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Damaging storms to roar across southern US

AccuWeather logo AccuWeather 12/5/2021 Mary Gilbert

Despite the calendar flip to December, severe weather season is not yet in the rear-view mirror for some residents across the southern United States. AccuWeather forecasters say the threat for severe weather more reminiscent of springtime than early December, will roar to life across portions of the southern United States early this week.

"While December brings more winterlike weather for some portions of the country, severe weather is expected to make a return to portions of the country including much of Arkansas and western Tennessee," AccuWeather Meteorologist Lauren Hyde said.

A cold front associated with a potent storm set to dump snow across portions of the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes and portions of Canada, will stretch south and dig into the southern tier of the U.S. early this week.

"A cold front will swing across the Mississippi Valley and Ohio Valley on Sunday, dampening locations spanning from Missouri to western Ohio," AccuWeather Meteorologist Alyssa Smithmyer said.

"By Sunday night into Monday morning, thunderstorm activity is likely to ramp up across the Mississippi Valley."

Conditions in the atmosphere across portions of the southern Plains and Southeast will be primed to produce a few explosive storms Sunday night into Monday.

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Areas from eastern Texas, through portions of Louisiana and Arkansas, northward into southern Indiana, southwestern Ohio and much of Kentucky, will all be at risk for feisty storms early this week. Residents in cities like Houston; Nashville, Tennessee; Louisville, Kentucky; and Cincinnati, will have to keep an eye to the sky for changing weather later Sunday.

"The main threats for these storms are expected to be hail and damaging winds, though an isolated tornado cannot be ruled out," Hyde cautioned.

Forecasters say isolated tornadoes cannot be completely ruled out anywhere across the areas at risk for severe weather, but they have pinpointed a more-defined area that may need to take extra precautions.

Areas from northern Louisiana to Arkansas to northern Mississippi and western Tennessee are in the bullseye for isolated tornadoes Sunday night, including cities such as Shreveport, Louisiana; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Memphis, Tennessee.

With a majority of these strong storms likely to develop once darkness has blanketed the region, it is important for residents in the areas of concern to have multiple ways to recieve potentially life-saving weather warnings.


In the strongest storms, damaging winds can gust in the range of 50-60 mph with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 75 mph.

Winds of this magnitude can be enough to bring down trees or power lines. With the potential for power outages, residents should also make sure all devices are charged up and ready to go before the overnight hours.

In addition to hail, wind and isolated tornadoes, any feisty storm has the potential to bring heavy rainfall as well. Flash flooding may occur in any of these heavy downpours, especially in low-lying or poor-drainage areas.

Flooded areas can be difficult to impossible to spot at night, so forecasters urge anyone that must travel to allow extra time and be prepared with back-up routes in case of flooded roadways.

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"As this initial storm continues to transition northeastward, the trailing cold front will quickly shift across the Northeast on Monday and bring an influx of moisture over the Eastern states while gusty downpours and thunder continue to sweep along the Gulf Coast states on Monday," Smithmyer said.

Portions of Louisiana and Mississippi will continue to deal with drenching, potentially-damaging storms on Monday.

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Many residents may consider severe weather season to be essentially over by early-December, with the traditional peak in activity falling during the springtime. However, a secondary peak in the severe weather season often occurs during the autumn months.

"This secondary peak is often a result of cold fronts diving southward into warm and humid air masses originating from the Gulf of Mexico, which is a common occurrence with early season snowstorms," Smithmyer explained.

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