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Tornado Watches Issued as Severe Weather Outbreak Begins in Midwest, South and East

Weather.com – by Jonathan Belles

A potential severe weather outbreak is getting started late this afternoon and evening in the Midwest and South before sweeping into the East Wednesday, with a threat of tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail.

The storms are developing in response to a strong jet stream surging into the eastern half of the country, blasting atop a warm and increasingly humid air mass. A sharpening cold front will eventually sweep to the East Coast, as well.  

Moderate to strong wind shear, the change of wind speed and direction with height, will allow storms to grow and persist. This will also increase the risk of tornadoes, some of which could occur after dark.

Happening Now

Storms are beginning to fire up in the Midwest and will only increase in coverage through the late afternoon and evening.

NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center has issued the following watch areas:

  • A tornado watch is in effect until 9 p.m. CST for parts of far southeast Kansas, the southern half of Missouri and southern Illinois. This watch area includes St. Louis, Springfield, Missouri, and Carbondale, Illinois.
  • A tornado watch is in effect until 10 p.m. CST for portions of southeast Iowa, northern and central Illinois, northwest Indiana and northeast Missouri. This watch area includes Chicago, Rockford, Illinois, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
  • A tornado watch is in effect until 10 p.m. CST for parts of northern and central Arkansas and the Missouri bootheel. This watch area includes Little Rock and Fort Smith, Arkansas.

A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms including damaging hail and winds in the watch area.

Current Radar, Watches and Warnings

Current Radar, Watches and Warnings

Tornado (red) or severe thunderstorm (yellow) watches are shown by solid, shaded polygons. Warnings are indicated by outlined polygons.

There were a few severe thunderstorm warnings Tuesday morning in parts of the Midwest.

Golfball size hail – 1.75 inch diameter – was reported in Perty County, Missouri, between St. Louis and Cape Girardeau just after 2:30 a.m. CST.  Hail to the size of quarters was reported in southern Wisconsin late in the morning.

Storms containing hail continue to trek northeastward through Missouri and the Quad Cities region with hail up to one inch.

Forecast Timing

Tuesday Afternoon

  • Scattered severe t-storms are expected to break out late this afternoon in parts of northern and central Illinois, eastern Iowa and northeast Missouri. Severe storms are also possible farther south in parts of southern Missouri or Arkansas.
  • Very large hail, damaging winds and a few strong tornadoes are possible.
  • Cities: Little Rock | Chicago
Tuesday's Thunderstorm Forecast

Tuesday’s Thunderstorm Forecast

Areas in red have the highest chance of severe thunderstorms. Areas in orange are expected to see thunderstorms, not necessarily reaching severe criteria.

Tuesday Night

  • More widespread severe weather is expected as one or more clusters of severe thunderstorms will race through the southern Great Lakes, Ohio Valley, mid-Mississippi Valley and possibly as far south as Arkansas and northeast Texas.
  • Damaging straight-line winds are the main threat, though some embedded rain-wrapped tornadoes are possible.
  • Since tornadoes could develop overnight, be sure to have a way to get warning information while you sleep.
  • Cities: Detroit | Columbus | Louisville | Little Rock | Memphis
Tuesday Night's Thunderstorm Forecast

Tuesday Night’s Thunderstorm Forecast

Areas in red have the highest chance of severe thunderstorms. Areas in orange are expected to see thunderstorms, not necessarily reaching severe criteria.

Wednesday

  • One or more squall lines of severe thunderstorms ahead of the cold front will move from the Ohio Valley into the mid-Atlantic states, trailing south into the Tennessee Valley and Deep South.
  • Damaging winds will be the primary threat, though a few tornadoes can’t be ruled out.
  • Cities: Jackson, Mississippi | Birmingham | Nashville | Atlanta | PittsburghWashington D.C.
Wednesday's Thunderstorm Forecast

Wednesday’s Thunderstorm Forecast

Areas in red have the highest chance of severe thunderstorms. Areas in orange are expected to see thunderstorms, not necessarily reaching severe criteria.

Wednesday Night

  • A broken line of scattered severe storms may persist from as far north as the New York City Tri-State into the Southeast (Carolinas, Georgia, southern Alabama).
  • Damaging winds will be the primary threat, though a few tornadoes can’t be ruled out.
  • Cities: New York | Raleigh | Columbia
Wednesday Night's Thunderstorm Forecast

Wednesday Night’s Thunderstorm Forecast

Areas in red have the highest chance of severe thunderstorms. Areas in orange are expected to see thunderstorms, not necessarily reaching severe criteria.

Very-Welcome Rainfall

Along with the storms, locally heavy rainfall amounts will be seen across parts of the South and Ohio Valley.

A swath of the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys is expected to pick up 1 to 2 inches of rainfall. Localized amounts up to 3 inches are possible.

Forecast Rainfall

Forecast Rainfall

Much of the South remains in a severe drought that dates back to summer.

With just a few exceptions, the Southeast has seen below-average rainfall since the beginning of February. Parts of Mississippi have seen less than 25 percent of their average February rainfall.

Numerous sites across the South and mid-Atlantic states are experiencing one of their top-10-driest Februaries.

Current Drought Monitor

Current Drought Monitor

U.S. Drought Monitor/NOAA

https://weather.com/storms/severe/news/severe-thunderstorms-mississippi-valley-deep-south-late-february-early-march

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3 Responses to Tornado Watches Issued as Severe Weather Outbreak Begins in Midwest, South and East

  1. # 1 NWO Hatr says:

    I’m good here with the chance of earthquakes, lots of rain, and the occasional snow.

    No hurricanes, no tornadoes.

  2. BMF says:

    I’m in tornado alley. It can sometimes make for a little bit of…excitement.

    I remember one time driving down the road, blasting my car stereo, when I thought I heard a strange noise. At first I thought nothing of it and ignored it for a little, but then curiosity made me shut off the music. That’s when I heard that it was the town’s tornado sirens! I was like, “Oh, great…” At the time I was surrounded by trees and buildings, so I wouldn’t have seen it coming even if it had been 100 yards away. (Later I learned that radar had picked up a tornado, but apparently it hadn’t touched down.)

  3. Paul says:

    had a little rain and wind here. damage south of us though.

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