Weather experts warn of brutal storms, tornado outbreaks in the South


Weather Twitter is abuzz with storm warnings.

That’s because some of the most dangerous weather possible — severe thunderstorms and tornado outbreaks — is brewing in the South, and will peak Wednesday night in Mississippi and Alabama (though Southern areas in the surrounding region are certainly at risk too). Dangerous storm threats will continue on Thursday, particularly in the Carolinas and Georgia. 

“Today (March 17) and tomorrow (March 18) will be extremely challenging days for U.S. severe thunderstorms,” tweeted meteorologist Steve Bowen. “Please be mindful & alert to any warnings issued for your area. Strong (long-tracked) tornadoes, large hail, & damaging non-tornadic winds all expected.”

It’s extreme. The National Weather Service predicts high tornado risks on Wednesday in parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Georgia. The highest risks are in regions of Mississippi and Alabama.

“This is a dangerous severe weather event unfolding,” tweeted Taylor Trogdon, a scientist at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, an organization that researches weather and climate.

“This is a dangerous severe weather event unfolding.”

Severe thunderstorms called “supercells,” the type that can spawn tornadoes, can form when opposing masses of air clash in the atmosphere. In this case, cold air traveling east across the U.S. has collided with warmer, moist air moving north. This creates atmospheric instability and chaos. Strong winds blow from different directions at different heights, setting the stage for storms to form, and for some to start spinning (as air continually rises and falls in a powerful, towering storm, air currents can start spinning in the supercell, potentially leading to a tornado).

Here’s what weather experts are saying:

Anyone in this stormy region should heed the warnings of both the National Weather Service  (NWS) and their local NWS offices.

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