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Severe Storms Still A Threat For Florida, Deep South

UPDATED 1 AM CST, February 2, 2011

UPDATED By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Fred Allen

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The same powerful blizzard that has relentlessly pounded the Plains into the Midwest on Tuesday is now charging across the Gulf Coast, bringing with it a line of ferocious thunderstorms.

The strongest thunderstorms, containing damaging wind gusts up to 70 mph and even the threat of an isolated tornado or two will continue to rumble across eastern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle this morning, before slowly trudging eastward into southern Georgia and deeper into northern and central Florida by sunrise. Although the threat for tornadoes will wane in the next few hours, the potential will still exist for a few of these fresh storms to produce damaging wind gusts. Cities such as Tallahassee, Fla., and Valdosta, Ga., could be in line to see a few powerful storms in the next several hours.

These early-season storms are being powered by a potent combination of a strong cold front roaring into the Lower Mississippi and western Tennessee Valley. This cold front is working with an extremely moist, even tropical-like feed of deep Gulf moisture streaming northbound into the Southeast and over Florida this morning. Additionally, a dramatic temperature contrast of temperatures in the 20s and 30s behind the front and upper 60s to lower 70s situated across the Southeast and Florida are producing ripe conditions for explosive thunderstorm development. The greatest threat for tornadoes within any of the stronger thunderstorms will be relegated to the Florida Panhandle for the next few hours, where more shear, or the turning of wind increases with height in the atmosphere.

One tornado has already been confirmed on Tuesday. This twister, which was rated EF-1 with winds of 86 to 110 mph, hit Oak Hill, Texas, damaging two homes and ripping half of one of the homes` roofs. Numerous reports of wind damage have been received across eastern Texas, Louisiana, and southern Mississippi and in southeastern Alabama, with one storm near Grand Lake, La., that ripped turbine ventilators off of a roof.

As quickly as the severe weather arrived on Tuesday, it will be replaced by the harsh reality of mother-nature and a winter chill this morning. Temperatures today will be 10 to 20 degrees colder than those seen yesterday.

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