The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) issued the tornado watch at 5:20 p.m. Thursday, extending until 1 a.m. Friday, covering the counties of Adams, Amite, Claiborne, Copiah, Covington, Forrest, Franklin, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lamar, Lawrence, Lincoln, Marion, Pike, Simpson, Smith, Walthall and Wilkinson.
A warm and moist air mass was beginning to surge to the north across the watch area with a warm front and just ahead of an approaching cold front. This combined with strong shear could result in some strong to severe storms through this evening across the watch area.
"Given the moistening/destabilization of warm front which is coincident with enhanced low-level and deep-layer shear, the potential will exist for supercells capable of damaging winds and a tornado or two," the SPC said.
Storms were organizing across portions of southwest Mississippi, where tornado warnings had already been issued as of the time the tornado watch was issued but no damage had been reported.
The SPC says there is a 40 percent chance of two or more tornadoes within the tornado watch area with a 20 percent chance of a strong tornado of EF-2 strength or higher.
Portions of southern Mississippi is continuing to cleanup from five tornadoes including a powerful EF-4 tornado that struck the Hattiesburg area on Feb. 10, leaving widespread damage and dozens injured.
Everyone is strongly advised to stay updated on the latest weather information and prepared to take action in case your area is threatened.