December 16, 2019

A Quick-Hitting Storm Will Bring Midwest Snows And Severe Thunderstorms To South



A low-pressure system will develop over the Mid-South on Monday and dominate weather east of the Mississippi River for the next couple of days. The storm will start with a quick thump of snow across the Midwest and Ohio Valley, with severe thunderstorms developing in the storm's warm and humid airmass across the Deep South. Snow and ice will spread toward the Northeast on Tuesday before the storm races out to sea on Wednesday.

Wintry Weather



Winter storm warnings are in effect across central Missouri and central Illinois ahead of a period of heavy snow expected during the day on Monday. The snowfall forecast map above shows all the snowfall forecasts issued by local National Weather Service offices across the country. The NWS forecast shows up to five inches of snow across the winter storm warning, which isn't a whole lot, but it's enough to snarl traffic and make travel a headache when roads are at their worst.

Winter weather advisories exist from the central Plains to the Northeast, with more advisories and warnings likely as the storm moves east. It doesn't take much snow or ice to make travel difficult or even impossible. I've long argued that an inch of snow is more dangerous than a foot of snow, and the danger only grows when there's freezing rain, sleet, or roadway refreezing in the mix.

Severe Thunderstorms


It's not all cold and snow. Warm and humid air will rotate around the southern end of the low-pressure system, providing a decent amount of instability to fuel severe thunderstorms.

The Storm Prediction Center issued an enhanced risk for severe weather—a three out of five on the scale measuring the risk for severe thunderstorms—across portions of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, on Monday afternoon.

The greatest risk from the strongest thunderstorms is damaging wind gusts in excess of 60 MPH and the possibility for tornadoes. The threat for tornadoes appears maximized around central Louisiana and Mississippi, where the SPC painted a 10% risk for tornadoes on Monday. Tornadoes are most likely in discrete thunderstorms, while damaging wind gusts are favored in squall lines.

If you have any friends or family in the area, it's a good idea to give them a heads-up about the risk for severe thunderstorms on Monday and Monday night, especially since a decent number of the storms will roll through after sunset. Nighttime storms are dangerous both because people tune out as they wind down before bed and the fact that the urge to look for approaching storms and tornadoes can be overwhelming. Make sure you've got a way to receive severe weather warnings once you go to bed, and please trust that they're real and resist the temptation to look for the storm before seeking shelter.


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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I ran Gawker's The Vane for two years and I've contributed to Mental Floss, Forbes, Popular Science, and the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang. I also teamed up with Outdoor Life to write a book called The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, which came out in October 2015.

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