Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Severe storms will hit the Midwest on Saturday

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Meanwhile, some areas of the hardest-hit South Central and Southeast regions should take a welcome break this weekend.

The risk of severe weather, including isolated tornadoes this weekend, will be concentrated in parts of the central United States that have experienced few to no violent storms so far this spring, AccuWeather weather forecasters say.

So far this spring, there have only been a few days when a severe weather outbreak has affected much of the northern plains and upper Midwest. The most recent event took place on April 12, which saw about a dozen reports of tornadoes and dozens of strong wind and hail events. A more concentrated and violent severe weather outbreak occurred on March 5, when at least 40 tornadoes were reported from Iowa and Missouri to Ohio and there were at least 200 severe weather incidents.

A strong storm system will pivot toward the central Canadian border this weekend, triggering another snowstorm for parts of the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming.

Despite the strength of the storm system, a major outbreak of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes is not expected this weekend. However, risk for both will slowly move eastward into increasingly densely populated areas along the Plains and Midwest and ahead of a cold front.

Forecasters say a few isolated tornadoes may occur anywhere in the severe weather zones any day through Sunday. It is enough for a tornado to hit a populated area to pose a serious threat to life and property. While tornadoes can be small overall with this configuration, storms that can produce large hail and strong winds could result in significant risk and damage some communities.

The greatest risk of tornadoes is likely to be in parts of South Dakota and Nebraska over the northern third of the zone through Friday night. Storms breaking out anywhere over the Plains and upper Midwest through Friday night will have the potential to bring damaging hail and strong winds.

The risk of severe thunderstorms on Saturday will push eastward, stretching along a 1,100-mile strip from eastern North Dakota and much of Minnesota south to much of Oklahoma and north-central Texas. Not every location within this massive zone and the advancing cold front will be hit by severe weather, but some storms can become unpleasant, unleashing strong winds and large hail.

In addition to Minneapolis and Oklahoma City, other major cities at risk of severe thunderstorms Saturday afternoon and Saturday night are Omaha, Neb., Des Moines, Iowa, Kansas City, Mo., Wichita and Topeka, Kan.

The risk of an isolated tornado or thunderstorm with damaging wind and hail continues into Saturday night. Experts say people must have the means to stay weather aware and get the latest severe weather reports. Storms should be less intense until the cold front pushes through the Chicago area on Sunday morning, when daily warming is near minimum. Still, thunder, heavy lightning and brief gusty downpours may occur in some parts of the city.

The passage of this front will spell the end of summer heat across much of the Plains and Midwest. Temperatures will be no better than the low 70s on Sunday after being high in the low 80s on Saturday. Temperatures may struggle to reach the mid-50s through Monday.

The overall risk of severe thunderstorms is lower on Sunday. However, some locally violent thunderstorms are expected in the afternoon and evening along the advancing cold front.

Sunday’s largest concentration of locally severe storms may occur in parts of central and western Texas, southeastern Oklahoma and northwestern Arkansas. However, some gusty storms may also occur in parts of the Ohio Valley and the central Great Lakes regions.

The southwestern part of the front is expected to stall from Sunday and Monday. This border of cool air in the north and warm and humid air in the south is likely to result in repeated showers and thunderstorms. The total rainfall from these sustained storms could cause flooding in cities and small rivers, meteorologists warn.

Some of the soggy downpours early next week could extend far enough west to reach some communities in western and central Texas and Oklahoma that are grappling with long-term drought and increased risk of wildfires. As of early July 2021, Abilene, Texas has received only about 49% of its normal rainfall. From July 1 to April 22, rainfall averages 17.89 inches, but rainfall a mere 8.73 inches has been recorded there. In comparison, Houston typically receives about 40 inches of rain during the same period and about 75 inches, or just over 32 inches, since July 1st.

Parts of the Lower Southern Plains aren’t the only region threatened by flooding problems.

In areas about 1,000 miles to the north, the Red River of the North is expected to burst for the second time this year due to the second thaw that is still ongoing, AccuWeather Meteorologist Matt Benz said.

As in early to mid-April, a second peak is forecast towards the end of the month as the snow that has fallen over the past few weeks melts and combines with rain. “In Grand Forks, ND, on April 15-16, the river reached an elevation of 32.28 feet, which is the smaller flood level of the river for that location, and is expected to creep over 34 feet by the end of April,” Benz said.

Flooding problems are still expected to be relatively minor in most areas despite the late onset of winter storms and heavy snowfall, and another snowstorm could hit towards the end of April, according to AccuWeather forecasters.

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