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Derecho may develop, rumble across central Plains Friday night to Saturday

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
June 02, 2018, 9:14:28 AM EDT

A widespread damaging wind event, known as a Derecho, may roar across portions of the central Plains from Friday night to Saturday.

Gusts in some of the storms may reach between 50 and 60 mph, which may knock down trees, cause property damage and trigger local to regional power outages.

A storm that produced thunderstorms over the northern Rockies through Thursday night will progress eastward and focus severe weather over the northern and central Plains as the week draws to a close.

The first storms of the outbreak are projected to fire along and west of the U.S. Route 83 corridor the Dakotas and Nebraska and drift eastward Friday night.

Static Severe Northern Plains Friday Evening

"Cities such as Bismarck, North Dakota, Pierre, South Dakota, and North Platte, Nebraska, are likely to be affected into the evening hours on Friday," according to AccuWeather Lead Storm Warning Meteorologist Eddie Walker.

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The early threats from the developing storms are likely to include isolated large hail, flash flooding and strong wind gusts.

While the risk of a tornado is low, the best chance of a small number of twisters will be soon after the storms first erupt.

Storms over the Dakotas are likely to weaken later Friday night.

"As Friday night progresses, the storms will congeal into a bowing line with high winds and flooding rainfall, most likely from Nebraska to eastern Kansas and Missouri," Walker said.

Depending on exactly where this complex of storms develops and begins to advance, the major metro areas of Omaha, Nebraska, Topeka, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, may be hit hard with damaging wind gusts, large hail and flash flooding.

Static D 3 pm

It is possible that a derecho, or long-lived damaging wind event evolves from the thunderstorm complex from Friday night to Saturday.

People should be prepared for a period of continuous lightning, fallen trees, power outages and flash flooding.

Drechechos are not a common occurrence but tend to affect areas from the southern Plains to the Midwest more often than the northern Plains.

Static Derecho Occurrences

As is often the case with setups such as this, it is a wait and see as to exactly where the storms group and begin to advance.

Regardless of an official derecho or not, severe weather and the potential for damage exists over a significant part of the northern and central Plains into Saturday.

Storms with gusty winds and heavy rain may reach as far as Minneapolis and Des Moines, Iowa, before weakening or falling apart.

New storms are forecast to develop and become severe over portions of Missouri, Arkansas and southern Illinois Saturday afternoon and evening.

Severe Storms Static 5 am Sat

People spending time outdoors or on the road in the region should keep an eye out for rapidly changing weather conditions.

If you can hear thunder, you are at risk for being struck by lightning. Move indoors at the first sign of a storm.

Motorists should never attempt to drive across flooded roads as the water may be deeper than it appears and/or the road surface may be been washed out beneath.

On a positive note, the storms will bring rainfall to a region in need.

While rainfall in recent weeks has been close to average, an overall long-term rainfall deficit exists in parts of the Dakotas, Minnesota and Iowa. In part of this area, moderate to severe long-term drought is in progress.

"Farmers over the Great Plains rely on complexes of thunderstorms during the spring and summer to sustain adequate moisture in the ground for growing crops such as corn, wheat and soybeans," according to AccuWeather Lead Agricultural Meteorologist Dale Mohler.

"You want to get some rain, but certainly not flooding or severe weather," Mohler said.

Unfortunately, the nature of the large thunderstorm complexes the Great Plains are famous for tends to carry some risk of crop damage from hail, high winds and torrential rain.

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