Severe Thunderstorm Threat Lingers in the Southeast on Tuesday

weather.com meteorologists
Published: October 22, 2019

Severe thunderstorms packing damaging wind gusts and an isolated tornado threat could impact parts of the Southeast on Tuesday as a cold front moves across the region.

This storm system is the same one that spawned an EF3 tornado in Dallas on Sunday night. It also brought severe weather to other parts of the South Sunday night into Monday, from Texas and Oklahoma to the lower Mississippi Valley. For more details, see the link below.

(NEWS: Tornado Destroys Homes, Businesses in Dallas


Current Radar, Watches and Warnings

In general, the overall risk of severe weather will be lower on Tuesday when compared to what occurred in the South Sunday night and Monday.

That said, at least a few severe thunderstorms are possible on Tuesday from the Southeast coast to the Virginia Tidewater. Portions of central and eastern North Carolina and far southeast Virginia have the greatest chance of experiencing severe weather.

Damaging wind gusts will be the main threat, but a tornado or two is also possible.


Tuesday's Severe Thunderstorm Forecast

Severe Weather Recap

This round of severe weather began Sunday night and continued through the early morning hours of Monday in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, southern Missouri and western Tennessee.

So far, the NWS has confirmed 17 tornadoes in six states from North Texas to western Tennessee.

These are initial reports of tornadoes, large hail, and high winds or wind damage from thunderstorms. Note: The number of tornadoes is often not known immediately following a severe event. The number of tornado reports, therefore, doesn't necessarily correlate to the number of actual tornadoes, which are later confirmed by NWS storm surveys.
(Data: NOAA/NWS/SPC)

The strongest tornado, an EF3, tore an almost 16-mile-long path in just over 30 minutes through the north side of Dallas County, Texas, on the night of October 20.

According to meteorologist William Churchill of the National Weather Service in Key West, Florida, radar 150 miles west of Dallas detected lofted debris from the Dallas County tornado up to 20,000 feet above the ground, usually an indication of a strong or violent tornado. According to the NWS damage survey, the tornado was estimated to be up to three-quarters of a mile wide.

This was the strongest tornado in Dallas County since a deadly EF4 tornado on Dec. 26, 2015 tore through Sunnyvale, Garland and Rowlett.

Two other tornadoes struck the suburbs just northeast of Dallas: an EF2 tornado in Garland and an EF1 tornado in Rowlett.

Several tornado warnings were issued as the squall line roared through the Memphis metro area around 6:30 a.m. CDT Monday. One strong rotation on radar passed near Memphis International Airport, prompting airport officials to evacuate planes and direct those in the airport to tornado shelter. Some windows were blown out in the airport's terminal. A peak wind gust of 53 mph was clocked at the airport.

Power was knocked out to at least 35,000 customers in western Tennessee due to the storm. The area of strong rotation later passed over the suburb of Germantown, downing a tree onto a home and downing other trees and power lines.

After surveying the area Monday, the NWS found evidence of EF1 tornado damage around the Cottonwood Apartment area in Memphis.

Just before 6 a.m. CDT Monday, a tornado tore through Tyronza, Arkansas, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Memphis, destroying or damaging several homes and businesses, downing numerous trees and blowing over a semi, according to KAIT-TV. The NWS office in Memphis assigned a preliminary EF1 rating to this tornado.

A pair of EF1 and another EF0 tornado were confirmed in southwest Missouri, and a pair of EF1 tornadoes were confirmed in eastern Oklahoma.

According to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center (SPC), there were just over 230 preliminary reports of severe weather on October 20-21, primarily in North Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and southern Missouri. It was the most active 24-hour period of severe weather in the U.S. since Aug. 20, according to SPC data.

Second Severe Season Is Arriving

While severe thunderstorms can occur any time of year in which favorable conditions occur, a secondary peak in tornado activity occurs generally in the South in fall, at times spreading northward to the Ohio Valley.

This second peak in severe weather occurs because the jet stream begins to migrate southward for the winter months, overlapping air that is still warm and humid.

Late-season tropical cyclones can also boost tornado activity along the Gulf Coast.

Tornado threat by month.

Severe weather in late October typically occurs around the Ark-La-Tex region and generally slides southward and eastward heading into November.

In November and December, the highest risk of tornadoes moves back to the South, along with the warmest air and much of the moisture.

The peak of what is often referred to as Dixie Alley season usually occurs in late November or early December. However, periods of severe weather, including tornadoes, can erupt across the South throughout the winter.

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.


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.