A very dynamic weather pattern across the Southeastern US will support a major severe weather outbreak this afternoon and evening. Destructive tornadoes are especially a concern in Georgia and Florida where the NWS Storm Prediction Center has out looked a High Risk for severe thunderstorms.



A Tornado Outbreak in January??

While the calendar may say January, the weather pattern set up and energy in the atmosphere is more like a spring scenario. This is a complex weather pattern. The surface low and warm front in the Tennessee River Valley will provide warm and very moist air into the southeast, especially across Florida and Georgia this afternoon and evening. Dew points as of noon are already in the middle 60’s to lower 70’s.


Farther west, a second low in the Southern Plains is the driver for the eastward movement of the cold front that will also be a player to fuel an outbreak. As this front rapidly moves across the Southeast this afternoon and evening, it will help be a focus for storm development.

Another key player is the winds in the lower layers of the atmosphere are very strong and shift from the south to the southwest/west creating “directional and speed wind shear.” Wind shear is one of the factors we look for tornado development. The wind shear numbers are very concerning for this afternoon and evening and would support intensive long track tornadoes.

Where is the Greatest threat for Tornadoes

NWS Storm Predication Center has outlined a HIGH RISK for southern Georgia as well as northern Florida. This includes cities such as Tallahassee, Albany, Valdosta, Waycross, Savannah, Jacksonville, and Gainesville.  Surrounding the high risk areas, NWS SPC has outlined a broader Moderate Risk that includes western Florida, southeast Alabama, central Georgia, South Carolina and central Florida. The graphic below outlines the areas for tornado risk.



In addition to the tornado threat, these areas also have a threat of straight-line damaging winds and large hail.


day 1 hail prob

When was the last time we had a High Risk for a Tornado Outbreak?

NWS SPC Warning Coordination Meteorologist Patrick Marsh indicated the last time SPC issued a high risk for tornadoes was on 4/28/2014 for Mississippi and Northwest Alabama.

SPC sparingly issues a High Risk, which highlights the potential significance of this event and the high level of concern.

Actions You Can Take To Prepare

For those in the Southeast, especially in the HIGH to MODERATE Risk areas, remain in tune with the weather today and tonight. These storms will develop and move quickly. Decide NOW where you can take cover in the event that a warning is issued for your location. That may include changing your plans for this afternoon/evening and asking a friend/neighbor/relative if you can stay with them, if you do not have a sturdy place to take shelter in your own home. Have multiple ways receive notifications, such as a NOAA Weather Radio, your local TV and Radio stations.  

Also consider moving equipment, vehicles and other outdoor items inside so they do not take flight or are damaged by large hail.

Farmers…make sure shed and barn doors are latched and you have tied loose items down, if you are not able to bring them indoors. Livestock owners, if you can bring your livestock to protected areas, do so. Otherwise, know the location of your livestock in case you need to quickly check on them after storms go through.

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