A clash of air masses will spark gusty thunderstorms – and potentially a few tornadoes – across more than a dozen states in the Plains and Midwest into this weekend, AccuWeather forecasters say.
Destructive wind gusts, large hail and flooding downpours will be the biggest concerns from the storms as they erupt. In the Plains, it will mark the final day in a stretch of damaging storms before activity shifts to the Midwest, where the weather has been relatively quiet as of late.
The threat of severe weather will move into the Ohio Valley and East Coast come Sunday and Monday, as differing air masses replace the storms farther west – intense heat in parts of the Plains and unseasonably cool air in parts of the Midwest.
A pair of storm systems roaming the Plains will be the focus for severe storm activity into Friday night before a quieter weather pattern takes hold, according to AccuWeather meteorologists.
The area of greatest concern will extend from the Front Range of the Rockies into central and northern portions of the Plains, from southeastern Montana to western Iowa. This area has been no stranger to severe weather as of late, with a tornado and flash flooding observed on Thursday in parts of Wyoming and Nebraska.
The storms on Friday will avoid the Denver area, where some residents are cleaning up debris and property damage left behind by a tornado-warned thunderstorm on Thursday. The storm damaged structures, downed trees and produced large hail.
AccuWeather is forecasting a moderate risk of severe weather across most of the High Plains, which also includes the chance for another tornado or two. Thunderstorms could also generate wind gusts as high as 90 mph, which is the AccuWeather Local StormMax™ for the area.
Farther south, a smaller but still noteworthy area of thunderstorms is expected to form into Friday night, also in an area where storms have been commonplace as of late. Hail up to the size of baseballs along with damaging wind gusts, were reported from eastern New Mexico into Texas and Oklahoma on Thursday.
Large hail and damaging wind gusts will continue to be the primary concern in just about the same area that saw feisty storms on Thursday, including the metropolitan areas of Oklahoma City and Amarillo, Dallas and Lubbock, Texas.
A much-deserved break from severe weather will then occur over the weekend amid a change in the weather pattern. However, one hazard will be replaced by another across the southern and central Plains, where the mercury will soar into triple-digit territory in many areas into next week, a first this season in many cities.
Large population centers in the Midwest will be threatened by storms Saturday and Saturday night, as the northern storm moves into the region to start the weekend, AccuWeather experts say.
“As the storm interacts with a warm and humid air mass in place across the region, strong to severe storms will erupt Saturday afternoon and evening from the Upper Midwest into the northern half of Missouri,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski.
Similar to Friday in locations farther west, a moderate risk of severe storms is currently forecast from southeastern South Dakota and southwestern Minnesota south through parts of eastern Nebraska, Iowa and northern Missouri. The main concerns will be hail and damaging winds, but a tornado or two can’t be ruled out.
Since it is the first weekend of summer, many people will be outdoors. Those planning outside activities will need to keep a constant eye on the sky as thunderstorms can develop and move through quickly, forecasters say. This includes those attending and playing in the start of the College World Series finals in Omaha on Saturday evening.
Pydynowski expects thunderstorms to exit the Omaha area prior to Saturday evening’s baseball game, but warmups and other activities prior to the game could be impacted. “If fans are out and about earlier in the day, they should remain weather-aware and be prepared to quickly move indoors,” he said.
Other cities that could experience severe weather into Saturday night include Des Moines, Kansas City, Minneapolis and St. Louis, and travel conditions could be poor for a time along portions of interstates 29, 35, 70, 80 and 90.
While the rain will come fast and furious in most storms and could lead to flash flooding, it won’t all be bad news. Large portions of the central Plains and Midwest are currently enduring severe to exceptional drought conditions, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor report released on Thursday.
The heavy rain will not be the cure-all for the dry conditions, but it will provide a momentary reprieve from it, especially for those with agricultural interests.
Like in the Plains, a quieter weather pattern will temporarily take hold following the severe storms. Drier air moving in from the west will mean a return to drier conditions from Sunday into the first half of the week across the Midwest, but a dip in the jet stream will also bring an unseasonably cool air mass to parts of the region during this time frame.
Another clash of air masses will take shape by the middle of next week, resulting in a corridor of thunderstorms from Tuesday to Thursday across a portion of the northern Plains and Midwest between the heat dome to the south and the cooler air to the east.
While it is too early to pinpoint when and where storms could turn severe next week in the nation’s midsection, AccuWeather meteorologists say the thunderstorms will likely move over some areas continuously, resulting in a potential for flash flooding but also some more drought-reliving downpours.
Produced in association with AccuWeather