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Severe Storms Target Gulf Coast Christmas Eve, Day

11 AM EST December 23, 2012

By WeatherBug Meteorologist, John Bateman

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A potent system moving out of the Southern Plains will help spark off some strong-to-severe storms as we move into the Christmas holiday. Strong winds around this system, along with warm, moist air from the Gulf, will help fuel thunderstorms in the Lower Mississippi Valley on Monday and keep them going into Christmas Day across the Southeast.

The thunderstorms that bubble up Monday will generally start in the late-afternoon and evening across southeastern Texas and western Louisiana. Afternoon highs in the 70s and a strong southwesterly wind will kick off these storms and maintain them as they trek across the Deep South. As evening wears on, it appears the risk for severe storms will slide eastward ahead of the low pressure center and cold front, into central Louisiana and Mississippi.

Some cities potentially in the path of these storms Monday include Austin, Waco, and Lufkin, Texas. By evening, the storms will be rolling into locations like Lake Charles and Alexandria, La. The main threat from these storms will be wind gusts of more than 60 mph; however, due to a fairly strong wind field with this system, some isolated tornadoes will also be possible anywhere in the slight risk area.

Once the storm pushes eastward Christmas Day, the focus will switch to the Deep South and Southeast. By this time, this storm system will be bringing a better chance for severe storms over a much wider area. Once again damaging winds will be the main threat, but tornadoes will also become more likely as the afternoon wears on. Some locations potentially at risk include Houston, New Orleans, Jackson, Miss., Birmingham, Ala., and eventually Atlanta by Tuesday evening. Some storms could even last into early Wednesday morning as the system slides across the Southeast.

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