Tornado Watches issued for 4 million as storms threaten South through Wednesday

Severe thunderstorms packing damaging winds, large hail and tornadoes are rumbling across the storm-fatigued South, targeting some of the same areas that were on the receiving end of multiday severe weather outbreaks over the past two weeks.

A squall line of strong to severe thunderstorms is currently charging eastward through the Deep South, prompting Tornado Warnings and Severe Thunderstorm Warnings.

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has issued the following severe weather watches:

  • A Tornado Watch is valid until 9 p.m. for Middle and South Georgia and South Carolina
  • A Tornado Watch is valid until 7 p.m. from the Florida Panhandle into Central Georgia

This latest siege of severe weather kicked off Monday evening over North Texas and southern Oklahoma, where damaging winds and large hail were reported across the region.

At least one person was killed in Whitehouse, Texas, late Monday night when a severe storm swept through the city, knocking down numerous trees and power lines.

Rusk County, Texas, including the city of Henderson, suffered some of the worst wind damage overnight from the severe thunderstorms. A roof was blown off a building in downtown Henderson, while other buildings around the city saw roof and awning damage, according to reports from the National Weather Service.

RELATED: Overnight storms bring 2 confirmed tornadoes, flash flooding across North Texas

There was also damage to homes in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, including Collin, Ellis and Johnson counties, from one or more possible tornadoes Monday night. However, no tornadoes had yet been confirmed in this area as of Tuesday afternoon. The NWS will survey storm damage over the coming days to determine whether the damage was caused by tornadoes or straight-line winds.

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Here's what to expect through Thursday.

Into Tuesday night

The highest threat for severe weather is from southern Alabama to the Florida Panhandle, Middle and South Georgia and southern South Carolina.

This will be caused by a line of strong to severe thunderstorms charging eastward across the Deep South, packing threats of damaging wind gusts and several tornadoes, including the risk of an EF-2 or stronger tornado.

Locally heavy rain will also overspread areas from the central Gulf Coast to the Piedmont of the southern Appalachians, yielding an increased threat of flash flooding.

Wednesday-Wednesday night

Scattered severe thunderstorms are possible again Wednesday afternoon from southern portions of Alabama and Georgia into northern Florida, where damaging wind gusts and a few tornadoes are possible.

In addition, as a cold front slices through a warm, humid air mass in place across the Southeast, additional scattered severe storms are expected to develop ahead of the front during the late-afternoon and evening hours from the Tennessee Valley to the southern Appalachians. Damaging wind gusts and a couple of tornadoes are the main threats in those areas.

RELATED: Metro Atlanta feels effects of heavy rain, wind from strong storms


The cold front will reach the East Coast by Thursday.

A few strong to severe thunderstorms could linger through Thursday afternoon in southeastern Virginia, eastern North Carolina and the Florida Peninsula before the storms push offshore in the evening.

Damaging gusts and hail are the main threats with these storms.

Threat of heavy rain, flash flooding

Not only is severe weather expected, but there could also be areas of heavy rain across the South through midweek.

A broad area of 1 to 3 inches of rainfall could drench areas from the lower Mississippi Valley to the southern Appalachians and northern Florida.

Locally higher amounts over 3 inches are possible where any heavier bands of rain stall for a period of a few hours or longer.

While this should help to alleviate ongoing drought conditions from the Southern Plains to parts of Louisiana, there could be instances of flash flooding in portions of the Southeast and the southern Appalachians, where soils remain saturated after a wetter-than-average March.

Water rescues were required Monday night in McKinney, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, after three vehicles were swept away by floodwaters. Four people needed to be rescued by McKinney Fire Department’s Special Operations Teams.

Active stretch for tornadoes

While the frequency of tornadoes typically increases during the spring, this recent stretch has been more active than usual.

A record-breaking 249 reports of tornadoes were tallied in March, besting the previous record of 225 reports from March 2012. That's more than 2.5 times the monthly average. Sixteen different states had at least one tornado report last month.

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