Severe thunderstorms hit parts of the southern Great Plains yesterday, May 13, producing damaging winds and large hail from Texas to Kansas. It was a busy day with almost three dozen reports of large hail and wind damage, along with a tornado report in western Texas. Today, the risk for severe weather shifts to the Midwest, and may briefly disrupt freight flows with drivers having to occasionally slow down or stop as they run into storms.
The low pressure system that helped spark the storms in the Plains is tracking into the Midwest and southern Great Lakes. There’s still plenty of warmth, energy and moisture in the atmosphere to produce organized thunderstorm clusters today and tonight, and perhaps a few weak supercells, which are thunderstorms that rotate and contain strong updrafts. Some storms will likely become severe, resulting in locally damaging winds, large hail and perhaps a few tornadoes across the potential risk zone indicated on the SONAR Critical Events map above.
The National Weather Service (NWS) defines a thunderstorm as severe if it produces any of the following:
⦁ Winds of at least 58 mph.
⦁ Hail at least 1 inch in diameter.
⦁ A tornado.
The overall tornado risk is low, but not zero. There’s a 2% to 5% chance of a tornado developing within 25 miles of any location within the potential threat zone. Straight-line winds may be severe enough to knock down trees and power lines in some areas, leading to possible roadblocks
Today’s storms may also have a tendency to be high-precipitation (HP) storms with torrential rainfall, with up to 3 inches of accumulation. The NWS has issued flash flood watches from eastern Kansas through much of Missouri and far western Illinois. A flash flood watch means conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding, especially in south-central and southeastern Kansas where recent rainfall has resulted in saturated soils.
Some of the larger cities at risk include, but are not limited to: Wichita and Topeka, Kansas; Kansas City and Jefferson City, Missouri; Davenport, Iowa; Chicago, Illinois; South Bend, Indiana; and Toledo, Ohio.
On Friday, the severe storms could pop up again in parts of Texas and Oklahoma, in addition to portions of the Northeast.
Have a great day! Please stay healthy and be careful out there!