Fox News Weather Center

Tornado Danger Peaks Across Plains Again on Thursday

Severe weather will return to the Plains later this week with an outbreak, complete with tornadoes, likely to unfold on Thursday.

Thursday's outbreak will yield numerous thunderstorms capable of unleashing damaging winds, large hail, frequent lightning, flooding downpours and tornadoes.

At this time, the greatest tornado danger on Thursday, mainly during the afternoon and evening, stretches from eastern Nebraska and Iowa to eastern Oklahoma, northeastern Texas and western Arkansas.

Cities in this zone include Dallas and Tyler, Texas, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma, Fayetteville, Arkansas, Topeka and Wichita, Kansas, Kansas City and Springfield, Missouri, Omaha, Nebraska, and Des Moines, Iowa.

Motorists planning to travel on stretches of Interstates 29, 35, 40, 44, 49, 70 and 80 are at risk. Remember, a vehicle is a dangerous place to be when a tornado is approaching.

According to AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions Storm Warning Meteorologist Rich Putnam, all the ingredients will be coming together for tornadoes to touch down.

"Energy in the upper levels of the atmosphere will arrive just in time for tornado development on Thursday," Putnam stated.

Putnam continued, "[In the southern Plains], the severe weather looks to initiate very near I-35 and will then move eastward."

A key ingredient for Thursday's outbreak will be the warmth that is challenging records in the southern Plains and set to build northward. Igniting the violent thunderstorms and tornadoes will be the storm that will first bring dramatic changes to the West.

Thursday, however, will not mark the return of violent thunderstorms to the Plains this week.

As the warmth surges northward, mainly hail-producing thunderstorms can start targeting the Upper Midwest as early as Tuesday night around northern Iowa. Another round of similar thunderstorms will also rattle northern Iowa, as well as southern Minneapolis and Wisconsin Wednesday night.

Very spotty thunderstorms with large hail and damaging winds will threaten west-central Oklahoma and central Texas during the late-day hours of Tuesday and Wednesday. An isolated tornado cannot be ruled out.

These thunderstorms will fire along what is known as a dry line, which separates desert air from the West and humid Gulf of Mexico air from the east.

The dry line may activate a bit more for Wednesday night before the worst of the severe weather outbreak commences Thursday afternoon.

"I think in the end, pretty much nothing ends up developing Wednesday, which would in turn make the atmosphere more volatile for severe weather on Thursday," Putnam added.

Thursday night, strong thunderstorms may track across more of the upper and mid-Mississippi Valley toward Lake Michigan as the severe weather danger evolves into a heavy rain threat around the Arlatex. meteorologists will be monitoring the potential for gusty thunderstorms to rattle the Great Lakes on Friday, as well as drenching and stronger thunderstorms across the lower Mississippi Valley and Texas.