CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- As Tropical Storm Nicole makes its way across southwest Georgia into the Carolinas on Thursday, it is expected to bring heavy rains, gusty winds, and significant coastal flooding.

But, Nicole also brings another threat to the Lowcountry: isolated tornadoes.

According to the National Weather Service, most of the tropical tornadoes that affect central South Carolina are from tropical systems that come from the Gulf of Mexico and track north or northeast.

“Those are notorious tornado producers for southeast Georgia and the eastern part of the Carolinas,” Storm Team 2 meteorologist Josh Marthers explained.

When a tropical storm makes landfall, winds near the ground slow down, while upper-level winds keep their momentum. This produces what is called “wind shear” which is a change in wind direction and speed with height.

Warmer and more humid conditions are typically more favorable for producing a tornado, which Marthers said explains why the Lowcountry is more at risk during Nicole than during Ian.

“That juicy air mass interacts with that twisting of wind with height and you see thunderstorms that develop,” he said about Nicole. “Those will begin to move onshore late afternoon, especially overnight and into the morning tomorrow, and they’ll be coming into an environment that is going to be very warm, very humid, with a ton of wind energy overhead.”

Storm Team 2 predicts that the greatest threat of tornadoes will occur overnight Thursday into Friday morning between about 12:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., although either side of those hours cannot be entirely ruled out.

“This is going to be interacting with a strong cold front, so you’re actually getting two players in severe weather that are teaming up together to create this situation and that is why we have that higher-than-normal risk of severe storms overnight tonight and into tomorrow,” Marthers said.

Tornadoes within tropical systems also pose a significant danger because although they tend to be weaker and short-lived–between 30 seconds and 2 minutes–they form much quicker than average tornadoes.

As of Thursday morning, no tornado watches or warnings have been issued for Lowcountry counties, but residents should be prepared as these types of tornadoes may touch down with little to no warning.

Emergency officials and Marthers encourage people to have multiple methods of getting alerts in case a tornado produces overnight, including your cell phone or NOAA weather radio. To ensure weather warnings pop up on your cellphone while you are asleep, go to system settings and turn emergency alerts on.

As always, you can count on Storm Team 2 to provide the latest on weather emergencies, so be sure to download the Storm Team 2 app.

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