A potent spring storm will target the Central states later this week, bringing the threat of damaging thunderstorms.
“A storm expected to form over the Plains late Thursday appears to have the necessary ingredients to kick start the spring severe weather season,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Max Vido said.
The central and southern High Plains may face the initial round of severe weather later on Thursday. The danger is then expected to shift eastward to the Arklatex and lower Mississippi Valley on Friday.
“Residents should be especially observant of the late-week forecast. Storms capable of producing damaging winds, large hail and tornadoes are certainly a possibility,” Vido said.
Cities that could face severe weather later this week include Dodge City and Wichita, Kansas; Oklahoma City; Lubbock, Dallas and Houston, Texas; Kansas City and Springfield, Missouri; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Shreveport, Louisiana.
"However, the one thing we are monitoring that could counter-act severe weather along the Gulf Coast is the cooler-than-normal waters of the Gulf of Mexico," Vido said.
"With an area of high pressure positioned off the mid-Atlantic coast, winds will take a trajectory over the Gulf of Mexico into the southern Plains," he said.
If the storm tracks farther to the north and warm and moist air follows suit, the threat area would also have to expand in a similar fashion, possibly to I-80 in the mid-Mississippi Valley.
Even if the storm tracks into the Midwest, the door may open for a secondary system to split off over the Mississippi Valley, tapping into Gulf moisture and bringing heavy rain through the South this weekend.
While both scenarios bring rain to the southern and central U.S., the second option limits the threat for severe weather in the Midwest.
A dramatic cold shot will not follow the severe weather threat in the South Central states, allowing spring warmth to rebound. The region will have to be monitored for additional severe weather in the final days of March as other storms emerge from the Rockies.