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Minneapolis, Chicago, Omaha Face Severe Weather Danger

By Kristina Pydynowski, senior meteorologist
August 31, 2014; 11:21 PM ET

An outbreak of severe weather, including a few tornadoes, threatens to ruin the holiday weekend across the north-central United States.

A widespread severe weather outbreak is still on tap for late Sunday, putting residents and visitors enjoying the Labor Day holiday weekend in harm's way.

"A strong cold front along with a stout wave of energy will push into the northern and central Plains Sunday afternoon and evening, transitioning through the Upper Midwest Sunday night," stated AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions Lead Meteorologist Eddie Walker.

"Storms will develop along the front later Sunday, moving eastward quickly with the threat for severe weather imminent anywhere ahead of the line."

More specifically, the cities of St. Cloud, Minneapolis; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Grand Island and Omaha, Nebraska; and Sioux City, Iowa, will be threatened late Sunday.

The danger will shift to Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Kansas City, Missouri; and Topeka, Kansas, at night.

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Minneapolis and Rochester, Minnesota, as well as La Crosse, Wisconsin, will actually face two rounds of violent thunderstorms. A line of thunderstorms with strong winds and hail will swing through Sunday afternoon before the main severe weather event follows at night.

"In addition to the potential for a few tornadoes, many of the storms will bring the full spectrum risk of severe weather, including damaging wind gusts, large hail, frequent lightning strikes and flash flooding," according to AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

Those attending picnics, parades, sporting events or any other holiday celebrations should have a weather radio handy or make sure cell phone notifications for storm-related watches and warnings are turned on.

AccuWeather.com MinuteCast™ will also help keep you ahead of impending severe weather.

"The tornado threat will be most problematic from late afternoon through early evening," added AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions Expert Senior Meteorologist Scott Breit.

That puts central and eastern Nebraska and western Iowa at greatest risk for tornadoes to touch down and threaten lives and property. Omaha and Pilger, Nebraska, site of the deadly twin tornadoes from earlier this summer, lie in this zone.

Breit expects the tornado danger to evolve into more of a straight-line wind threat overnight Sunday, likely before the violent thunderstorms reach Minneapolis and Cedar Rapids.

The severe weather risk in terms of damaging winds should wane for a time late Sunday night and Monday morning. Blinding downpours could still remain as the thunderstorms push into the Upper Midwest and disrupt outdoor holiday plans.

A new round of severe weather is expected to ignite as the Labor Day holiday weekend comes to a close Monday afternoon from southwestern Michigan and northern Illinois to Missouri.

This includes Kalamazoo, Michigan; South Bend, Indiana; Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and St. Louis and Columbia, Missouri. The danger will reach Indianapolis Monday evening, when isolated severe thunderstorms will also extend back along the border of Kansas and Oklahoma.

Damaging winds, hail and flooding downpours are the greatest concerns on Labor Day. Any tornado touching down would be an isolated event, but it only takes one tornado to turn the holiday into a nightmare for a family and/or community.

Later Monday night, the severe weather danger will transition to a greater flood threat as thunderstorms will track repeatedly over the corridor from central Missouri to western Ohio. This includes St. Louis and Indianapolis.

Throughout the Labor Day holiday weekend, anyone spending time outdoors is reminded to seek shelter as soon as thunder is heard. You are then close enough to be struck by lightning.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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