Severe Weather Outbreak in Eastern US – Tornado Watch Issued for Parts of Louisiana and Mississippi
On Thursday, February 16, 2023, the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC) issued a warning of a growing threat of severe weather in portions of the eastern U.S. Widely scattered severe thunderstorms are possible from the central Gulf Coast states northward into the Ohio Valley and Lake Erie vicinity on Thursday and Thursday evening. The SPC warned that severe wind gusts capable of wind damage and tornadoes are the primary severe hazards from this expected severe weather outbreak.
In addition, the SPC issued a Tornado Watch for parts of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Arkansas until 5 a.m.  Severe weather is expected to continue into the early hours of Thursday morning. The cities of New Orleans, Monroe, and Alexandria (Louisiana), as well as Jackson and Vicksburg (Mississippi) are at a moderate risk of experiencing severe weather and tornadoes. Severe weather is expected to affect Shreveport, Louisiana; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Memphis, Tennessee, among other major cities.
The storm could include damaging winds up to 60-70 miles per hour, tornadoes, and small hail. EF-2 or stronger tornadoes are possible across the Gulf Coast on Thursday, with the greatest potential for a strong tornado lasting more than a few minutes from discrete cells ahead of the main line of thunderstorms.
In addition to the severe weather, a widespread soaking of 2 to 3 inches of rain is expected across parts of the lower and mid-Mississippi Valley through Thursday, with locally higher amounts expected to approach 5 inches through Wednesday night.
Individual supercells will organize into a powerful line of thunderstorms overnight and into Thursday, eventually marching across southern Alabama, Georgia and the Florida Panhandle on Thursday. Winds that cause damage are the primary hazard, yet tornadoes may also be a possibility with these storms. The severe weather threat for Thursday is expected to occur between the hours of noon and 8 PM. There is a risk that the heavy rain will persist into the night, potentially causing more flooding issues.
Residents and communities are advised to remain weather aware and be prepared for potential severe weather conditions. Make sure to have several ways of receiving weather information and watches and warnings. Be sure to stay tuned to the latest forecasts and advisories for the most up-to-date information.
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