An intense storm system is forecast to track across the Central United States early this week, bringing a myriad of impactful weather hazards from the Plains to the Gulf Coast region. While heavy snowfall is expected across parts of the Plains, severe thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes are likely along coastal areas of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Meteorologists are warning residents across the Gulf Coast to prepare for the arrival of severe weather Monday through Tuesday as a surge of warm, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico clashes with much colder air associated with the advancing storm system. This clash of air masses will create an unstable atmosphere ripe for thunderstorm development.
Forecast models indicate the storm's centre will track from the South Central states into the Mississippi Valley on Monday. Bands of heavy rain and embedded thunderstorms are expected to develop and sweep through Texas during the day on Monday from Dallas and Austin eastward toward the Gulf Coast. Torrential downpours and damaging wind gusts are likely with some of these storms.
By Monday evening, the focus for severe weather is expected to shift eastward into Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle as storms organize near the Gulf Coast. Meteorologists say the atmospheric ingredients will be favourable for thunderstorm development during the overnight hours. These nocturnal storms often produce tornadoes that go undetected in darkness.
The highest risk for tornadoes appears to be across northeastern Texas, Louisiana and central Mississippi, where wind shear profiles support rotating supercell thunderstorms. The clash between warm, humid air surging northward and much colder air to the north will create an unstable atmosphere with plenty of energy for severe storms.
Residents across these areas should have multiple ways of receiving weather alerts overnight Monday into early Tuesday morning. Pay close attention to local media and weather reports throughout the day on Monday as forecasters refine the areas most likely to experience tornadoes and damaging winds overnight.
Having a safety plan in place and being weather alert through the overnight could save lives.
Gulf Coast residents are urged to secure outdoor furniture and other loose objects that could become dangerous projectiles in high winds. Charge cell phones and other devices if power outages occur during the storms. Keep flashlights and fresh batteries handy. Stay on the lowest floor of sturdy buildings, away from windows, if tornado warnings are issued. Do not seek shelter in mobile homes or portable structures that offer no protection from tornadoes.
Meteorologists will closely monitor thunderstorm development across Texas and the Gulf Coast region through Monday evening, allowing time for advanced warning if dangerous weather threatens.
While severe weather is not unusual during January across the southern U.S., this storm system packs ample energy and moisture to spur potentially widespread severe storms capable of significant impacts. Residents should prepare now for the arrival of severe weather and have a safety plan ready to protect lives and property.