Ag Weather Forum

Major Severe Weather Outbreak Forecast for Plains on Monday

John Baranick
By  John Baranick , DTN Meteorologist
A major severe weather outbreak is forecast for the Plains including strong, long-tracked tornadoes in Oklahoma and southern Kansas, necessitating the SPC's first High Risk of severe weather designation this season (in red). (DTN graphic)

The active weather pattern this spring continues Monday and will bring about a significant risk for an outbreak of severe weather across the Central and Southern Plains this afternoon and evening. Strong, long-tracked tornadoes, massive hail, and a couple lines of significant wind damage are going to be possible.

The system causing the risk is moving out of the Rockies and into the Plains Monday morning. Over the weekend, it dumped massive amounts of snow in the California Sierra mountains -- up to over two feet in some spots -- and caused flooding in northern California as well. Some roads had to be shut down to the conditions. The low-pressure center is moving into western South Dakota this morning and the winds in the Plains are increasing quickly. Wind gusts from Colorado up through western North Dakota have already reached into the 35 mph to 50 mph range as of 8 a.m. CDT and will be increasing throughout the morning and expanding to more of the High Plains throughout the day. The storm is pushing a cold front down out of the Rockies and into the Plains where it will interact with warm and moist air that has been sourced from the Gulf of Mexico. Dew point temperatures in the 50s and 60s will aid thunderstorm development, which has already started in the Northern Plains, but will quickly develop by midday across western Kansas and Nebraska. Models have this developing as early as 10 a.m. CDT. As the day wears on, thunderstorms will explode along the cold front from South Dakota to Texas. The southern end of this will have the greatest risk of the most significant severe weather. The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has thrown out its first High Risk of severe weather notification across south-central Kansas and north-central Oklahoma for Monday afternoon and evening. The SPC does not throw out High Risks very often, usually a handful of times each year. So, this is a significant severe weather outbreak event being forecast.

The initial threats will be numerous including long-tracked tornadoes, which may be strong (EF-3 or greater), and massive hail over two inches in diameter. As the evening wears on and storms progress to eastern Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma, the risk shifts to more of a line of damaging winds. Labeled by meteorologists as an MCS (mesoscale convective system), this line of thunderstorms will have potential for producing some wind gusts over 75 mph. With the major threat weakening overnight as the storms progress through Iowa and Missouri, a risk of a derecho is very low. Still, widespread wind, hail, and tornado damage are forecast over the Central and Southern Plains today. Those in the immediate areas should stay weather aware, especially in Iowa and Missouri after the sun sets and folks head off to bed. Overnight severe storms can catch people off-guard and unprepared.

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