Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Severe Weather Threat, Including Tornadoes, Kicks Off Late Thursday in Plains, Sweeps Into South Friday, Saturday

Jonathan Belles
Published: March 21,2017

Severe thunderstorms, including the threat of tornadoes, will rumble across parts of the Plains and South later this first week of spring.
The ingredients for this multi-day severe threat begin to come together on Thursday as an energetic upper-level system swings from the Southwest into the Plains states.
Winds at jet stream level are expected to be strong out of the southwest, which will contribute to the strong wind shear – change in wind speed and direction with height – needed to help sustain supercell thunderstorms.
(MORE: Tornado Central)
At the surface, a strong area of low pressure is expected to develop in the central High Plains, which will then slide into the Midwest by Saturday.
Moisture will surge northward into the central Plains through late week, creating a buoyant environment for storms to take root in and grow vertically. Dew points in the 50s and 60s should be supportive of severe storm development, especially on Friday.
(MORE: Where to Expect Tornadoes in March)
There is uncertainty about how much deep moisture there will be and how far north the moisture will surge, which is one factor that will dictate how large this severe threat will become.
For now, here is a general outlook for later this week. Keep in mind that since we are still a couple days away, this forecast is subject to change. Check back with weather.com for the latest.


Late Thursday

  • Scattered severe storms should flare up along a dryline in the central and southern High Plains during the late afternoon, evening and overnight hours.
  • Large hail, some tornadoes and damaging wind gusts are possible threats from any severe storms.
  • Storms that do develop will push eastward toward the Interstate 35 corridor from southern Kansas to Texas by daybreak Friday.

Thunderstorm Forecast For Thursday Evening


  • The best chance for severe storms will be from central and east Texas, eastern Oklahoma and eastern Kansas into parts of southwestern Missouri, western Arkansas and northwestern Louisiana.
  • Scattered severe storms may also reach as far north as eastern Nebraska and parts of Iowa.
  • Damaging wind gusts and large hail will be possible, along with the threat of at least a few tornadoes.
  • These severe storms should persist Friday night in the lower Mississippi Valley and mid-South regions, with thunderstorms potentially reaching as far north as the Ohio Valley. 
  • Locally heavy rain and flash flooding will also be threats, particularly if the line of thunderstorms moves slower or stalls for a period of time.

Thunderstorm Forecast For Friday


  • The cold front will slide across the Mississippi River into the Ohio Valley and South with showers and thunderstorms.
  • Severe storms are possible in parts of the lower Mississippi Valley and Tennessee Valley.
  • Damaging winds, heavy rain and perhaps a tornado are the threats.

Thunderstorm Forecast For Saturday

MORE: Tornadoes in the Midwest, March 6, 2017

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