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Damaging winds possible Thursday night as cold front sweeps through the Palmetto State

Storms could bring damaging winds to portions of the Palmetto State overnight Thursday.
Justin Ballard
NWS Storm Prediction Center
Storms could bring damaging winds to portions of the Palmetto State overnight Thursday.

A vigorous system is going to bring an end to spring-like warmth late in the week and it could come with the potential of severe thunderstorms overnight Thursday.

An area of low pressure was located near the Ozarks late Thursday morning along a frontal system that stretched from eastern Canada to northern Mexico. On the northern side of this frontal system, heavy snow and sleet are possible across the Midwest. South of the frontal system, warm and muggy conditions could lead to the potential for strong thunderstorms.

Forecast models depict a surge of moisture moving into the Palmetto State Thursday afternoon, with widespread dew point numbers in the mid-60s possible. It does appear that large scale lift will be limited, however, the quickly moving cold front could be enough to overcome other limiting factors for severe weather. The Storm Prediction Center has the risk for severe weather Thursday night along and west of I-95, including the Columbia and Greenville-Spartanburg areas.

Thunderstorms are expected to enter the Upstate after midnight Friday, but storms could be on a weakening trend by then as they outrun higher levels of instability. By daybreak Friday, a broken and weakening line of storms will be nearing Columbia and the Pee Dee region. As the cold front pushes through the state, storms should exit the coastline by the early afternoon. A few lingering showers are possible across the Lowcountry during the afternoon, but the risk for strong storms will be over.

Damaging wind gusts are the primary risk for Thursday night's storm potential. Some of the most intense storms could bring hail, especially across the Upstate. Severe storm potential should greatly diminish by daybreak Friday through the afternoon, though a few rumbles of thunder are expected across the Lowcountry.

Temperatures are expected to drop following the passage of the cold front. Forecast highs in the middle and upper 70s Thursday could fall into the lower 60s as colder air arrives Saturday.