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Weekend Damaging Storm Risk La., Miss., and Ala., to Ind., Ky.

December 21, 2013; 1:10 PM

Thunderstorms in parts of the South Central states this weekend may become strong enough to threaten lives and property. A few of the thunderstorms can produce tornadoes.

A surge of warm, humid air associated with a developing storm over the South Central states this weekend is sparking severe thunderstorm development.

Severe weather into Saturday evening reached from part of northeastern Texas to a large part of Louisiana and Mississippi, southeastern Arkansas, southeastern Missouri, southern Illinois and western portions of Tennessee and Kentucky.

Saturday night the severe weather risk will reach into southern Indiana, central Kentucky, middle Tennessee, Alabama and part of the Florida Panhandle.

The main threats are damaging wind gusts and flash flooding. Wind gusts can reach 80 mph in some of the strongest storm. Rainfall is forecast to be heavy enough to cause flash, urban and small stream flooding.

This was already occurring in many locations in the evening hours Saturday.

Cities impacted by damaging thunderstorms and travel disruptions include Houston; Shreveport, La.; Jackson, Miss.; New Orleans; Birmingham and Mobile, Ala., Cairo, Ill., Louisville, Ky.; and Nashville and Memphis, Tenn.

There is still the risk for a few tornadoes within this zone after dark Saturday.

According to Mike Smith, senior vice president of AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions, "My concern is since this is both out of season and a holiday travel weekend, people might be caught off guard."

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Locally gusty and drenching thunderstorms with the risk of urban flooding will extend northward into the upper part of the Ohio Valley Saturday night and as far east as the Appalachians and the northeastern Gulf Coast by Sunday.

Blinding downpours and water-logged roadways will reach from I-10 to I-70 with severe thunderstorms centered on the I-55 corridor.

It is possible parts of the coastal mid-Atlantic and southern New England have a rare December thunderstorm Sunday night.

North and west of the storm track, a zone of ice and snow will occur that can be rather heavy from parts of the central Plains to the Great Lakes, northern New England and neighboring Canada.

While severe weather outbreaks are much more rare during the winter months, they are no stranger to the South Central states in December.

A major tornado outbreak stretched from Arkansas to Alabama and as far north as Illinois during Dec. 18-19, 1957. The storms took the lives of 19 people.

Just last year on Christmas Day, a severe thunderstorm and tornado outbreak reached from northeastern Texas to central Alabama.

"A tornado struck downtown Mobile, Ala., last Christmas afternoon," Smith added.

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