Valdosta Daily Times

December 24, 2012

Forecasters fear tornado outbreak for much of Southeast

Valdosta likely to see high winds, rain

Staff, wire reports
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Forecasters are concerned that an outbreak of severe weather, including tornadoes, could ruin Christmas Day for families and communities from Texas to South Georgia. Valdosta could be in for damaging winds and brief torrential downpours, say meteorologists.

The area at greatest risk for damaging thunderstorms and tornadoes on Christmas Day stretches from southeastern Texas to the Florida Panhandle and southwestern Georgia, according to AccuWeather.com.

AccuWeather meteorologists are especially concerned for the potential for loss of life with this outbreak since it will actually commence during the predawn hours of Christmas across southeastern Texas. Tornadoes touching down during the nighttime hours is always a dangerous situation as people may sleep through vital warnings or have difficulty seeing an approaching twister.

The severe weather danger will then expand eastward on Christmas Day, encompassing central and southern Louisiana, the southern half of Mississippi and Alabama and southwestern Georgia and the Florida Panhandle, according to AccuWeather.

Forecasters “can’t rule out a tornado” for Valdosta, but the worst threat for twisters is to the west on Christmas, said Kristina Pydynowski, senior meteorologist for AccuWeather.com

The violent thunderstorms should organize into a solid line by Tuesday night and march across Alabama, northern Florida and Georgia with damaging winds, according to AccuWeather.

Valdosta should receive the worst weather Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, said Katie Moore, meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Tallahassee office.

Both Moore and Pydynowski said Lowndes County could see wind gusts up to 60 mph accompanying a severe thunderstorm. Rainfall totals could come close to half an inch, with three-quarters of an inch possible in isolated spots, said Moore.

The severe weather danger should reach the Southeast coast, from eastern North Carolina to northeastern Florida, on Wednesday, according to AccuWeather. Wilmington, N.C., Charleston, S.C., Savannah, Ga., and Jacksonville, Fla., are among the communities at risk this day.

The same storm set to trigger the impending severe weather outbreak will also spread a swath of significant snow from the southern Plains to the eastern Great Lakes and Northeast from Christmas Day to Thursday.

Ahead of this storm, another system will trigger showers and thunderstorms across the South today. Thunderstorms causing damage today would be extremely isolated occurrences, but the danger of lightning striking anyone spending Christmas Eve outdoors will still exist.

Following the storm front, temperatures should take a dip. Highs for Tuesday in South Georgia are expected to be in the 70s, Pydynowski said, but should dip into the upper 50s by Thursday.