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Severe storm threat heating up again for truckers in Plains

Particularly dangerous tornadoes possible Wednesday

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

After a brief break from stormy weather Tuesday, truckers in the Plains should brace for the return of severe weather.

Parts of the region have been slammed recently with destructive storms, including an EF3 tornado in Andover, Kansas, on Friday evening. The National Weather Service received more than 620 reports of tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail from Friday through Monday, most of them in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas. Many of the same areas will be at risk for additional severe storms Wednesday.

The main target zone will stretch across the southern Plains, including San Angelo, Midland, Dallas, Lubbock, Amarillo and Wichita Falls, Texas; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma; as well as Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Tornadoes may become particularly dangerous — EF2 or stronger — from northern Texas to central Oklahoma. This pocket of the Plains will also be prone to big hail, possibly golf ball size or larger.

Another issue could be excessive rainfall totaling 3 to 6 inches, which could lead to flash flooding on roads, in addition to river flooding. The NWS has issued flood watches from northern Texas to southwestern Missouri.

Thunderstorms may linger in the southern Plains on Wednesday after sunset, but the risk of severe storms will fade overnight into early Thursday.


Severe storms will be most common Thursday in the middle and lower Mississippi valleys, especially during the peak heating hours of the afternoon and early evening. Major metropolitan areas under the gun include St. Louis; Memphis, Tennessee; Little Rock, Arkansas; Jackson, Mississippi; in addition to Dallas, again.

Tornadoes could pop up, but will likely be fewer in numbers compared to Wednesday, and they are less likely to become stronger than EF1.


By Friday, the risk of severe storms moves across the Southeast and Gulf Coast, possibly lingering into Saturday in some places. This includes Chattanooga, Tennessee; Atlanta; most of Alabama; and New Orleans.

The best defense for truckers is for them to set the weather apps on their mobile devices to “GPS” or “location” mode. This way, they will receive local severe weather warnings no matter where they are along their routes.

Major lanes of concern

  • Interstate 10 from Houston to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
  • Interstate 20 from Midland to Jackson.
  • Interstate 35 from Dallas to Oklahoma City.
  • Interstate 40 from Amarillo to Memphis.
  • Interstate 44 from Wichita Falls to St. Louis.
  • Interstate 45 from Houston to Dallas.
  • Interstate 55 from St. Louis to Jackson.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.