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Winter severe storm threat for truckers in South

Tornadoes possible from Texas to Tennessee

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Late-winter severe storms could spread across the South the next two days as a strong cold front approaches the region.

The front will drench parts of the Plains and Midwest before the rain changes to snow, sleet and freezing rain in those regions. The atmosphere over the South will remain unstable, moist and unseasonably warm at ground level. However, aloft the atmosphere will be very cold. This is a good setup for severe weather.

Truckers are likely to hit scattered areas of gusty straight-line winds (60-plus mph), hail and tornadoes late Wednesday from northern Texas to northwestern Arkansas, including Dallas, Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

By Thursday, the threat will shift eastward and expand across a large part of the Southeast. The best odds for severe weather — the same risks described for Wednesday — will spread across almost all of Arkansas, northern Louisiana, southern parts of Missouri and Illinois, much of Tennessee and Alabama, northwestern Georgia, as well as most of Mississippi.

Thursday’s storms could be more intense than Wednesday’s. Also, a few tornadoes could stay on the ground for long periods of time, even though the overall number of tornadoes may not be large.

The threat for severe weather Thursday will be lower from western sections of the Carolinas to the Florida Panhandle, including Atlanta, but isolated severe storms could pop in these areas. However, this lower risk shouldn’t be taken lightly. It only takes one severe storm to potentially ruin a trucker’s day or put his or her life in danger.


The best line of defense on the road is for drivers to make sure the weather apps on their mobile devices are set to “location” or “GPS” mode. This will ensure that they receive local severe alerts no matter where they are on their routes.

Major lanes of concern

• Interstate 20 from Dallas to Atlanta.
• Interstate 35 from Dallas to Wichita, Kansas.
• Interstate 40 from Oklahoma City to Nashville, Tennessee.
• Interstate 55 from New Orleans to St. Louis.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.
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