Thunderstorms have prompted tornado warnings and flash flood watches this morning in parts of the Gulf Coast, from Texas to Mississippi.
It’s been quite a stormy week so far with damage in numerous states from the Rockies to the Gulf and east Coasts. Additional severe thunderstorms could hit many of the same areas today, causing brief, periodic delays in freight flows and supply chains.
The National Weather Service (NWS) received nearly 300 reports of damaging winds and large hail Monday.
Tuesday was a bit calmer with 81 reports. However, storms were powerful where they did strike, knocking down trees and power lines in several states.
Straight-line winds of 50 to 50 mph blew a large section of metal roof off of a hotel near San Angelo, Texas, and damaged a mobile home canopy near Hahnville, Louisiana.
Hail as big as golf balls and ping pong balls pounded Kirkwood Meadows, California and Kirkwood, Texas, respectively.
In the past two days, severe thunderstorms have hit more than a dozen states in the Southwest, Southeast, Mountain Prairie, Midwest and Northeast freight regions, with more likely coming today.
The NWS classifies a thunderstorm as severe if it produces any of the following based on radar or eyewitness reports:
• Winds of at least 58 mph (50 knots).
• Hail at least 1 inch in diameter.
• A tornado.
Several disturbances are responsible for the rough weather, including troughs of low pressure and slow-moving fronts. Adding fuel to the fire are high levels of humidity and drastic lapse rates – quickly dropping temperatures from the ground into the mid-atmosphere. All of these features make the air unstable, thrusting ordinary storms to severe limits.
It’s not all gloom and doom, however, because the severe storms will be isolated.
Most of them will develop in the following areas: northern Rockies (eastern Idaho to central Montana); central Plains (Nebraska and Kansas); eastern New Mexico and western Texas; Gulf and Southeast coasts (eastern Texas to South Carolina).
Besides dangerous winds and hail today, tornadoes may touch down in a few spots.
Severe storms will impact fewer regions Thursday and Friday, concentrated mostly from the northern Great Plains to the Great Lakes. This includes Des Moines, Iowa; Chicago, Illinois; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Detroit, Michigan.
Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.