The cold front back to our west is starting to organize a squall line that will increase in intensity later on today. There have already been over a dozen wind reports along the line and tornado watches are up for locations west of the Mississippi River in Arkansas. As the day goes on, daytime heating will allow the line to intensify, and a storm or two ahead of the line is not without question. The strongest part of the front, however, does look to remain just to our north. A moderate risk area from the Storm Prediction Center, the level up from slight risk, comes as far south as Louisville and Macon.
This storm system still looks to be on track with an arrival between 10pm Thursday and 2am Friday. The 10pm arrival time is for locations along and west of Highway 35 (Carthage, Forest) with about a 1am arrival for Highway 45 (Scooba, Meridian, Quitman) and about a 2am arrival for West Alabama. The line could speed up and knock a couple hours off arrival times during the day, so you should pay very close attention to the weather starting around sunset. The severe storms should clear by sunrise with the rain gone by noon.
WHAT TO EXPECT
As with any squall line, the main threat is damaging winds. Locations along and north of I-20/Highway 80 will have the greatest risk of severe weather with locations south seeing the threat decrease. That being said, the same type of weather is possible everywhere. Winds with the strongest cells in the line could be as high as 80mph with tornadoes possible in storms that develop ahead of the line and any embedded supercells in the line itself.
WHAT TO DO NOW
Since we are almost 12 hours before arrival for many of us, now is the time to be prepared. Make sure your NOAA Weather Radio is working or that you have a way to get warnings. If you haven't already, like the WTOK-TV Facebook page or follow us on Twitter @Newscenter 11. You can also find Jeff Burrowes and myself on Facebook and Twitter as we provide updates before, during, and after the event.
I expect most of East Mississippi to go under either a tornado or severe thunderstorm watch later this afternoon. Once a watch is issued, pay extra close attention to the weather as these storms will be arriving fairly quickly after that point.
Remember, if you cannot be near a TV, we live-stream all newscasts and severe weather cut-ins on our webchannel, wtok.com/livestream.