Tornado risk to increase over storm-ravaged Tennessee Tuesday

Following storms capable of producing large, damaging hail over the southern Plains during Monday night, all forms of severe weather, including tornadoes, are possible over portions of the Tennessee and lower Mississippi valleys on Tuesday.

As warm and more humid air begins to flow northward over portions of Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas after dark on Monday, big storms are likely to erupt.

“With this particular severe weather threat, it looks as though the storms will be ‘elevated’ in nature whereas some of the severe elements, such as high winds will not reach the ground,” AccuWeather Lead Storm Warning Brian Knopick stated.

The most common occurrence during the storms will be vivid lightning and torrential downpours. In some cases, the hailstones can grow to the size of golf balls or larger, which can cause significant vehicle damage and break windows.


“There could still be a couple of storms that extend down to near the ground farther south over parts of Oklahoma. Where this happens the storms can then produce strong wind gusts and perhaps an isolated tornado, but most storms in this setup will tend to produce large hail and torrential downpours,” he added.

The same storm system poised to bring severe weather over parts of the southern and central Plains during Monday night will travel eastward on Tuesday where an expanded risk of violent storms may develop.

“The complex of storms is expected to continue to move eastward and clear southeastern Kansas and eastern Oklahoma around daybreak Tuesday and weaken while moving across the Ozarks in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas during the midday hours on Tuesday,” Knopick said.

The main threat from storms on Tuesday are once again likely to be large hail and torrential downpours with frequent lightning strikes.

“We are concerned about a narrow zone that could allow a few isolated tornadoes and storms with damaging winds to develop over portions of northeastern Arkansas to Tennessee,” Michaela Heeren, AccuWeather storm warning meteorologist, said.

It is possible this risk extends southward to include the northern tiers of Mississippi and Alabama as well.

The swath in which some of the strongest storms may occur on Tuesday includes the Nashville, Tennessee, area that was hit hard by tornadoes a few weeks ago. The storms took dozens of lives and demolished long-standing neighborhoods in middle Tennessee during the early morning hours on Tuesday, March 3.

The greatest threat from the storms on Tuesday will be during the daylight hours, including in middle Tennessee. However, a few severe storms may linger while shifting eastward after dark across eastern Tennessee and perhaps southeastern Kentucky.

There have been 163 tornadoes in 2020 through March 11, based on preliminary storm reports from the Storm Prediction Center. January and February both yielded above-average numbers of tornadoes, and even though March’s preliminary number for twisters is pacing behind average, there have been more tornado fatalities than the three-year average with a total of 25, compared to SPC’s three-year average of seven. The strongest tornado so far in 2020 was the Cookeville, Tennessee, storm with a strength of EF4 and estimated winds of 166-200 mph on March 3.

President Donald Trump, center, accompanied by from left, Tennessee first lady Maria Lee, Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter, Mike Herrick, with Putnam County Rescue Squad, Cookeville Mayor Ricky Shelton, Trump, and Gov. Bill Lee, R-Tenn., as they tour damage from a recent tornado, Friday, March 6, 2020, in Cookeville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

As the same storm system continues to move eastward, a narrow zone of heavy, gusty and perhaps isolated severe weather may occur in the eastern part of the Carolinas to southeastern Virginia on Wednesday.

Any storms on Wednesday along the southern Atlantic seaboard are likely to be brief due to the fast movement of the system.

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