On the heels of the deadly severe weather that struck the Deep South during the middle of last week, more lives and property can be threatened from the lower Mississippi Valley to the Ohio Valley early this week.
The stage is set for a long-tracked line of severe thunderstorms to cross the roughly 800-mile swath from northern Louisiana and Arkansas to Ohio Monday afternoon through Monday night, according to AccuWeather Storm Warning Meteorologist Richard Schraeger.
"The strongest thunderstorms will have the potential to cause widespread wind damage, short-lived tornadoes, hail and heavy downpours," he said.
Severe thunderstorms may first ignite in and around Arkansas on Monday afternoon, threatening the cities of Little Rock and Jonesboro, Arkansas; Memphis, Tennessee; and Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
The severe weather may ramp up on Monday night as the line of violent thunderstorms crosses the Tennessee and Ohio valleys.
While an isolated tornado cannot be ruled out elsewhere in the threat zone, concern is highest for tornadoes across eastern Arkansas, northern Mississippi, western Kentucky, western and central Tennessee and northwestern Alabama.
Tornadoes targeting communities at night are especially dangerous as they can be hard to see and occur at a time when many people are sleeping.
Residents in Greenville and Tupelo, Mississippi; Florence, Alabama; Memphis, Clarksville and Nashville, Tennessee; and Paducah, Kentucky, are urged to make sure cellphone notifications and weather radios are turned on before heading to bed.
Be sure to download the free AccuWeather app to receive life-saving weather notifications.
Late tonight, the line of thunderstorms with strong winds and downpours is expected to push toward the spine of the Appalachians. The thunderstorms can rattle Columbus, Ohio; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Huntsville, Ala., at this time.
In addition to the tornado threat, the violent thunderstorm winds can leave a trail of tree damage and power outages. Where outages persist into Election Day, polling stations in buildings without generators could be affected.
Where the ground has been saturated by recent rain, trees may be more susceptible to being brought down by the strong winds.
The heaviest rain can trigger flash flooding in low-lying and poor drainage areas, as well as bring streams and smaller rivers out of their banks.
Even in the absence of flooding, motorists planning to travel on stretches of interstates 24, 40, 55, 64, 65 and 75 are urged to use caution on Monday afternoon and night.
Remember that a vehicle is never a safe place to be when in the path of a tornado.
The same strengthening storm set to ignite the severe weather will also unleash soaking rain and strong winds farther north across the Midwest early this week.
Drier weather will sweep over most areas being threatened by the severe weather for Election Day. The storm will then focus its gusty showers and thunderstorms on the Northeast as voters head to the polls.
"Farther south, there remains an isolated threat for locally severe thunderstorms to impact portions of the Carolinas on Tuesday, but the threat is not as great as Monday night," according to Schraeger.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Kristina Pydynowski is an AccuWeather senior meteorologist.