Published December 18, 2013
Thunderstorms in parts of the South this weekend may become strong enough to threaten lives and property.
A surge of warm, humid air associated with a developing storm over the South Central states this weekend will spark thunderstorm development.
The area of concern for severe weather Saturday will reach from part of northeastern Texas to a large part of Louisiana and Mississippi, southeastern Arkansas, southeastern portions of Missouri and western portions of Tennessee and Kentucky.
The main threats are damaging wind gusts and flash flooding, but there is also the risk for a few tornadoes within this zone.
According to AccuWeather.com Severe Weather Expert Henry Margusity, "While the risk of severe thunderstorms will shift eastward over time Saturday into Sunday, the greatest risk for tornadoes will be Saturday into the first part of Saturday night centered over the lower Mississippi Valley."
Cities that may be hit with damaging thunderstorms and travel disruptions include Longview, Texas; Little Rock, Ark.; Shreveport, La.; Jackson, Miss.; New Orleans; and Memphis, Tenn.
What will elevate the danger with the severe weather is that some of the strongest storms and the potential for tornadoes will occur after dark Saturday.
Locally strong and drenching thunderstorms with the risk of urban flooding will extend northward into the upper part of the Ohio Valley Saturday night and as far east as the Appalachians and the northeastern Gulf Coast by Sunday.
Blinding downpours and water-logged roadways will reach from I-10 to I-70 with severe thunderstorms centered on the I-55 corridor.
It is possible parts of the coastal mid-Atlantic and southern New England will have a rare December thunderstorm Sunday night.
North and west of the storm track, a zone of ice and snow will occur that can be rather heavy from parts of the central Plains to the Great Lakes, northern New England and neighboring Canada.
While severe weather outbreaks are more rare during the winter months, they are no stranger to the South Central states in December.
A major tornado outbreak stretched from Arkansas to Alabama and as far north as Illinois during Dec. 18-19, 1957. The storms took the lives of 19 people.
Just last year on Christmas Day, a severe thunderstorm and tornado outbreak reached from northeastern Texas to central Alabama.