Over the past 24 hours, the southeastern US has been pummeled by a virulent area of low pressure that tapped into both the warmth and moisture of the southeast and the still wintry conditions found in the middle of the country. The tight circulation associated with the low brought tornadoes from Arkansas to Florida. In between, particularly in southern Mississippi and Georgia, they were tragic.
Tornadoes and other strong wind events have killed at least 18 people, most of them in Georgia, particularly near Valdosta. The first deadly tornado of the sequence went through the Hattiesburg area. A recent tweet from the Jackson NWS office highlights the pertinent information from this storm, in which 4 lost their lives.
Latest information on the long-track EF3 tornado in SE MS occurring late Friday night. pic.twitter.com/cZHxylgXQ0
— NWS Jackson MS (@NWSJacksonMS) January 23, 2017
The hardest hit area was Petal, which is just across the river from Hattiesburg.
In Georgia, the town of Adel sustained a great deal of damage, where 7 people were killed. The initiation of this activity today even looked ominous. I captured a radar signature from early this afternoon.
Thos isolated cells running west to east were all rotating, and would ultimately drop the tornado that would be fatal in Adel. The rest of the line would continue to produce discrete supercells throughout the rest of the day, verifying the SPC’s outlook, putting forth a “high risk” for severe weather. Florida had never been placed in a high risk before today.
Another startling feature of this storm was just how far to the south supercells appeared. This is obviously an anecdote, but I can’t recall ever seeing supercells as far south as Orlando before. This is because the change in airmass is usually not as severe, thanks to the modifying impact of the surrounding ocean. Not today. Storms are still raging across the southern portion of the state, and there have been severe reports as far down the Gulf Coast as Bradenton, where there was mobile home damage.
There remains a tornado watch, including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Key West as storms continue across the tip of the peninsula. Severe warnings are presently out for West Palm, and winds of 50mph have already been reported in Fort Lauderdale, though those reports haven’t officially been logged by the SPC. Fortunately, this line of storms is the end of it, at least for a while. We do still have the entire spring to look forward to.
(Just before I pressed publish, the severe storms have lead to a warning for Key West, which is another thing I have never seen before)