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Storm system likely to bring rain, wind

The lion-like weather of early March will hit the area this afternoon with rain and potentially strong winds expected.

Rain showers and thunderstorms were expected to move into the Carolina Piedmont from the west around 1 p.m. today from the west, according to the National Weather Service. Forecasters predict winds will range between 15 and 18 mph, with gusts in some places up to 28 mph.

Similar storms are possible into the evening and overnight, with total rainfall amounts of more than one inch possible.

The strong weather is being caused by a cold front moving south colliding with a rain-making system moving out of the Gulf of Mexico, according to AccuWeather meteorologists.

York County Emergency Management director Cotton Howell said local authorities expect mainly rain but will watch for small, tornado-like windbursts if conditions worsen.

"Even thunderstorms can be serious. There is always that chance of a downburst that can be almost as dangerous as a tornado," Howell said. "Right now, we're just monitoring the situation."

The bad weather moved state officials to cancel all tornado siren testing scheduled today, Howell said, meaning any sirens heard today will be the real deal, not a drill.

"That's a precaution we take any time there's severe weather in the forecast," Howell said.

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