By Kristina Pydynowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
July 1,2017, 2:51:03PM,EDT
The greatest threat for flooding downpours and damaging thunderstorms on Independence Day will focus on the central United States.Thunderstorms threaten to interfere with outdoor plans and provide nature's fireworks across the South and Ohio Valley. A few late-day thunderstorms will also briefly cut into the heat over the Front Range of the Rockies and Intermountain West.
The majority of these thunderstorms will ignite during the afternoon and evening hours and briefly force anyone outside to seek shelter.
Thunderstorms will also target the middle Mississippi Valley, but may pose a greater risk to lives and property.
Tuesday will bring the latest round of violent thunderstorms and flooding downpours to the nation’s midsection, focusing on the corridor around Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas.
The exact track of a storm set to move through the central U.S. and remains from Monday’s severe weather will more precisely determine which communities will be at risk for severe thunderstorms as a steadier heavy rain pours down to the north.
Latest indications point toward downpours soaking the corridor from north of I-70 to around I-80 with locally severe thunderstorms erupting to the south.
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“Areas that already endured flooding in recent days will encounter more heavy rainfall for the Fourth of July,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Maggie Samuhel said. “Worse than ruining parades and picnics, flash flooding can result.”
Torrential rainfall to end June (radar estimates were in excess of 6 inches) brought streams and rivers out of their banks across northern Missouri.
The Grand River near Pattonsburg, Missouri, spiked from around 3 feet on Wednesday evening to near 36 feet on Friday—the river’s third highest crest at this location in recorded history.
While the river has started to recede, heavy rainfall on Independence Day could once again cause rises on area streams and rivers.
Anyone enjoying the holiday outdoors from Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield, Missouri; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Fayetteville, Arkansas, will have to stay alert for locally damaging winds, hail, flooding downpours and frequent lightning.
Some residents may have to settle for nature’s fireworks instead of the colorful displays communities have planned.
It is possible that the remains from Monday’s severe thunderstorms press farther to the south than currently expected. That would put some of the above cities at greater risk for flooding rainfall and shift the severe weather risk southward across more of Arkansas and Oklahoma.
In either scenario, the risk for violent thunderstorms on the Fourth of July will be highest during the afternoon and overnight hours.
Even if flooding or severe weather does not ensue, remember to seek shelter as soon as thunder is heard. The risk of being struck by lightning is then present.
Downpours will also create hazards for motorists by reducing visibility and heightening the danger of vehicles hydroplaning when traveling at highway speeds on stretches of interstates 35, 44, 55, 70 and 80.
Where the weather forces fireworks displays to be delayed, drier air will attempt to gradually work into the mid-Mississippi Valley Wednesday into Thursday as the rain and thunderstorms shift over more of the Ohio Valley and into the Northeast.
However, more thunderstorms are likely to quickly return to the mid-Mississipi Valley toward the new weekend.