Following isolated damaging thunderstorms in the western Plains to start the week, a more significant severe weather outbreak will eye the central United States through midweek.
Residents from Wisconsin to Texas should keep a close eye on the forecast and keep flashlights and weather radios handy Tuesday into Wednesday.
A strengthening storm system ejecting eastward into the Plains will serve as the trigger for these storms.
“Severe storms will first develop during the afternoon along the boundary separating cool air to the north and warm air to the south, stretching from northern Wisconsin through eastern Nebraska,” according to AccuWeather Storm Warning Meteorologist John Lavin. “The main threats will be damaging winds, hail and flash flooding, but a few tornadoes are also possible in this corridor.”
These storms will target cities such as Minneapolis, Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska.
“Most of the thunderstorm activity will remain just to the north of Minneapolis through the Tuesday afternoon rush hour before arriving shortly thereafter,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rathbun stated.
“By late afternoon and evening, supercells (the strongest type of severe thunderstorm) should erupt from northwestern Kansas southward through western Oklahoma and western Texas,” Lavin said.
Lavin believes that the area from southwestern Kansas through western Oklahoma and the eastern Texas Panhandle is at greatest risk for being rattled by tornadoes, some of which could develop extreme intensity.
These violent tornadoes may threaten the cities and surrounding communities of Hays and Dodge City, Kansas; Woodward and Elk City, Oklahoma; and Childress, Texas.
If a tornado warning is issued, residents should quickly seek shelter in the lowest level of their homes and move away from doors and windows. Many homes in the Plains are equipped with underground storm cellars, which provide an even greater degree of safety during threatening weather.
Storms will likely merge into a line by Tuesday night as they charge eastward through central Kansas and central Oklahoma.
At this point, the risk of tornadoes will gradually diminish, with damaging winds becoming the primary threat, Lavin added.
Des Moines, Iowa; Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Topeka, Salina and Wichita, Kansas; Oklahoma City; and Abilene, Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, lie within the threat area Tuesday night.
“Spanning Tuesday and Tuesday night, the severe storms are expected to cause disruptions to logistical operations, with downed trees and power lines, road closures and structural damage to businesses and homes all possible,” AccuWeather Storm Warning Meteorologist Joseph Bauer said.
“This activity will continue to lift to the north and east, impacting Minneapolis during the Wednesday morning rush hour, but likely weaken below severe limits before doing so,” Rathbun added.
Although storms may develop again on Wednesday afternoon from eastern Nebraska to northwestern Wisconsin, the risk of widespread severe weather is expected to diminish.
However, a few locally heavy, gusty thunderstorms can still cause sporadic power outages, ponding of water on roadways and modest airline delays in cities such as Omaha, Des Moines and Minneapolis.
According to Rathbun, most if not all of the thunderstorm activity will remain to the north and west of Chicago through Wednesday.
Unfortunately, little reprieve from the active weather pattern can be expected into the upcoming weekend as another round of severe thunderstorms and flooding rainfall hammer the central United States spanning Thursday to Sunday.