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Strong Storms for Atlanta, Birmingham, Huntsville

December 09, 2012; 4:54 PM

Despite it being December, the weekend is ending with severe thunderstorms threatening the lower Mississippi Valley. On Monday, the danger will shift to communities farther east in the South.

Violent thunderstorms will continue to erupt from eastern Arkansas, western Tennessee and northwestern Mississippi to eastern Texas (north of Houston) through tonight.

Memphis, Tenn., Monroe, La., and Greenwood, Miss., are among the communities at risk.

The strongest thunderstorms will be capable of unleashing damaging winds, hail and flooding downpours. A tornado or two touching down cannot be ruled out.

On Monday, the threat zone will shift east and encompass areas from Chattanooga, Tenn., and Rome, Ga., to Meridian, Miss. Huntsville, Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Ala., also lie in this zone.

The good news is that a widespread outbreak of severe weather is not expected tonight into Monday. The danger will instead be on a localized level.

However, residents in the threat zones should not let their guard down. It only takes one violent thunderstorm or tornado to turn the lives of a family or community upside down.

That was clearly evident shortly before 3 p.m. EST today when powerful winds within one of the first severe thunderstorms to erupt ripped the roofs off an apartment building and several mobile homes four miles west of Viola, Ark.

Violent thunderstorms erupting first late this afternoon will target places just to the northwest of the above area.

People should also not have a false sense of security in regards to severe weather just because it is December.

"In each year through at least 2006, there has been at least one severe weather outbreak that included tornadoes, damaging wind gusts and large hail during December," stated AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

The three-year average for tornadoes in December stands at 34, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

The culprit behind the violent thunderstorms into Monday with the clash of significantly colder air plunging southward with unseasonable warmth.

It is easy to see why the atmosphere will become so volatile by looking at high temperatures before and after the severe weather erupts.

Temperatures on Monday across East Texas and much of the lower Mississippi Valley are forecast to be 20 to even 30 degrees colder than today's warm highs.

While not as dramatic, the temperature change from Monday to Tuesday farther east in the South (not including the immediate Atlantic coast and the Florida peninsula) will be on the order of 10 to 15 degrees.

Thumbnail image courtesy of John Panella/Photos.com.

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