WEATHER ALERT: Warren County at risk for supercell thunderstorms late Friday

Published 11:20 am Friday, March 24, 2023

The worst of the storm system originally projected to hit Warren County on Friday night has moved north to Arkansas, but forecasters say there is still a moderate risk of severe weather for the area.

Supercell thunderstorms, National Weather Service forecaster Lance Perrilloux said, occur when a storm system begins to dissolve. Supercell thunderstoms can produce tornadoes, as well as other modes of severe weather.

“Right now, things are gearing up for our area to be on the back end of this front,” Perrilloux said. “Projections are moving further north, but still the (Warren County) area could see small isolated storms that have the potential to spin up, with damaging winds, hail potential and possible tornadoes.”

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As is typical for this time of year, Perrilloux explained that frequent spring storms take place when warm air from the Gulf of Mexico and cool air from the Rocky Mountains clash at a midpoint — and Central Mississippi lies within that midpoint.

Warren County Emergency Management Agency Director John Elfer said Friday morning that the storms will not have a squall line typical of a severe weather system, but the scattered supercells can still cause damage.

“Residents need to seek appropriate shelter and have more than one way to receive alerts: radio, online, television, their phones,” Elfer said. “Staying alert and staying safe is the most important thing.”

Perrilloux said the key to navigating this system is timing. If the storm system passes through earlier in the day, warm air could spawn more dangerous weather. If it passes through later than forecast, the cooler air will lessen the risk of severe weather.

“Right now the main thing is the timing of the storm. That will be one of the main fuelers,” he said. “As the temperatures drop in the evenings, the potential for (storms) drops off a bit.

“It’s a huge timing event. if the storms hit early, more heat from the sun could give us more storms,” he added.

Severe weather is also forecast for Sunday, but in Warren County, the National Weather Service lists the risk as marginal.