Potent Storms To Reignite Severe Weather Dangers In Southeast

Wednesday, December 29, 2021 - by AccuWeather
Less than three weeks after a historic tornado outbreak devastated portions of the central and southern United States, more rounds of severe weather, that includes the risk of tornadoes, will target parts of the regions during the final days of 2021 and the start of 2022.

Barely 24 hours after a storm brought heavy snow to part of the Midwest, the first of two new storms will swing across the Plains and into the Mississippi Valley into Wednesday night. The storm will create an overabundance of warm, moist air from northern Louisiana to southern Kentucky, which will serve as a perfect environment for thunderstorms to erupt and become severe.

The first storms will fire Wednesday afternoon in parts of Louisiana, southeastern Arkansas, northwestern Mississippi and western Tennessee then progress eastward toward central Alabama, northern Georgia and middle and eastern Tennessee Wednesday night.

“The main threat from these storms will be flash flooding and damaging winds, with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 80 mph,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Matt Rinde cautioned, adding that there can also be isolated tornadoes and hail late Wednesday.

Any thunderstorm will arrive with the potential to produce significant rainfall in a short amount of time.
Too much rain too quickly can lead to the development of flash flooding, which can turn dangerous quickly for anyone in its path.

In addition to heavy rainfall, any stronger storm can produce locally damaging winds on the order of 50-60 mph. Winds of this magnitude can lead to tree damage and sporadic power outages out at midweek.

Areas likely in the path of these potentially feisty storms include cities like Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee; Tupelo, Mississippi; Birmingham, Alabama; and Atlanta. Travelers on portions of interstates 20, 40, 55 and 65 will also need to keep alert as weather conditions can change rapidly. Since some of the storms will occur well after dark, there will be an added danger to motorists and people at home or at work. A means to monitor weather bulletins is strongly recommended.

This latest threat of potential severe weather comes just over two weeks after a prolific tornado outbreak left entire towns in ruins and at least 92 people dead, according to The Associated Press.

The outbreak, which occurred on Dec. 10 and Dec. 11, produced at least 66 confirmed tornadoes. According to AccuWeather Founder and CEO Dr. Joel N. Myers, the tornadoes are expected to cost about $18 billion in total damage and economic loss.

Cleanup efforts are still underway, especially in places like Mayfield, Kentucky, where damage was extensive. In locations impacted by the strongest of the tornadoes, entire homes were blown off foundations, buildings crumbled and infrastructure was turned to rubble.

While the strongest storms at midweek are expected to remain south of the hardest-hit areas, any rain or wind will be enough to hinder cleanup efforts for a time.

After a relatively quiet Thursday, a larger and even more powerful storm will swing out of the Western states and slice northeastward over the central U.S. by this weekend. This second round may include much of the area hit in early December and extend well beyond the area forecast to be hit into Wednesday night.

Storms are likely to hold off during most of the daylight hours on Friday. However, during Friday evening, the thunderstorms are forecast to erupt and rapidly turn severe from the Red River Valley of Texas and Oklahoma to the middle Mississippi and Ohio valleys and progress eastward into the Tennessee Valley during the nighttime hours on New Year’s Eve.

The severe storms and perhaps the tornado risk may continue through the time people finish partying for the night and into New Year’s Day from portions of the southern Appalachians to the central Gulf coast.

The same storm will produce a swath of accumulating snow from portions of the central Plains to the Great Lakes region during the first part of this weekend. The storm will also bring a rapid plunge in temperature that can cause some wet areas to turn into a sheet of ice.

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