A severe fall season brings a strong tornado threat to Texas and surrounding states on Friday
The clash of the seasons is underway as early winter blasts meet record autumn warmth, leading to a powerful storm system in the South and creating the biggest tornado threat the US has seen in more than five months.
A tornado watch was in effect Friday afternoon for nearly 12 million people in parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, and according to the Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office in northeast Texas, there were reports of tornadoes and damage there Friday afternoon.
“A few tornadoes are possible over far southeast Oklahoma and east Texas,” he said Storm Prediction Center he warned Friday in his severe weather forecast, adding “a strong tornado or two may develop from late afternoon to early evening.”
The Storm Prediction Center has highlighted a ‘moderate risk’ – level 4 out of 5 – area of severe thunderstorms Friday for eastern Texas, southeastern Oklahoma, southwestern Arkansas and northwestern Louisiana.
The Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area remains at increased risk – level 3 out of 4 – for Friday.
“Most likely area for severe tornadoes [EF2 or higher] it will be from far southeast Oklahoma southward to eastern Texas east of the I-35 corridor,” the forecast center said.
A tornado watch is in effect until 8 p.m. local time and includes north central and northeast Texas, eastern and southern Oklahoma, and northwest Arkansas. It includes Dallas, Waco and Tyler, Texas, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Fort Smith and Fayetteville, Arkansas.
In addition to intense tornadoes, scattered large to very large hail larger than golf ball size (2 inches in diameter) is also possible, according to the Storm Prediction Center.
The main threat will shift from tornadoes Friday afternoon and evening to damaging winds moving into the overnight hours as thunderstorms align and spread across Arkansas and Louisiana.
As the storms push eastward, significant widespread and damaging winds are forecast for parts of the Ark-La-Tex region Friday night. Because of this, the forecast center raised the danger level for Friday.
“Storms will continue well into the night, tracking much of Louisiana and Arkansas, and western Mississippi,” the forecast center added.
This storm system will move quickly from the west to the east, which will minimize the possibility of flash flooding across the Ark-La-Tex region. Farther north, one to four inches of rain is expected through Saturday across a wide area from Kansas to Wisconsin.
Rainfall is much needed in this region as the recent drought has led to the Mississippi River record low levelswhich affects transportation and the supply chain.
In all, 42 million people from Texas to Wisconsin are at risk of severe storms on Friday. Houston, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Little Rock, Kansas City and Wichita are also included in the risk areas.
Last time the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area was at increased risk or more is May 24th.
While tornadoes in the US can occur any month of the year, they are most common in the spring thanks to the collision of cold and hot air as the seasons change. The same confluence of temperatures occurs in the fall, which is why you’ll often see a secondary “heavy season” later in the year.
“You can see that while the spring months are our busiest time climatically, there is a secondary spike in tornado activity in November,” the National Weather Service said in New Orleans said.
Texas sees the most tornadoes (7) in the month of November on average, followed by Alabama (6), Louisiana (5) and Mississippi (5).
The time of day when a tornado occurs makes a big difference in the fatality rate. Nighttime tornadoes are more dangerous because many people are asleep and unaware that they need to seek a safe location. Although the higher tornado threat for this particular event exists during the day, there is still a chance for a few rotating storms during the evening hours.
Make sure you have your severe weather safety plan ready to go before bad weather hits. Know where you’ll go if you’re hit by bad weather and make sure your flashlights are working and cell phones are fully charged in case you lose power.
“One of the most important features of your severe weather safety plans is to have a reliable means of receiving severe weather warnings,” the New Orleans Weather Service said.
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