A growing threat of severe storms has prompted meteorologists to issue a tornado watch until early evening for the Rock Hill area.
Meanwhile, a flash flood watch also remains in effect for the region, which is trying to dry out from several days of heavy rain that flooded several area roads.
So often these environments fail to deliver much in the way of severe weather, but this one looks different.
Trisha Palmer, of the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C., said.
The threat of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes will extend until at least 6 p.m., forecasters said early Wednesday. The watch covers a broad area of the western Carolinas, including Chester, Lancaster and York counties.
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“Thunderstorms now developing east-northeast of the Tennessee Valley will increase in coverage and intensity near and to the east of the southern Appalachians this afternoon,” said Brynn Kerr, a meteorologist with the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla.
Kerr said the storms could bring wind gusts of 70 mph or stronger and a few tornadoes.
“So often these environments fail to deliver much in the way of severe weather, but this one looks different,” Trisha Palmer, of the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C., said.
Palmer said supercell thunderstorms already have developed in northern Georgia. She said the severe weather probably would reach the Rock Hill-Charlotte area by late afternoon. In addition, Palmer said, a pocket of cooler and more stable air that covered the region Monday and Tuesday has retreated northward, leaving the area in a moist, unstable air mass.
The severe weather is being caused by a cold front moving eastward. A separate system triggered several tornadoes Tuesday in coastal Georgia and eastern North Carolina. A twister in North Carolina’s Sampson County caused considerable damage but no serious injuries.
Several rounds of heavy rain have rolled across the Rock Hill area since Sunday. More than 5.7 inches of rain has been reported at the Chester airport, and nearly 3.7 inches has fallen at the airport in Rock Hill.
Heavy rain Sunday night washed out a portion of Connor Road in northwest Chester County, near the Lowrys community. And Stallup Road, south of Rock Hill, was flooded for several hours Tuesday, according to the York County Office of Emergency Management.
Wednesday’s threat is expected to be the last in the current series of severe weather woes, although a few showers and thunderstorms are possible Thursday before clearing and dry weather returns Friday.
The outlook for the Memorial Day weekend calls for sunshine and warmer conditions Friday and Saturday, followed by a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms with warm temperatures Sunday and Monday.