Potential of severe thunderstorms, tornadoes for Savannah; closings set

A strong weather system will move into the Deep South this morning, with severe weather starting in Alabama, Georgia, and SC by midday.

The system is tapping into surging warm and moist air from the Gulf to create another round of wicked weather conditions in the Southeast, including for some here in the north Florida / southern Georgia region.

"These storms have the possibility of producing golf ball to billiard ball size hail, damaging winds in excess of 60 miles per hour and tornados".

A third round will develop this evening through 9 p.m.

In Georgia, at least one massive tornado - estimated to be up to one mile wide - has already touched down, causing damage in Sumter County according to the local National Weather Service office.

More than 30 counties in Alabama are closing schools and colleges or planning for early dismissals as severe storms begin their march across the Southeast.

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The Pee Dee "could see another round of severe weather with the frontal passage Thursday morning as well", according to the bulletin.

A flash flood watch is in effect from 8 a.m. until late Wednesday night.

Pasquotank-Camden Emergency Management Coordinator wrote in an email that the most severe weather is expected between 3 a.m. and 10 a.m. Thursday.

There could be scattered to widespread severe thunderstorms producing large hail, damaging wind gusts, and possibly a few tornadoes. Several different rounds of severe storms are likely from the late afternoon and evening through daybreak Thursday. "These wind shears allow whole storms to spin, making it easier for tornadoes to form".

Emlaw says the tornado threat is due to an abundance of wind shears, which set the stage for unsafe storms. "If we go into a tornado watch, the shelters will immediately open across the county".

"You need to be monitoring the weather throughout the day", says News19 Chief Meteorologist Jim Gandy.

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