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Severe storm threat returning to Plains and South

Travel will be touch-and-go, with strong tornadoes possible

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Truckers face the risk of dangerous storm winds, large hail and strong tornadoes the next two days across a large portion of the country.

Severe storms hit parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas on Monday, dropping baseball-size hail. The National Weather Service already has received several tornado reports.

This extremely potent spring storm system will move across the Plains and portions of the South on Tuesday and Wednesday, potentially causing a wide variety of disruptive weather across a much larger area than Monday.

On the northern edge of this storm, a major late-season snowstorm will impact portions of the northern Plains, with blizzard conditions in some areas. In the eastern Plains, a significant severe weather outbreak is likely as the system triggers thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes, very large hail and gusts exceeding 60 mph. In the western Plains, plagued by drought and very dry air, strong gusts will increase the threat of wildfires and dust storms.


The main target area for severe storms Tuesday stretches from parts of the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes. The best chance for potentially strong tornadoes, EF2 or higher (winds of more than 110 mph), is from Topeka, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, northward to Iowa and southern Minnesota.


On Wednesday, the threat for severe weather shifts a bit to the east. It still includes the Gulf Coast, from Houston to Mobile, Alabama, and extends all the way to Milwaukee and Toledo, Ohio. Storm gusts higher than 70 mph, as well as particularly strong tornadoes, will be possible from the Ohio Valley to the lower Mississippi Valley.

The best thing for truckers to do is to set the weather apps on their mobile devices to GPS or location mode. This way they will receive local severe weather alerts no matter where they are along their routes.

Major lanes of concern

  • Interstate 10 from Houston to Mobile.
  • Interstate 20 from Dallas to Birmingham, Alabama.
  • Interstate 40 from Oklahoma City to Nashville, Tennessee.
  • Interstate 55 from Chicago to New Orleans.
  • Interstate 70 from Topeka to Dayton, Ohio.
  • Interstate 80 from Omaha, Nebraska, to Toledo.
  • Interstate 90 from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to Chicago.

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.