Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tornado,s USA (

Conditions for tornadoes ramping up across the South

An outbreak of severe storms and tornadoes is likely across the South today, and torrential rain is forecast for other areas as the nasty weather heads east.

Find a Forecast
Find your local weather with The Weather Channel zip-code lookup:

A tornado leaves damage on Feb. 6, 2008, in Lafayette, Tenn. Tornadoes will be possible across the South on Thursday.

A tornado leaves damage on Feb. 6, 2008, in Lafayette, Tenn. Tornadoes will be possible across the South on Thursday.

The most dangerous storms will strike late afternoon into the evening as they move across Arkansas and spread into northern Mississippi and western Tennessee, according to the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) in Norman, Okla.

"Tornadoes, a few possibly strong, and particularly damaging winds will be possible," the SPC says.

The big cities most at risk are Dallas, Little Rock, Memphis and Nashville, the Weather Channel reports.

The forecast calls for as much as 5 inches of rain to drench the lower Mississippi Valley and Ohio Valley regions. Flood watches are posted from Arkansas to Pennsylvania.

This year, 11 tornadoes have struck across the USA, the SPC reports. Severe weather, which can include tornadoes or storms producing large hail or damaging winds, is running 60% below average this year, Weather Channel severe weather expert Greg Forbes says.

"The cold weather has suppressed the severe weather activity," he says. "We're now getting into the time of the year for the severe weather threat to ramp up."

More severe storms that are potentially more powerful could form early next week, Weather Channel meteorologist Tom Moore says.

"Things will get active over the next couple of weeks," Forbes says, because of a more "progressive" weather pattern with fast-moving storms racing across the country.

Spring could be worse than average from the lower and mid-Mississippi Valley into the Tennessee Valley, with a higher number of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in the area, AccuWeather forecaster Paul Pastelok says.

As the South deals with storms and tornadoes, the West Coast will continue to shiver with very cold, snowy weather. Snow fell Wednesday in both Seattle and Portland, Ore., and the National Weather Service reported that there is a chance for snow in San Francisco on Friday and Saturday.

That would be the first snowfall in San Francisco in 35 years. The last measurable snow was 1 inch that fell on Feb. 5, 1976, according to the private Golden Gate Weather Services in San Francisco.