Tornado Watches issued as severe storms target central US with overnight threats into Thursday

The FOX Forecast Center says the system that sparked storms on Tuesday has shifted to the east, and that will bring severe thunderstorms to America’s Heartland from the central Plains to the mid-Mississippi Valley.

It’s been a turbulent week of severe weather for millions of people across the eastern half of the country, and there’s a renewed threat brewing in the central U.S. that will have people on alert Wednesday into Thursday.

The FOX Forecast Center says the system that sparked storms on Tuesday has shifted to the east, and that will bring severe thunderstorms to America’s Heartland from the central Plains to the mid-Mississippi Valley.


Tornado, Severe Thunderstorm Watches issued 

A three-hour radar loop showing where showers and thunderstorms are ongoing. Severe Thunderstorm Warnings are indicated in yellow. Tornado Warnings are indicated in red, while Tornado Warnings with a confirmed tornado are indicated in purple. Flash Flood Warnings are indicated in green, while Flash Flood Emergencies are indicated in pink.
(FOX Weather)


Tornado Watches were issued for parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas through the late evening.

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch was also issued for nearly 2 million people in parts of Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee on Wednesday afternoon.

A map showing Severe Thunderstorm Watches in effect on Wednesday, August 9, 2023.
(FOX Weather)


The Severe Thunderstorm Watch will remain in effect until 8 p.m. CDT for cities such as Savannah, Lawrenceburg, Columbia, Manchester and Winchester in Tennessee, and in Florence, Huntsville, Russellville, Cullman and Albertville in Alabama.

Severe weather threatens central U.S. on Wednesday

The severe weather threat on Wednesday, August 9, 2023.
(FOX Weather)


Severe thunderstorms are possible from parts of eastern Kansas and Oklahoma in the central Plains to the mid-Mississippi Valley and Southeast on Wednesday. And the SPC has placed areas of the mid-Mississippi and Tennessee valleys in a level 3 out of 5 on its thunderstorm risk scale.

Cities in this heightened risk area include Memphis, Nashville, Clarksville and Murfreesboro in Tennessee and Springfield in Missouri.

Cities under a level 2 out of 5 risk include Tulsa in Oklahoma, St. Louis, and Birmingham and Huntsville in Alabama and Little Rock, Arkansas.

Millions of people will be at risk of seeing large hail and damaging wind gusts from any of the severe thunderstorms that develop on Wednesday, with areas of the mid-Mississippi and Tennessee valleys seeing a higher risk.

In addition, there is a tornado threat on Wednesday, and there are concerns that the threat will extend into late Wednesday night and into the overnight hours into Thursday morning.


Overnight tornadoes possible 

"We have a risk of tornadoes (Wednesday), and the scary thing about our risk today is that it’s going to last after we go to bed," FOX Weather meteorologist Britta Merwin said.

Any time a tornado touches down, there is a risk of death and destruction, but tornadoes that strike communities during the overnight hours are far more likely to turn deadly.

The risk of tornadoes on Wednesday into Thursday morning stretches from eastern Oklahoma to the Tennessee Valley.

"So, the farther you live east in the whole zone, you have a higher potential of an overnight tornado," Merwin continued. "Tennessee, north Alabama, I’m talking to you guys."

People living and working in the tornado threat area should ensure there are ways to receive severe weather alerts, like downloading the free FOX Weather app, and responding quickly to any severe weather warnings should they be issued.

The lowest spot in your home is the safest place, but an interior room like a bathroom or closet can also help protect you should a tornado move through.

"You want to limit the possibility of something hitting your body," Merwin said. "So, get into a really small spot if you can, you know, decrease the size of the spot around your head. That’s going to prevent anything that could be hitting your body."

2 killed during severe weather outbreak

Cleanup efforts continue across the eastern half of the country after a deadly severe weather outbreak on Monday. A 15-year-old boy was killed in South Carolina when a tree was uprooted and fell onto a garage he was standing in during the height of the storms. And a 28-year-old man was struck by lightning and killed in Alabama.

The severe weather threat also extended into Tuesday, with at least two tornadoes touching down in Massachusetts.

The National Weather Service office in Boston confirmed the tornadoes briefly touched in the town of Mattapoisett and Barnstable.

Flooding was reported in communities north and west of Boston, as more than six inches of rainfall occurred in only a few hours.

The highest rainfall tally was reported in Lawrence, and water rescues were witnessed in Cambridge and North Andover. First responders said a senior housing center with approximately 150 residents had to be evacuated due to high water in Essex County.