AccuWeather meteorologists say the risk of severe weather will be on the rise later this week, and storms could target some of the same areas hit by tornadoes earlier this spring.
During the first five days of April, two severe weather outbreaks produced more than two dozen tornadoes and in excess of 450 damaging wind and hail reports in the country’s midsection, according to preliminary reports from the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center.
Following the rather explosive start to the month, the opportunities for severe weather have lessened in recent days. Instead, dry weather has settled into the Plains, creating an opportunity for abnormal warmth to develop
Now, AccuWeather meteorologists say the brief lull in the severe weather is coming to an end, and they are warning that the atmospheric conditions could generate another round of severe thunderstorms by the end of the week.
A storm forecast to emerge from the Rockies Thursday night and Friday will move into an area of the central United States where warm air and gusty winds will be prevalent. The storm will also pull cooler air down from Canada, providing an extreme clash of air masses to aid in the development of the severe weather.
Rain and thunderstorms may first unfold across Nebraska and the Dakotas before spreading into Minnesota and Iowa, affecting many of the same areas at risk of flooding due to rapidly melting snow this week.
Meteorologists have highlighted a portion of the country south of those areas where thunderstorms are more likely to turn severe later this week.
“Compared to the widespread severe weather outbreaks that have already hit this area, this time AccuWeather meteorologists expect severe weather to be less widespread,” explained AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Tyler Roys.
More robust storms could develop around cities such as Austin, and Dallas, Texas; Omaha, Nebraska; and Kansas City, Missouri. Thunderstorms that do turn severe are likely to contain heavy downpours, as well as hail and damaging wind gusts of 50-60 mph.
Motorists should take particular caution, as the combination of heavy rainfall and gusty winds could create reduced visibility, especially when traveling at higher speeds. Portions of interstates 20, 35, 44 and 70 could all be impacted.
The rainfall is of particular interest for some in the Plains given the evolving drought in parts of the region. According to the U.S. Drought monitor, 52% of the state of Kansas and 38% of the state of Oklahoma are currently in an extreme or exceptional drought.
“Unfortunately, many of the storms on Friday and Friday night are likely to develop just east of most drought-stricken areas in the Plains, offering little in the way of improvement,” Roys said.
Some areas that could see a helpful bump in rainfall are parts of central and southern Kansas into Oklahoma. However, most rainfall reports are likely to remain well below half an inch.
As this storm pushes eastward through the weekend, the risk of severe thunderstorms is expected to continue.
“On Saturday, the same storm is expected to shift into the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys and produce more severe weather,” Roys said.
Once again, the main severe weather threats are expected to be damaging wind gusts and hail, but heavier downpours could also lead to flooding, especially in low-lying and poor drainage areas.
These feisty storms are more likely to erupt later in the day, and could disrupt planned outdoor events from Wisconsin and Michigan to eastern Arkansas and northern Missouri. Residents in cities like Chicago, St. Louis and Nashville should all keep an eye to the sky for the first half of the weekend.
As the storm continues to march eastward, wet weather is expected to sweep through the Northeast, bringing an end to the extended dry and warm stretch for the region.
Produced in association with AccuWeather