Severe storm, tornado threat far from over in central US

In the wake of violent, deadly and devasting tornadoes and high wind gusts from Monday's severe weather outbreak over the Plains, the likelihood of severe weather and more tornadoes will continue over a large part of the central United States into midweek, AccuWeather meteorologists warn.

Thunderstorms erupted rapidly and quickly turned violent during Monday afternoon and evening, unleashing close to 250 incidents of severe weather, including more than a dozen tornadoes and hail ranging from the size of golf balls to softballs. One violent tornado tore through Barnsdall, Oklahoma, where one person was killed and several others were injured.

On Tuesday, tornadoes touched down in Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Arkansas. The highest number of tornadoes was in Michigan, where nearly a dozen tornadoes were reported. While the tornadoes caused damage and injured one person, there were no reports of any deaths.


On Wednesday, the threat of severe weather will ramp up over much of the same area as Tuesday's threat zone. The number at risk for severe weather will jump to at least 125 million people at midweek.

"We expect much more jet stream energy to be present on Wednesday, and that will lead to much greater destabilization of the atmosphere," Buckingham said.

The setup may lead to more severe thunderstorms and a higher number of tornadoes compared to Tuesday, as well as more intense storms that could translate to strong and long-tracking tornadoes.

A key to that intensity may be the extent of cloud cover and the number of showers and thunderstorms that compete for the energy available in the atmosphere.

AccuWeather meteorologists have outlined a high risk of severe thunderstorms, including tornadoes Wednesday afternoon and evening from northeastern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri to southern Illinois, southwestern Indiana, western and central Kentucky and northwestern and north-central Tennessee.

"It may not take long for severe thunderstorms to begin producing tornadoes on Wednesday," Buckingham warned. Tornadoes tend to form from discrete, intense thunderstorms, known as supercells.

The zone from central Ohio to central Arkansas is likely to be hit with severe weather for the second day in a row. In particular, the area from Louisville, Kentucky, to Dyersburg, Tennessee, is at a high risk of severe weather, including the potential for strong tornadoes.

Over 120 million people will be at risk for severe weather on Wednesday, so many major cities and small towns will be affected. As the storms erupt and pass near the airport hubs in the region, flight delays will increase and the risk of cancellations will mount.

Because much of the Ohio, Tennessee and middle Mississippi valleys may be subject to two days of thunderstorms packing not only severe weather but also heavy rainfall, the risk of flash flooding will be substantially higher by midweek. The flash flood risk will continue in parts of the Tennessee and Ohio valleys and spread into the central and southern Appalachians by Thursday as more storms erupt.

The main threat of severe weather will shift toward the Atlantic and Gulf coast for the latter part of the week. Thursday could be very active in terms of severe weather, including tornadoes, especially in the mid-Atlantic.

On Thursday, the risk of both severe and locally drenching thunderstorms will return to portions of northeastern and central Texas, including in areas hit hard by torrential rain and deadly flash flooding from last week. The downpours are not likely to linger as long over such a broad area on Thursday. However, there may be brief surges along small streams and rivers. A more substantial zone of heavy rain may threaten parts of Texas and much of the Gulf Coast region from Sunday to Tuesday.

From late this week into next week the atmosphere over much of the severe weather- and tornado-weary regions will be less conducive for large outbreaks. A much-needed break will result that may last for a few days in some locations. There will still be smaller disturbances passing through that can bring periodic severe weather and isolated tornadoes in the next week.

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