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Dangerous Storms Moving Into Southeast, Tenn. Valley

UPDATED 3:15 PM EST, December 17, 2012

UPDATED By WeatherBug Sr. Meteorologist, James West

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An early-week round of stormy weather is firing across the Southeast and the lower Ohio and Tennessee valleys this afternoon. Hail, damaging winds and even a few tornadoes will accompany this spring-like storm.

A Tornado Watch is in effect from southeastern South Carolina to northern Florida, including Charleston, S.C., Valdosta, Ga., and Tallahassee, Fla. A separate Severe Thunderstorm Watch is in effect this afternoon across southern Indiana, middle Tennessee and much of Kentucky this afternoon and evening. Nashville, Tenn., and Louisville, Ky., is included in this watch. A Tornado Watch is in effect across northern Florida, southeastern Georgia and extreme southern South Carolina.

Strong thunderstorms are already firing across Kentucky and Tennessee early this afternoon, with even more storms likely throughout the watch area. Another line of storms is moving into tornado watch area.

A complex weather set-up is developing across the South this afternoon. A developing low pressure area is forming along the tail end of a cold front draped from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast. Ahead of this low and the front, warm and humid air is surging northward, while cooler air is shifting southward through the Mississippi Valley. The low and its attached cold front will start to advance eastward this afternoon, producing the collision needed to generate storms.

The clash of air masses is leading to thunderstorm development, particularly to the east of the low`s path. Sections of Georgia and South Carolina, where temperatures in the 70s will be found, will be at risk for 60 to 70 mph winds and even a few weak tornadoes. Meanwhile, cooler air along the western fringes of the low will trigger thunderstorms equipped with hail to the size of golf balls.

Cities such as Louisville, Ky., Nashville, Tenn., Columbia, S.C., Savannah, Ga., and Tallahassee, Fla., are most at risk for these dangerous storms. Away from the center of the low, warm air will surge northward along the East Coast. A few rumbles of thunder could be heard this evening in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York.

While not typical, December severe storms have been occurring quite frequently lately. Friday brought five tornadoes to the Texas Panhandle, while another storm system last Monday produced an EF-1 tornado in Baker, La., and another EF-1 in Dexter, Miss. As many as seventeen twisters were reported last week.

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