A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect for the Columbia area Sunday, as powerful storms are forecast to hit the Midlands region of South Carolina.
The storms could cause severe weather threats that include large hail, damaging winds, and a possible tornado, the National Weather Service said.
The severe thunderstorm watch went into effect at 6:35 a.m. and will run through at least 1 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. In addition to Richland and Lexington counties, other areas of the Midlands included in the watch are Sumter, Kershaw, Calhoun, Saluda, Clarendon, Lee and Orangeburg counties.
The storms are forecast to move over the Midlands between 9 a.m. and noon, the National Weather Service said.
The current forecast shows that the winds will weaken as they push east of the Columbia area during the afternoon. Additional storms are expected Sunday night, but the threat for severe weather is lower, according to the National Weather Service.
Wind gusts moving up to 60 mph are possible, the National Weather Service said.
Powerful winds and tornadoes could cause considerable damage to trees and branches, in addition to mobile homes, roofs and outbuildings. Vehicles would also be under siege in the case of a tornado.
Damage to trees and branches creates the possibility of downed power lines and outages.
Another effect of the storms is heavy rain, which creates the possibility of flash flooding, the National Weather Service said.
There is a 90% chance of precipitation in the Columbia area, and up to 3 inches of rain is possible through Sunday night, the forecast shows. Localized amounts in other areas of the Midlands could be higher.
The flash flooding threat will be focused on areas that receive multiple rounds of thunderstorms as well as urban areas, according to the National Weather Service.
Temperatures are forecast to be in the 70s Sunday, and are expected to rise to the 80s Monday when more rain is likely.
There have already been powerful storms that affected the Midlands in 2023.
In the first week of January, five tornadoes were confirmed in the Midlands.
During those Jan. 4 storms, wind bursts as powerful as 90 mph were recorded as tornadoes were confirmed in Lexington, Orangeburg, Aiken and Calhoun counties, the National Weather Service said.
A week later, another tornado was confirmed just across the state line in Georgia, before the storms marched through the Midlands, according to the National Weather Service.
Another round of storms rumbled through the region in the last week of January. Severe weather wasn’t as much of a threat in February, but record-high temperatures were recorded across the Midlands.