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Storms could bring damaging winds, tornado risk to Palmetto State Wednesday

Strong storms possible Wednesday
Meteorologist Justin Ballard
South Carolina Emergency Information Network
Storms Wednesday could bring damaging winds and an isolated tornado the portions of the Palmetto State.

A line of strong thunderstorms could bring damaging winds and an isolated tornado risk to the state Wednesday.

Surface analysis Wednesday morning shows a line of strong thunderstorms working through the Lower Mississippi River Valley, with a Tornado Watch in effect for portions of the Gulf Coast. As the morning progresses, a lifting warm front is forecast to bring warm and unstable air across the Lowcountry and Midlands. An approaching cold front will provide extra energy in the atmosphere and help maintain the risk of strong and severe storms.

High-resolution weather models indicate the potential for a few isolated storms as the warm front lifts north during the pre-dawn hours Wednesday, but the main risk for severe weather arrives shortly after sunrise. The main line of strong storms associated with the approaching cold front will enter the Palmetto State by mid-morning Wednesday. Storms will push east just before noon, with a broken line of strong storms possible along the I-77 corridor from Rock Hill to Columbia. The cold front will push storms toward the coast by the late afternoon hours Wednesday. Model guidance is in agreement that storms should diminish in coverage and intensity by midnight Thursday.

The Storm Prediction Center has a "slight" risk for severe weather across the Midlands, Lowcountry, and Pee Dee. This classification represents a 2 on a severe weather scale of 1-to-5 and means that a few widely scattered severe thunderstorms are possible. The atmosphere will support the risk of damaging winds of up to 60 miles per hour. The upper-level wind pattern does also suggest a few tornadoes are also going to be a possibility through Wednesday evening.

There is the potential for watches and warnings to be issued through Wednesday. If a watch is issued, it means that the ingredients for severe weather or tornadoes are present in the atmosphere. Watches are typically issued before the weather turns severe and tend to cover a fairly large geographic area for several hours. A warning on the other hand is issued when severe weather is ongoing for a specific location and is typically on a smaller geographic scale, typically covering only a few counties at a time. Warnings generally last an hour or less in any given location. Residents are encouraged to have multiple ways to receive severe weather alerts and to keep a close eye on the forecast over the next 24 hours.