It's been a long stretch of sweltering heat for people across the South for the second half of June. Relief is on the way for many, but not until after a nasty round of severe thunderstorms.
Temperatures have risen well into the 90s and even 100s across the south-central and southeastern U.S. today, and each day for more than a week. As if the heat alone isn't enough, high humidity has combined with it to send AccuWeather RealFeel® temperatures soaring even higher. The heat has posed health risks and has even been blamed for several deaths.
Some relief is finally on the way for many Southerners as a cold front will plunge southward into the region through Monday. However, it won't come without a price, as the front continues setting off severe storms in advance of the cooler air.
These storms are targeting areas in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and northern Florida this evening. The storms will spread farther south and east through the Gulf Coast states and the Carolinas tonight.
Damaging winds past 60 mph will be the biggest threat with the storms. Winds this strong can down trees and cut power to communities. Hail as large as quarters and flash flooding are also possible. Isolated tornadoes cannot be entirely ruled out.
Cities like Huntsville, Ala., Birmingham, Ala., and even Atlanta, Ga., will be at risk through early tonight. The most damaging storms will die down overnight, but some isolated strong storms could stretch all the way from the Carolinas through northern Texas.
By Monday, the front will be stalling across areas from central Texas to southern Georgia. To the north of the front, temperatures will be cut back by 5 to 10 degrees, while humidity becomes noticeably lower. Isolated strong storms will continue developing along the front, helping to shave highs a few degrees in areas along the Gulf Coast.
AccuWeather meteorologists are also still monitoring a tropical wave emerging from the Yucatan Peninsula into the southern Gulf of Mexico. There is some potential for this to develop into the first named tropical storm of the 2009 Atlantic Hurricane Season over the next few days. Residents and business interests along the Gulf Coast should keep checking in with the Hurricane Center.