Skip to content

Severe Thunderstorms Threaten Central US, Bringing Flash Flooding And Damaging Winds

AccuWeather warns of multiple rounds of storms with potential for hail, tornadoes, and flight delays.

While the summer of 2023 has been a season of smoke for parts of the northern United States, it has been a season with many thunderstorms for much of the Plains and Midwest. AccuWeather meteorologists believe that more rounds of severe weather will affect the Central states in the coming days.

“The weather pattern has been ripe for large complexes of thunderstorms to form and travel dozens to hundreds of miles over the central region of the U.S. This is typically how much of the Plains and Mississippi Valley zones receive rainfall in the summer. However, there have been numerous complexes of storms this summer and more are on the way,” said AccuWeather. 

Rain in recent weeks has been a good thing for drought-stricken areas of the region. 

More rain will fall on some of these extra-needy zones over the next week. But, unfortunately, so will the potential for large complexes of storms with flash flooding as well as damaging wind gusts and hail.

Two zones will be a trouble spot for thunderstorm complexes into early Sunday.

One will be centered on the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma on Saturday night. This batch of severe thunderstorms will be capable of producing wind gusts of 60-80 mph with large hail and isolated flash flooding. A couple of tornadoes cannot be ruled out as well.

“A larger zone of heavy to locally severe storms will extend from near Lake Ontario to upstate South Carolina. The greatest threats will be from localized flash flooding and strong wind gusts,” said AccuWeather Meteorologists.

On Sunday, a new round of severe thunderstorms will erupt over central Iowa, southeastern Nebraska, and north-central Kansas. As the storms erupt and begin to group or form into a line, they will advance toward the east and southeast over portions of the central Plains, the middle Mississippi Valley, and the Interstate 70 and 80 corridors of Illinois, Indiana, and western Ohio.

The main threats from these storms will be strong wind gusts between 60 and 70 mph with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 90 mph. Some of the strongest storms may also produce large hail and perhaps a tornado. By far, the greatest risk to people outdoors will be from frequent lightning strikes, while motorists will be at risk of running into flash flooding from torrential downpours.

A number of large cities in the Midwest will be at risk for severe weather on Sunday. 

These include Chicago, Indianapolis, and St.Louis. In the central Plains, the major cities of Omaha, Nebraska, Kansas City, Missouri, and Des Moines Iowa, may be hit by severe storms. Airline passengers finishing up their vacation or starting a business trip on Sunday afternoon and evening could experience flight delays.

As this zone of severe thunderstorms presses eastward into Monday, the risk of locally severe weather will ramp up over parts of the Ohio and Tennessee valleys to the western slopes of the Appalachians on Monday afternoon and evening.

Localized wind gusts of 50-60 mph are possible with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 70 mph in the strongest storms. The greatest threats will be flash flooding and lightning strikes for those outdoors.

As a disturbance rolls southeastward across the northern Plains on Monday, more thunderstorms are forecast to erupt and turn severe from late in the day to Monday night.

Additional rounds of severe weather, including a large or long-lived thunderstorm complex or two are likely to occur over portions of the Plains and Midwest from Tuesday to Friday.

It is possible for the same complex that begins over the northern Plains and lasts into Monday night, to continue to move along over portions of the middle Mississippi Valley and the Tennessee Valley on Tuesday.

Another complex of thunderstorms, some potentially severe may develop over the Dakotas and travel toward Minnesota on Tuesday.

Many portions of the Plains and Mississippi Valley are likely to pick up 0.25 of an inch to 1 inch of rain through Friday. However, pockets of heavier rain are likely to occur where thunderstorms repeat. Rainfall will be more liberal in nature east of the Mississippi, where parts of the Ohio and Tennessee Valley may pick up 1-3 inches into Tuesday. Locally higher amounts are likely, with double and triple that amount of rain foreseen for the Northeast, where flooding problems may become widespread.

“As long as the setup remains with a heat dome of high pressure from the Southwest to the South Central states, and a large storm continues to create a dip in the jet stream over the eastern parts of Canada to the central and eastern U.S., more complexes of thunderstorms are likely to erupt,” said AccuWeather. 

The storms tend to form along the edge of hot and cool air and are carried along by the stream to the east and southeast.

The same pattern will allow smoke to be carried southeastward from massive wildfires in western Canada to the North-Central states and even into the Northeast and Southeast states this week.

Produced in association with AccuWeather

Edited by Judy J. Rotich and Newsdesk Manager

“What’s the latest with Florida Man?”

Get news, handpicked just for you, in your box.

Check out our free email newsletters

Recommended from our partners