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Everything you need to know about Wednesday and Thursday

Updated: Jun 25, 2021

The bottom line

-Active weather period Wednesday and Thursday brings risk of heavy downpours and severe storms

-Three distinct rounds of showers and storms expected, with the highest severe threat early Thursday morning to midday Thursday across North Georgia

-Exact duration and locations of the severe weather and tornado threat remains uncertain, but the most important message is to PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE—it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

A powerful upper level low pressure system tracking across the Southwestern United States into the Great Plains—and the surge of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico out ahead of it— is poised to deliver multiple rounds of heavy downpours and thunderstorms to North Georgia Wednesday and Thursday. With these storms, we are closely monitoring the potential for severe weather, including damaging winds, hail, and even a few tornadoes in the strongest storms.

Due to this potential, the Storm Prediction Center, the National Weather Service’s storm forecasting office based in Norman, Oklahoma, has hoisted an ENHANCED RISK for severe storms in far West Georgia. A SLIGHT RISK for severe storms is issued around, West, and South of Atlanta for Wednesday and Wednesday night, including far Northwest Georgia. The remainder of the region is outlined in a MARGINAL RISK.

As a strong line of severe storms moves into the area early Thursday, the severe risk expands East and increases across the coverage area, with an ENHANCED RISK along a line from Atlanta to Gainesville and Southeast, including Athens, and a SLIGHT RISK for much of the remainder of the region.

SPC Severe Outlook Thursday, March 18
SPC Severe Outlook Thursday, March 18 (maxvorticity.com, NOAA/SPC)

The first round of rain and storms is expected Wednesday morning across North Georgia, generally along a line from Athens to Atlanta and North. While the risk for severe weather is low due to cooler air in place, isolated flash flooding and gusty winds will be possible.

Simulation of what the radar may look like from 7 AM to 3 PM Wednesday.
Simulation of what the radar may look like from 7 AM to 3 PM Wednesday. (Pivotal Weather)

Later in the afternoon, scattered showers and storms are likely to bubble in Alabama and cross the state line into Georgia from Southwest to Northeast (arriving in LaGrange and Carrollton and moving Northeast). Additional heavy downpours and gusty winds are possible with any storms that develop. Severe weather including damaging wind gusts, hail, and isolated tornadoes is also possible, especially South of I-20.

Simulation of what radar may look like from 4 PM Wednesday to 1 AM Thursday
Simulation of what radar may look like from 4 PM Wednesday to 1 AM Thursday (Pivotal Weather)

This is due to a sharp divide in temperatures across the area, with temperatures in the 50s and low 60s North of I-20 and the 60s and 70s South of I-20. Right along and South of this boundary of warm air is where the greatest risk of severe weather will lie. In other words, the warmer your temperature is tomorrow afternoon, the higher your risk is of severe weather.

Finally, late Wednesday overnight into early Thursday morning, an even greater risk of severe storms will unfold across the entire coverage area along and ahead of a powerful cold front.

Our forecast for severe weather impacts and timing Thursday.
Our forecast for severe weather impacts and timing Thursday.

We want to draw your attention to the timing of these storms: it is very likely that the strongest line of storms will cross the slight risk area early Thursday morning during the dark, when many of us will be asleep. IT IS ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL THAT YOU HAVE A WAY TO RECEIVE SEVERE ALERTS THAT ARE LOUD ENOUGH TO WAKE YOU UP such as a NOAA Weather Radio or phone. Do NOT rely on tornado sirens to wake you up!

This timing also means heavy rain and severe weather is a good possibility during the Thursday morning rush hour. Please be prepared for potential travel disruptions from downed trees and localized flash flooding Thursday morning into Thursday midday. See the end of our most recent post to learn what you should do if a Tornado Warning is issued and you are in your car.

Tornado safety tips.
Tornado safety tips. (NWS)

Regardless of the specific risk for your county, we cannot stress enough the importance of EVERYONE being prepared for potential severe weather and tornadoes Wednesday and Thursday, especially early Thursday morning. Severe storms and tornadoes can occur even in areas where the risk is marginal. Even if severe storms do not impact your town, the saying “better safe than sorry” will be an important one to live by the next couple days.

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