An outbreak of severe thunderstorms – including at least some tornadoes – appears likely to kick off the Memorial Day weekend in parts of the nation's midsection.
Storms are expected to kick across the central Plains overnight and through Saturday with damaging winds, hail and a few tornadoes.
(MORE: Tornado Central)
Current Radar, Watches and Warnings.
The Ingredients For Saturday's Severe Weather
Hot and humid air will stream northward from the western Gulf of Mexico toward a quasi-stationary frontal boundary draped from the Ohio Valley to the Plains. Extreme amounts of energy are likely in parts of Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas.
Overlying that increasingly steamy air mass, the jet stream will send a train of disturbances and help enhance wind shear, the change in wind direction with height, that can give rise to vigorous thunderstorms.
While Saturday looks to be the day with the most widespread severe thunderstorms, other days during the weekend may also have some severe weather, as well.
Storm reports so far:
One batch of thunderstorms produced hail as large as 2.50 inches in diameter or the size of baseballs in central Illinois Friday afternoon and evening.
Vermilion County, Illinois was especially hard hit. A wind gust up to 70 mph was recorded near Bismarck, possibly to a tornado. Windshields in Hoopeston were broken by two inch or greater hail stones.
Numerous trees were downed or snapped according to reports in west-central Indiana. Several homes and cars were damaged by falling tree branches.
Wind-blown hail near Pine Bluffs, Wyoming was forceful enough to strip trees and mow down wheatfields.
Hail slightly larger than eggs fell near El Paso, Colorado on Friday evening.
Multiple brief tornadoes were seen in southern Wyoming and eastern Colorado, but no damage was reported.
(MORE: Memorial Day Weekend Forecast)
- Afternoon: Widespread severe thunderstorms are expected from eastern Oklahoma or southern Missouri into western parts of the Ohio Valley. Scattered severe storms are also expected to flare up in eastern Oklahoma and north Texas. At least a few severe storms are possible as far east as the Virginias and North Carolina.
- Night: One or more clusters of thunderstorms are likely to persist through the overnight hours from Saturday night into early Sunday from the Lower Ohio Valley into the Tennessee Valley and Ozarks.
- Threats: Damaging winds will be the main threat, but large hail, tornadoes and flash flooding are all possible, as well as localized flash flooding, given saturated ground from multiple heavy rain events over the past several weeks.
- Cities: Dallas | Tulsa | Little Rock | St. Louis | Louisville
Saturday's Thunderstorm Forecast
- Where: A rather expansive zone of strong to severe storms is possible from the Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and Appalachians to the Tennessee Valley westward to central Texas.
- Threats: Damaging winds, hail and perhaps some tornadoes are possible, as well as locally heavy rain with flash flooding, especially in the Appalachians and South.
- Cities: Cincinnati | Nashville | Austin
Sunday's Severe Forecast
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