Flash-flood watch issued for all of South Mississippi

Strong storms could spawn tornadoes as they dump heavy rain on Mississippi and several states across the South through Friday, forecasters predict.

Almost the entire state is at an enhanced risk Thursday, putting it in the bull's-eye for some of the strongest storms, the national Storm Prediction Center reported.

Coastal Mississippi has less risk of severe weather, but the risk extends through Friday.

The National Weather Service in Slidell said the greatest storm threats will be isolated tornadoes, heavy rainfall, gusts up to 40-50 mph, pea- to marble-sized hail and frequent lightning. Southwest Mississippi has the area's greatest risk of tornadoes.

A flash-flood watch also has been issued through Friday evening for all of South Mississippi. Up to 2 inches of rain could fall in an hour, causing flash flooding, especially in urban areas.

In northern Mississippi, forecasters said thunderstorms would bring 2 to 4 inches of rain.

Rains should start heading in from Louisiana early Thursday, but the bulk of the heavy rain is expected on the Coast starting Thursday afternoon into Friday night.

A round of strong, possibly severe thunderstorms is expected Thursday afternoon and evening, with a second round predicted again Friday afternoon into the evening.

Rain chances were predicted Wednesday afternoon as 70 percent Thursday, 80 percent Thursday night and 70 percent Friday, falling to 40 percent Friday night. Saturday morning should be partly cloudy, clearing in the afternoon through Sunday.

There is a small-craft advisory in effect until 5 p.m. Thursday, with 3- to 5-foot waves possible in the Mississippi Sound. Another advisory could be issued Friday into Saturday as a cold front moves through.

The cold front also is predicted to drop Saturday night's lows to just below 50 with highs about 70. Sunday should be slightly warmer with lows in the 50s.

Associated Press, contributed to this report.