Tornado threat to accompany Ida's flooding in mid-Atlantic

·3 min read

Tens of millions of people in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast will be at risk for heavy, flooding rainfall as Ida moves toward the region on Wednesday. However, some residents will have more to worry about than just drenching rain.

"The significant threat of flash and river flooding will be accompanied by severe weather in some areas, adding additional risk to lives and property along a portion of the Interstate 95 corridor," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Renee Duff.

It is not uncommon for tornadoes to form with tropical systems, given the spin already present in the atmosphere. However, these tornadoes differ from ones that typically develop in the Plains.

"This is the type of situation where tornadoes can spin up quickly with little notice and can be obscured by heavy rainfall," cautioned Duff.

On Wednesday afternoon, a tornado reportedly hit the Annapolis, Maryland, area and caused damage and scattered debris as it ripped through the region. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

This risk may extend from eastern North Carolina through central and eastern Virginia and as far north as southeastern Pennsylvania and central New Jersey.

"The tornado threat will include several major metropolitan areas such as Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia," said Duff.

According to the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center, more than 28 million people are facing a slight risk for severe weather on Wednesday. That slight risk area covers locations from New York City to Norfolk, Virginia.

More than 14.5 million are under an enhanced threat for severe weather on Wednesday. This includes Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. An enhanced risk is the third highest risk category, one level above a slight risk, according to the SPC.

In late July, parts of the Philadelphia suburbs and southern New Jersey were pounded by severe weather that resulted in numerous tornadoes. Bensalem, Pennsylvania, which borders northeastern Philadelphia, was struck by an EF3 tornado that destroyed a car dealership on its rampage through the area.

While the risk of tornadoes will be highest in the mid-Atlantic, other locations may face a tornado threat as well.

"Depending on how far to the north the circulation of Tropical Rainstorm Ida tracks, the isolated tornado risk could extend as far north as New York City and southeastern New England," Duff said.

Although tornadoes may occur during the day on Wednesday, the risk will continue into Wednesday night. This will add the danger of tornadoes touching down under the cover of darkness. AccuWeather forecasters emphasize the importance of having the means to receive any severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings.

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"Residents going about their daily routines will certainly want to keep an eye on the weather throughout the day and have the means to receive weather alerts overnight and take shelter if necessary," advised Duff.

Pockets of damaging wind gusts are possible, even outside of tornadoes. With the ground already saturated after a very wet August in some locations, less powerful wind gusts could topple trees and power lines.

The soil is soaked and tree roots may have already been weakened following the passage of Tropical Storm Fred and Hurricane Henri over the past few weeks. As a result, some trees may be more susceptible to toppling over as Ida moves through the region.

Some rain is expected to linger along the southern New England coast on Thursday morning, but severe weather is not expected. Even after the rain ends, some rivers will continue to rise through the end of the week and into the weekend.

Correction: Bensalem, Pennsylvania, borders Philadelphia County, but is about 20 miles north of Center City, Philadelphia.

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