states. Tornadoes ripped through Mississippi, leaving miles of damage in their wake. The town of Rolling Fork was hit particularly hard, where emergency responders told AccuWeather, "pretty much most of the town is unrecognizable" on Saturday morning.


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The same states hit with severe thunderstorms and tornadoes on Friday and Friday night are facing another round of severe weather into Sunday night, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Bill Deger.

Early Sunday morning, intense thunderstorms were already erupting across parts of the Southeast. Several severe thunderstorm warnings were issued in Mississippi and Alabama, with hail over the size of golf balls reported. Top hail reports in Alabama came in Camp Hill (2.75 inch diameter size) and Lafayette (2.5 inch diameter). Severe hail was also reported in Mississippi on Saturday evening, including golf ball sized hail in Bolton, Clinton, Conehatta and Fannin, Mississippi. In Bolton, damaging winds caused roof damage to a business, according to the National Weather Service. Jackson, Mississippi, was placed under multiple severe thunderstorm warnings and a flash flood warning on Sunday.

A tornado likely touched down in LaGrange, Georgia, around 7 a.m. EDT Sunday, injuring multiple people and leaving behind significant property damage.

Damaging winds of 60-70 mph are possible with these thunderstorms, as well as the threat of large hail and a few tornadoes into Sunday night. Motorists in the area should be prepared for travel delays, and residents should have a reliable way to get severe thunderstorm watches and warnings.

The stalled front responsible for several rounds of severe weather could bring one more day of severe thunderstorms on Monday as well. Areas from eastern South Carolina to southern Alabama are expected to see more thunderstorms with the potential for hail, damaging winds and even more tornadoes.

Damaging winds of 60-70 mph are possible with these thunderstorms, as well as the threat of large hail and even a tornado or two into Monday night. Motorists in the area should be prepared for travel delays, and residents should have a reliable way to get severe thunderstorm watches and warnings

A wet pattern is expected to continue across much of the Southeast even as the week progresses.

The heavier showers and thunderstorms will be more expansive than the weekend severe weather risk and will stretch along a stalled front through Tuesday. Communities from Houston to Wilmington, North Carolina, should be on alert for rounds of heavy rain.

"After several days of repeated downpours, this area could see a heightened risk for flash flooding, especially in low-lying or poor drainage areas," said Deger.

Widespread rainfall amounts of 1-2 inches are expected in this zone. Still, a smaller corridor from central Mississippi to eastern Georgia could have as much as 3 or 4 inches of rain by Tuesday afternoon.

Most of this area has missed out on the recent heavy rain and thus is running behind on rainfall. Since March 1, Jackson, Mississippi, has only received 2.67 inches of rain, 49% of the historical average for the month. Charleston, South Carolina, has received just 1.30 inches of rain, 39% of the historical average for March. Other cities like Birmingham, Alabama, and Atlanta have also had a drier month, with less than 75% of the usual March rain total thus far.

However, there are some locations, where rain has overlapped and that has small streams and rivers on the rise.

"Unprotected areas along the Oconnee and Flint rivers in Georgia will experience moderate flooding this week," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.

The Southeast is an area that is no stranger to severe weather during the spring. In fact, research suggests that in recent history, the frequency of tornadoes has increased in parts of Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama. Experts have weighed in on whether or not the infamous "Tornado Alley" is shifting eastward.

A brief break in the stormy pattern for the country's eastern half is expected during the middle of the week. However, another storm is expected to strike by late-week.

"The same storm that is expected to bring yet another round of heavy rain, snow and strong winds to California early in the week may also be responsible for the next severe weather threat in the Plains," warned Deger.

As the storm strengthens in Colorado, the cool air coming out of the Rockies, combined with warm, moist conditions from the Gulf of Mexico are expected to make for a rather potent, multifaceted storm with the risk for snow, flooding and severe thunderstorms in the Plains.

The track and strength of the storm will ultimately determine which areas have snow and which have severe weather. A track into Kansas is most likely to put areas in Texas, Oklahoma and southeastern Kansas most at risk for a few storms that turn severe. All modes of severe weather, including flooding downpours, hail, damaging winds and even tornadoes, are possible.

AccuWeather long-range meteorologists warned in February that the uptick in severe weather across the Plains and Gulf Coast could persist even into April in the U.S. spring forecast.

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