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Potential tornado outbreak looms for Election Day

NBC News logo NBC News 11/3/2018 Ethan Sacks
a group of people standing in front of a military vehicle: US President George W. Bush (L) reaches © Jim Watson US President George W. Bush (L) reaches

While all eyes are on the political forecasts going into Election Day, the actual weather should not be overlooked.

Meteorologists are tracking conditions for a potential tornado outbreak that could blow through a major swathe of the country early next week, and have an impact on several high-profile races along the way.

"It's still too early to identify location and duration and potential intensity," Patrick Marsh, a warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center, told NBC News. "But extreme weather could play a big role on voting."

The potential extreme weather is reminiscent of the "Super Tuesday" tornado outbreak on Feb. 5 and 6, 2008, a swathe of destruction that left 57 people dead on a day when voters in 24 states were heading to the polls in caucuses and primaries for the presidential election.

a close up of a map: The area of concern for severe weather and tornadoes on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2018. © NOAA The area of concern for severe weather and tornadoes on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2018.

Eighty-seven tornadoes ravaged 10 states during that outbreak.

"This has really been the third or fourth day in a row that we are seeing conditions set up for an extreme weather event in the Deep South on Tuesday," NBC News meteorologist Bill Karins said on Friday.

"The parameters are there for supercell thunderstorms which can produce strong tornadoes," he added.

Four days out, Karins said the highest chance of tornadoes are in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee.

By Tuesday morning, Marsh said there are projections that the storms could move east through Tennessee — where former Democratic governor Phil Bredesen against Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn are pitted in a tight race for the Senate seat vacated by Bob Corker — and Georgia, which is in the midst of a fierce battle for the governorship between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp.


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