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Severe storm threat rising for truckers in Plains, Midwest

High winds, large hail, tornadoes likely next 3 days

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Updated May 10, 2022, 10:30 a.m. ET.

Truckers will have to stay on their toes this week as more severe thunderstorms pop up from the Plains to the Midwest.

Parts of the Midwest, mainly in Minnesota and Wisconsin, were struck by damaging winds, large hail and a few tornadoes Monday.

Abundant warmth, humidity and atmospheric energy will trigger storms in these regions for at least the next three days, beginning Tuesday. Drivers will hit pockets of gusty winds and large hail, as well as torrential rain that could cause localized flash flooding. Also, tornadoes could touch down in some places.


Two areas of the country will be under the gun Tuesday — one in Wisconsin and one in Texas. This includes Milwaukee, Madison, Wausau and Green Bay, Wisconsin, as well as Amarillo, Lubbock, Abilene, Midland and Fort Stockton, Texas. A few spots in western Oklahoma and southeastern New Mexico could also see severe storms.

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest risk of severe weather, most of these areas are under a level 2. This means severe winds of at least 60 mph and large hail at least 1 inch in diameter will be scattered. A small number of isolated tornadoes may develop.

However, damaging winds and large hail may become more numerous between Midland and Abilene, northward to Interstate 40 between Amarillo and Elk City, Oklahoma. The Storm Prediction Center has placed these areas in a more serious level 3 risk.


The threat for severe storms stays in the Midwest on Wednesday, with a level 2 risk from Minneapolis-St. Paul to the Interstate 29 corridor from Sioux City, Iowa, to Fargo, North Dakota. Isolated severe storms (level 1) could hit spots as far south as western Texas.


The risk of severe storms increases to level 3 Thursday. It includes the same areas under the level 2 risk Tuesday, plus locations stretching northward into northern Minnesota and southward to eastern Nebraska. There’s also a higher chance for tornadoes Thursday in the level 3 locations.

Truckers could hit scattered severe storms as far south as southern Kansas (near Wichita) and as far east as western Wisconsin.

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 29 from Omaha, Nebraska, to the North Dakota-Canada border.
  • Interstate 35 from Des Moines, Iowa, to Duluth, Minnesota.
  • Interstate 80 from Grand Island, Nebraska, to Des Moines.
  • Interstate 90 from Sioux Falls to Madison.
  • Interstate 94 from Milwaukee to Fargo.

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.