Severe weather

The National Weather Service forecast for severe weather as of 4 p.m. Thursday, April 18

Conditions shaping up for severe weather for Friday look favorable for the formation of tornadoes, the National Weather Service said in an afternoon advisory.

Starting in the morning, winds out of the south will start to increase to 15- to 25-mph and continue through overnight. Gusts could exceed 40 mph.

With plenty of warmth and moisture in the air, the area will be will be ripe for thunderstorms that could become severe — especially late Friday.

Any such storms could bring dangerous cloud-to-ground lightning, hail and isolated heavy rain.

Along with the potential for tornadoes, straight line winds are possible. Straight line winds form when cold air rapidly sinks out of a storm and spreads in all directions when it hits the ground. Straight line winds have been recorded as high as 150 mph, making them just as damaging as hurricanes and tornadoes.

With much of the ground already saturated, downed trees and powerlines are a distinct possibility.

Coastal winds will be higher than inland, prompting the weather service to issue gale force warnings and a storm warning for areas of the coast past 20 miles out — where winds will reach tropical storm strength and seas building to nearly 20 feet.

The storm system that will push through the area was just moving into Alabama on the Gulf Coast on Thursday afternoon.

Forecasters at the weather service said they will have a better idea on timing and how strong the system will be when they issue another advisory Friday morning.

Lee Tolliver, 757-222-5844, lee.tolliver@pilotonline.com

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