Damaging storms to rip through southeastern U.S. into Thursday night

Forecasters are putting a corridor from the Carolinas to Florida on alert for severe thunderstorms that may spawn tornadoes into Thursday night.

Thunderstorms with a history of producing damage and tornadoes in Mississippi and Alabama on Wednesday night will charge eastward throughout the day on Thursday into the first half of Thursday night.

The radar was already lit up with severe thunderstorms early Thursday morning across Alabama.

Damaging straight-line winds may become the primary threat from the thunderstorm activity as the storms congeal into an intense squall line, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham said. These winds can reach an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 80 mph, leading to knocked down trees and power lines and power outages.

AccuWeather meteorologists are concerned that tornadoes can spin up at any time along the violent line of storms, with flooding downpours also possible.

The worst of the storms will swing through Atlanta, Macon and Albany, Georgia; Pensacola, Panama City and Tallahassee, Florida; Greenville, South Carolina; and Charlotte, North Carolina, during the day Thursday.

By Thursday night, the severe weather will target the southern Atlantic Seaboard from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to Jacksonville, Florida.

The storms are likely to still pack a punch with downpours and damaging winds by the time they reach Orlando and Tampa, Florida, later Thursday night.

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People across the area at risk for severe weather are encouraged to keep up-to-date with the latest watches and warnings for their location. Seek shelter inside a sturdy building away from windows should severe thunderstorms threaten.

The storms are likely to cause travel headaches for people flying into and out of Atlanta with delays likely throughout Thursday.

Motorists on stretches of interstates 10, 20, 59, 75, 85 and 95 will need to slow down in the heaviest downpours in order to lessen the risk of hydroplaning. Secondary roadways that are flooded should be avoided.

As AccuWeather began warning about late last week, the severe weather ramped up across the South on Wednesday afternoon across Louisiana and Mississippi.

The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center (NWS SPC) has compiled one dozen preliminary tornado reports during Wednesday and Wednesday night, with all of them occurring in Mississippi. Tornadoes will be confirmed and given ratings on the EF Scale as survey crews from the NWS examine damage in the coming days.

One injury was reported in downtown New Orleans after strong winds from a thunderstorm blew over scaffolding. Small hail was also reported across the city at midweek.

During Wednesday night, a confirmed extremely large and dangerous tornado prompted a Particularly Dangerous Situation (PDS) tornado warning for portions of eastern Mississippi, including the city of Meridian.

Emergency managers reported structural damage and debris blocking roadways, including a section of Interstate 59, in Clarke County, Mississippi.

As the storm system exits the Southeast coast by Friday, drier and much colder air will spill across the region, ending the risk for severe weather.

Those left without power or homeless in the wake of the severe weather will face high temperatures in the 40s and 50s F on Friday with lows in the 20s and 30s at night.

It's possible that the back edge of the storm even brings some light snow to parts of Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the southern Appalachians Thursday night into Friday.

Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.

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