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Powerful Storms Eye Lower Mississippi Valley

UPDATED 5:30 PM CST, February 21, 2013

UPDATED By WeatherBug Meteorologist, James West

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Spring is still a month away, but Mother Nature is reminding everyone that severe storm season has started. Severe thunderstorms packing large hail, damaging wind gusts, and even a few tornadoes will rumble across eastern Texas and lower Mississippi Valley today. A

Due to the threat for severe storms and possible tornadoes, Tornado Watch has been issued for south-central Mississippi, including Hattiesburg, Miss.

This is all part of the same storm that is dropping the season`s heaviest snow thus far from the eastern Colorado Foothills all the way to the shores of Lake Michigan.

A low pressure is developing across far western Texas with a secondary one over eastern Texas. As this system grows and spreads across the southern Plains and lower Mississippi Valley, warm, humid air is flowing north from the Gulf of Mexico, feeding a line of potentially strong-to-severe thunderstorms marching eastward out of eastern Texas and into northern and western Louisiana and southwestern Mississippi.

The storms will grow in coverage and intensity this afternoon and evening while rolling across far southern Arkansas, Louisiana and much of central and southern Mississippi. Cities such as Shreveport, Alexandria, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, La., and Jackson, Greenville, and Hattiesburg, Miss., will all need to be on the lookout for potentially destructive thunderstorms.

Large hail and damaging wind gusts will be the chief concerns, though a few strong tornadoes cannot be completely ruled out either. Even worse, the storms will be capable of triggering flash flooding, with soils recently saturated from a fast-moving southern storm track in the past few weeks. One to 3 inches of rain will not only overwhelm storm drains causing urban flooding, but excess runoff could cause rivers and streams to exceed bank level in rural areas.

This week`s severe weather is just 10 days removed from a February 9-10 event across the same areas. In total, 96 reports of severe weather were recorded, the most significant of which was an EF-4 tornado that tore a 21 mile path of destruction through Hattiesburg, Miss., injuring 82 people.

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