Severe thunderstorms, fed by warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, are expected to pound Texas Saturday and begin pushing eastward, setting up the likelihood of damaging hail, winds and tornadoes for a large part of the Southeast by Easter.
The storm system is then expected to push up the Atlantic coast on Monday.
Forecasters are particularly concerned about the prospect of tornadoes staying on the ground for several minutes in the Deep South.
The most intense zone for Sunday extends from the Texas-Louisiana border into central Alabama, and from southeast Arkansas almost to Mobile, Alabama.
“Given the elevated threat of tornadoes, those in Louisiana, Mississippi, central Tennessee and northern Alabama should be prepared ahead of the weekend to take cover should a tornado approach,” says AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Edwards.
The National Weather Service office in Jackson told residents to brace for the possibility of wind gusts up to 70 mph and tennis ball-sized hail through Sunday evening.
Much of Texas and Louisiana, along with southern parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas, face the threat of severe thunderstorms and hail on Saturday, with gusts reaching 70 mph.
The National Weather Service says a zone around Waco, in central Texas, is particularly vulnerable to severe thunderstorms.
The larger target area stretches from well west of San Antonio, almost to Jackson, Mississippi, and from Dallas to Houston, according to AccuWeather.
“Large hail and damaging wind gusts will be the main threats on Saturday and Saturday night, but isolated tornadoes are also possible,” says Edwards.