1st severe weather, tornado threat of 2024 for Upper Midwest unfolded Thursday
Surging warmth sparked thunderstorms, some of which turned severe with tornadoes, in parts of Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa Thursday evening.
For his incredible pictures and videos of twin tornadoes in Colorado last summer, storm chaser Tony Laubach was honored at a national summit this week.
While millions in the Midwest may be enjoying record-challenging warmth into the end of this week, it will not be without problems. As AccuWeather meteorologists correctly forecasted, severe thunderstorms moved across southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois Thursday night.
It has been many months since there have been severe thunderstorms near and north of Interstate 80 in the Upper Midwest. The last time severe storms packed large hail and high winds in Wisconsin was back in October 2023. If it seems early for severe weather concerns, it is. Typically, the first regional severe weather does not occur until early March in the region rather than early February.
High temperatures trended well into the 50s and 60s over the Midwest through Thursday ahead of a push of colder, more seasonable air advancing across the northern Plains. That colder air helped bring several inches of snow to parts of the Dakotas and northwestern Minnesota.
As the leading edge of the colder air (cold front) approached, towering clouds spawned showers and thunderstorms from eastern Iowa, much of Wisconsin and northern Illinois during Thursday evening. As the storms strengthened, some of these became locally severe.
These storms produced numerous reports of hail and strong winds as well as three reported tornadoes, according to the Storm Prediction Center. If confirmed, the reported tornado that touched down near Albany, Wisconsin, will mark the first time a tornado has ever occurred in the state during February.
On Friday, the risk of thunderstorms turning severe will decrease as the cold air advances through the eastern Great Lakes and the Ohio and middle Mississippi valleys.
However, as a new storm rolls out of the Southwest states and rides along the cold front later this weekend to early next week, severe thunderstorms could erupt in the warm air zone in the southeastern United States.
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