Over the past two days, a potent but slow moving storm system moved across the Southeastern U.S., unleashing severe thunderstorms and tornadoes; as of this morning, the storms killed 18 people in Mississippi and Georgia.
The central low moved eastward through the region, producing strong southerly surface winds that destabilized the atmosphere with warm, moist air; in concert, the subtropical jet stream energized the system and, knifing in from the southwest, clashed with the southerly surface winds to create spin in the lower atmosphere, igniting supercells and tornadoes. As the central low reached northeastern Alabama last evening, its trailing cold front swept through northern and central Florida, producing tornadic thunderstorms across the peninsula.
Typically striking the Gulf Coast States in late February and March, this January tornado outbreak may be yet another sign that our warming climate is changing weather patterns across the globe. Meanwhile, the current system is expected to move up the Eastern Seaboard, bringing heavy rain, strong winds and high waves along the coast, from the Mid Atlantic to New England.