Severe Winds Expected to Strafe Carolinas, Virginia

April 19, 2019, 12:35 PM EDT

Above: Sonya Banes reacts to a large oak tree that crashed through the patio of her mother's house in Learned, Miss., on Thursday, April 18, 2019. Several homes were damaged by fallen trees in the community. Image credit: AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis.

Damaging winds may be widespread on Friday afternoon and evening from eastern South Carolina to eastern Virginia, as a multiday severe weather episode reaches its finale. The NOAA/NWS Storm Prediction Center placed the region under a moderate risk of severe weather. Tornadoes are possible, but the most far-reaching impacts will likely be from damaging thunderstorm winds. This is the first moderate-risk outlook for parts of the Carolinas since early 2016.

Severe weather outlook from the NOAA/NWS Storm Prediction Center for Friday, April 19, 2019
Figure 1. Severe weather outlook from the NOAA/NWS Storm Prediction Center for Friday, April 19, 2019, updated at 1630Z (12:30 pm EDT).

An extremely strong upper-level jet will be racing north over the mid-Atlantic states, while a surface low pulls warm, humid air beneath the jet. Because the air aloft is relatively warm, instability may be on the weak side in some areas for a severe weather outbreak, but strong jet-related dynamics should more than compensate. Wind gusts of 60 to 80 mph could mix down in the bursts of heavy rain accompanying an intense squall line that will push eastward across the region. A few supercell storms could also form just ahead of the line.

At 1 PM EDT Friday, a continuous belt of tornado watches extended all the way from south of Tampa, Florida, through the western Carolinas and western Virginia to the Maryland/Pennsylvania border.

Thursday’s storms across the South (with a few stragglers over the Southern Plains) were also wind-dominated, with 211 reports of severe wind and 10 tornado reports but just 1 report of severe hail. Three deaths were associated with Thursday’s severe weather, which knocked out power to almost 100,000 homes and businesses in five states. See the recap for more on Thursday’s severe weather.

Thursday's storms followed a more multi-faceted round of severe weather in the Southern Plains on Wednesday that yielded 12 tornado reports, 88 hail reports, and 78 reports of high wind. Hail up to 3" in diameter pounded parts of northwest Oklahoma.

For more on Friday's anticipated outbreak of high winds, see the frequently update forecast article.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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Bob Henson

WU meteorologist Bob Henson, co-editor of Category 6, is the author of "Meteorology Today" and "The Thinking Person's Guide to Climate Change." Before joining WU, he was a longtime writer and editor at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO.


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The comments made below do not necessarily represent the views of Weather Underground; The Weather Company, an IBM Business; or IBM. Comments below should not be perceived as official forecasts or emergency information. For official information on potential storm impacts and evacuation information, please follow guidance from your local authority's emergency operations department.