Violent weather across South could make for dangerous Easter weekend

Possible tornado activity might be part of a "powerful and destructive storm" expected in the Deep South on Easter weekend, AccuWeather meteorologists said. File Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association

April 11, 2020 (AccuWeather) — A multi-day severe weather outbreak is set to unfold from the southern Plains to the northeastern United States through early next week, and AccuWeather meteorologists are particularly concerned about the tornado potential for portions of the Deep South on Easter Sunday.

A clash of chilly air over the center of the country and warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico will collide as a storm moves into the Plains this weekend.

“In order to get severe weather, you need a strong storm or an extreme weather set up; we have that,” said AccuWeather Chief broadcast meteorologist Bernie Rayno, citing the storm that has brought rounds of rain and snow to California this week.

Weekly rainfall totals hit 2.8 inches this week in Los Angeles, more than triple the normal rainfall amount for the entire month of April.

“A powerful and destructive storm is expected to spread severe weather from the southern Plains to the Northeast this Easter weekend,” said AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Edwards.

The first round of severe weather will first begin on Saturday, targeting parts of Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Severe thunderstorms will first emerge in Texas, slowly spreading eastward throughout the afternoon and evening on Saturday.

“Large hail and damaging wind gusts will be the main threats on Saturday and Saturday night, but isolated tornadoes are also possible,” said Edwards.

Those from the I-10 corridor to the Red River, including cities such as Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Austin, Texas, will all be at risk, as well as many communities such as Lake Charles and Shreveport, La.

“The storm looks like it may weaken some on Saturday, that’s why we think the severe weather is going to be isolated across Texas. On Sunday, though, [the storm] strengthens, and that’s why we believe that Sunday we are looking at widespread severe weather,” added Rayno.

Severe storms will spread to the eastern side of the Mississippi River into Easter Sunday. AccuWeather meteorologists say more widespread severe weather is expected this day, including a more significant threat of tornadoes.

A tornado outbreak is not out of the question. The American Meteorological Society defines a tornado outbreak as 10 or more twisters touching down from the same weather system.

“Given the elevated threat of tornadoes, those from Louisiana to central Tennessee and northern Alabama should be prepared ahead of the weekend to take cover should a tornado approach,” said Edwards.

Thunderstorms will also still be capable of producing damaging winds and hail.

Flooding will also be a concern through the weekend as heavy downpours drench areas across the South.

A general 1-3 inches of rainfall is expected in just a few days, with an AccuWeather Local StormMax of 6 inches.

Storms will persist through Sunday night and spread through the mid-Atlantic and parts of the Northeast and the Eastern Seaboard into Monday.

Although a waterspout or a tornado is possible, the more widespread threats are expected to be hail and damaging winds.

Most thunderstorms are expected to weaken or push off-shore by early in the afternoon on Monday.

A potent weather system with widespread severe weather and tornadoes is not uncommon for this time of year.

In fact, April or early May is typically when many areas from Texas to North Carolina to Michigan often experience their peak number of tornadoes.

Some of the most infamous tornado outbreaks in U.S. history have occurred in April, including 2011’s “Super Outbreak” which produced a confirmed 362 tornadoes from April 25 to 28 as well as the devastating 1974 April 3-4 outbreak.


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