Following a day of violent weather in the South, another round of severe storms is forecast to fire up across parts of the southern and central Plains on Thursday.
Widespread severe storms that include damaging wind gusts, large hail and a few tornadoes are expected Thursday afternoon and evening, the Storm Prediction Center said. Hailstones greater than 2 inches in diameter and strong wind gusts will be possible along the more intense parts of a fast-moving line of storms.
The states at greatest risk for severe storms Thursday are Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. Big cities such as Oklahoma City and the Dallas/Ft. Worth area are in the path of the violent weather.
A tornado watch was issued Thursday afternoon for north Texas and much of Oklahoma, including both the Oklahoma City and Dallas/Ft. Worth metro areas. A tornado watch means weather conditions are ripe for tornadoes to form.
On Wednesday, damaging winds, destructive hail and a few tornadoes toppled trees, damaged buildings and blew cars off a highway as powerful storms crossed the South from Texas to Georgia. One man was struck by lightning in Troup County, Georgia. He survived the strike with only minor injuries, WSB-TV said.
In all, there were over 500 reports of severe weather on Wednesday, the SPC said.
Current US weather watches, warnings map
Baseball-sized hail and 80 mph wind gusts
Much of Oklahoma was under a “moderate” risk for severe storms Thursday. That’s level 4 out of 5 on the severe storm risk scale. The National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma, warned of a “significant severe weather” outbreak.
People “should be prepared for hail up to the size of baseballs and winds up to 80 mph with the stronger storms,” the weather service said.
There’s also the chance of a derecho forming across the region, forecasters warned. Derechos can pack lethal gusts in excess of 100 mph – hurricane strength – across a front stretching for many miles, and last for hours.
In addition to the Plains, “a severe threat will also exist today across parts of the Southeast, and in parts of the Midwest,” the SPC said.
In the Southeast, there are “additional chances for flash flooding and severe weather from the central/eastern Gulf Coast to parts of southern Georgia and northern Florida,” the weather service said.
And in the Midwest, there is a “marginal” risk of severe weather in Ohio and Michigan, according to the SPC.
Friday’s forecast: Another round of storms likely
The active weather will not conclude Thursday. Another round of intense thunderstorms are possible on Friday, forecasters said.
“Scattered strong to severe thunderstorms will be possible Friday through Friday night from the central High Plains southeastward to parts of Florida and southern Georgia, and over portions of the Mid-Atlantic region,” the SPC said.
AccuWeather added that “within these zones, thunderstorms are expected to bring not just torrential downpours but strong, damaging winds with gusts above 75mph, large damaging hail, frequent lightning, and localized tornadoes.”
Storm damage reports from Wednesday’s storm
Record-breaking heat in Texas and Deep South
A mid-June heat wave continues to scorch much the South on Thursday, with the worst of the heat in south Texas, where it could feel as hot as 120 degrees, the weather service said. “Dangerously hot temperatures and high humidity” will be the main weather story Thursday and over the next few days across much of the Lone Star State.
Sultry heat indices of up to 110 degrees will also extend east into southern Louisiana. In Texas, heat advisories are in place in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio. In Louisiana, cities under heat advisories include Lake Charles, Alexandria, Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Some high temperature records could be set in a few areas. In addition, the heat wave isn’t expected to let up and is likely to continue into next week.
“Residents and visitors within regions impacted by excessive heat are urged to follow proper heat safety; such as staying hydrated, limiting time outdoors, and checking in on any vulnerable friends, family, and neighbors,” the weather service said.