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Weather

Tornado Watch in effect for Midlands, Lowcountry Wednesday night

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Justin Ballard
/
Storm Prediction Center
A Tornado Watch is in effect for much of the Midlands and Lowcountry through Wednesday evening.

The atmosphere has become increasingly supportive for the development of tornadoes Wednesday evening ahead of a powerful spring system.

After Tuesday's more than 20 reports of tornadoes in South Carolina, another Tornado Watch is in effect for portions of the Midlands and Lowcountry through much of Wednesday evening. Locations within this watch area include Columbia, Augusta, and Charleston.

Surface analysis Wednesday afternoon depicts a complex puzzle of boundaries across the Southeastern U.S. for storms to initiate near. To add extra energy to the atmosphere, a cold front is approaching the region from the west. Models suggest development of storms will first occur in the warm sector of the low pressure area. Thunderstorm development is expected to be more cellular in nature initially, which is when the risk for tornadoes will be highest. In this environment, winds in the lower levels of the atmosphere are veering, or turning clockwise with height. When winds exhibit this behavior, it suggests that the environment is more than capable of producing rotating supercells.

The outflow from thunderstorm development across the Southeast is forecast to organize convection into a more linear nature during the early overnight hours. During this time, damaging straight-line winds will become the bigger concern across the Palmetto State, though a few embedded tornadoes remain possible. On top of the damaging winds and tornado risk, large hail is also a present danger as mid-level support is favorable in storms with robust updrafts. High-resolution weather models tend to agree that storms push offshore during the predawn hours of Thursday.

As storms remain possible Wednesday night into early Thursday, it is crucial to have a severe weather plan and be ready to put it into place if conditions warrant. Since storms are likely to occur while many are sleeping, it is also advisable to have multiple ways to receive severe weather alerts. As a reminder, a "watch" means that conditions are favorable for the development of severe weather and a "warning" means severe weather is occurring.