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Tornado threat in Virginia: Hour-by-hour forecast

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RICHMOND, Va. -- A warm front is lifting northward through Virginia, allowing unseasonably warm air to move in from the south with winds gusting over 25 mph.  Highs will reach the upper 60s and lower 70s, even with a lot of cloud cover.  The atmosphere will be extremely unstable with strong wind speeds and wind shear above the surface.

Timing for the severe storms will be late afternoon into early evening as a cold front approaches from the west.  Not all storms will be severe, but storms that do become severe will produce damaging wind gusts, possibly in excess of 70 mph.  With the saturated ground, these winds will be strong enough to bring down some trees.

Due to the shear present in the atmosphere, the risk of tornadoes will last into the evening.  The Storm Prediction Center has put much of central Virginia into a moderate risk for severe storms with a 15% chance for tornadoes.  Usually, even in the summer, our tornado threat is typically 2% or 5%.  This 15% threat is the highest we've seen since April of 2011.

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Probability of damaging wind gusts over 60 mph:

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Probability of a tornado occurring:

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Any tornado that forms into this evening will have the chance of producing wind speeds over 110 mph, making the tornadoes EF-2 rated or higher.  This does include any tornado that forms in part of the 10% area shown above.

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Here is a review of tornado safety tips:

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The threat of severe weather will decrease this evening, with calmer conditions overnight.  However, wind gusts over 20 mph will still occur.

CBS 6 Storm Team links: