After suffering through a surge of winter tornadoes in the new year, the southeast could be facing yet another string of storms, thanks to the unseasonably warm weather spreading from Texas to Alabama.
A surge of strong storms is expected to batter the south on Tuesday night and into Wednesday, bringing severe thunderstorms, damaging winds, and the potential for more tornadoes. The US has already experienced a chaotic start to 2023, with 700 severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings issued across the country.
As of January 18, the official tornado count rested at 135 – over 100 more than the annual average of thirty. At least 60 of those occurred in the southeast, with official tornado counts still under processing.
The next round of storms is emerging due to the warm air swept in by Winter Storm Kassandra. As low pressure hit the South, a surface low-pressure system will build near the Gulf Coast. When that system hits the warm, humid air of the Gulf of Mexico, the atmosphere across the southernmost states will turn unstable. It’s this unstable atmosphere that opens the door for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.
As a result, experts expect severe thunderstorms to slam into the mid and upper Texas coast on Tuesday afternoon. The system will then spread eastward into Tuesday night, reaching southeastern Louisiana, coastal Mississippi, southwestern Alabama, and the western tip of the Florida panhandle.
Forecasters Predict EF-2 Tornadoes to Strike Southeast
According to forecasters, the devastating storms could cause damaging winds and thunderstorms, with several tornadoes, some of which could reach strengths of EF-2 or higher.
“So we do have a very likely setup for southeast Louisiana, really paralleling I-10 through southern portions of Mississippi and Alabama,” explained FOX Weather meteorologist Britta Merwin. “In fact, New Orleans all the way to Pensacola (Florida), we have a high potential that we could see some isolated tornadoes, some of which could be as strong as an EF-2 or higher, which specifically for this area, that’s a pretty large threat.”
This alarming forecast comes in the wake of the deadly tornadoes that crashed into the Southeast a mere two weeks ago. Nine states were affected, with at least seven people killed in a violent EF-3 tornado in Alabama.
“It’s been a rough several weeks, and unfortunately, Tuesday night into Wednesday morning will be a timeframe to watch very closely,” Merwin said. “A lot of this threat will be during the overnight hours, and that’s always a very large concern because you will be sleeping. So Tuesday night into Wednesday morning is when you want to have that phone right next to your bed with your notifications turned on, so if you do get a Tornado Warning, you can act immediately.”
On Wednesday, the severe storm threat will spread north, affecting the Florida panhandle all the way to southern Virginia. These southeastern storms threaten damaging winds and tornadoes as well.