Hello and Happy Friday! After a brief break from severe weather earlier this week, the threat is ramping back up this weekend. Parts of the Plains that were slammed with large hail and tornadoes last week are at risk for some strong storms once again.
A strong upper level storm system sitting over the Great Basin will begin to push eastward today. An associated surface low and warm front will be the focal points for severe weather development this afternoon. The SPC has issued an enhanced risk (orange shade) for strong storms today across parts of South Dakota and Nebraska. Greatest threats will be large hail, damaging wind gusts, and a few isolated tornadoes. Larger cities potentially seeing severe weather today include:
Scottsbluff, NE: 15,023 (Enhanced Risk)
Hays, KS: 21,038 (Enhanced Risk)
North Platte, NE: 24,534 (Enhanced Risk)
Rapid City, SD: 70,812 (Slight Risk)
Amarillo, TX: 196,429 (Slight Risk)
Tomorrow, as a cold front pushes across the Central Plains, the enhanced risk for severe weather expands to include areas stretching from southern Nebraska to north Texas. Isolated tornadoes, large hail, and strong winds are all possible with storms developing tomorrow in the orange and yellow shaded areas. Some large population cities under the threat for severe weather include:
Fargo, ND: 113,658 (Slight Risk)
Wichita, KS: 386,552 (Enhanced Risk)
Omaha, NE: 434,353 (Slight Risk)
Oklahoma City, OK: 610,613 (Enhanced Risk)
Dallas: 1.258 million (Slight Risk)
As that strong upper level system begins to push towards the Great Lakes on Sunday, the severe risk shifts to parts of the Upper Midwest. Large hail and damaging wind gusts are the primary threats, but a few isolated tornadoes can’t be ruled out. Larger cities in the slight risk (yellow shade) on Sunday include:
Green Bay, WI: 104,779
Peoria, IL: 116,513
Madison, WI: 243,344
St. Louis, MO: 318,416
Chicago, IL: 2.719 million
Twin Cities, MN: 3.5 million
After being slammed with heavy rains over the past week or so, parts of Oklahoma and Texas are beginning to see improvements in drought conditions. Currently, neither Texas nor Oklahoma are experiencing exceptional drought! That’s a 4% improvement over last week for Oklahoma. Also, the extreme drought conditions managed to decrease from just under 18% to just over 3.5%. In Texas, the extreme drought shrunk from just under 5.5% to just under 2%. The rain will continue to fall across the Southern Plains through this weekend. Flash flooding concerns (green shade) exist today and tomorrow.
Highest elevations in the central Rockies could pick up between 4-8″ of snow over the weekend as this strong upper level system slowly tracks towards the east. A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for parts of Southwestern Colorado. Locations that will be impacted by the snow include Vail, Aspen, Tulluride, and Silverton. Temperatures in the Southwest will also be affected by this storm system. The strong upper level feature is pulling in some cold air from Canada and that’s allowing temperatures in places like southern California and southwestern Arizona to drop well below mid-May averages. Scattered rain showers and lightning are possible today and tomorrow throughout the Desert Southwest. Here’s a look at Phoenix’s extended forecast:
Things will stay pretty active for the central U.S. this weekend. Here’s what to expect across the rest of the nation:
Today, the Northeast will see lots of sunshine and highs in the upper 60s and 70s. It will be sunny with isolated afternoon storms in the Sunshine state and dry and quiet for much of the Northwest. Rain is possible across the Desert Southwest. A risk for severe storms is in place over the Central Plains.
Tomorrow, severe storm chances continue for the Plains. Scattered rain showers and storms develop for the Southeast, Ohio and Tennessee Valleys. Cloud cover returns to the Northwest. A few more clouds are likely across New England as temperatures throughout the Northeast warm into the upper 70s and 80s.
More severe weather is expected for the Upper Midwest to round out the weekend. Some major metropolitan areas, including the Twin Cities and Chicago, are in a slight risk for strong storms. Pleasant weather continues for the Northeast. Temperatures begin to rebound for the Desert Southwest and the sunshine returns. Afternoon storms are possible in Florida as the sea breeze picks up.
Have a great weekend! To check your local forecast, visit wx.aerisweather.com!
-Meteorologist Ashley O’Connor