Dangerous Storms to Threaten OKC, Little Rock
By By Alex Sosnowski, senior meteorologist.
April 14, 2014, 1:08:57 AM EDT
The risk of damaging thunderstorms, including a few tornadoes, will return to the Plains on Palm Sunday.
The severe weather has the potential to develop into a dangerous situation. The storms may not only foil outdoor plans and disrupt travel in part of the Central states, but could threaten lives and cause significant property damage in some locations.
A large area spanning from Texas to Illinois and Michigan will be at risk for severe weather on Sunday.
Sunday's severe weather will follow up a rather active Saturday where severe thunderstorms dropped hail and brought damaging winds from Kansas to Michigan.
One such thunderstorm tracked across the northern suburbs of Chicago through the midday hours of Saturday.
An emergency manager in Red Oak, Iowa, reported highways were covered with ping pong- to golf ball-sized hail on Saturday evening. Hail around 2 inches in diameter was observed in a few locations as well.
Strong wind gusts blasted many towns, causing power outages and structural damage. Roof paneling was torn off a fire station in St. Johns, Mich. A trained spotter reported a large pine tree was sheared off in Johnson County, Iowa.
Although Saturday's storms were dangerous, Sunday's storms could prove to be even worse.
"The main severe weather event will be on Palm Sunday and will focus from southeastern Kansas, central and eastern Oklahoma and northeastern Texas to southern Missouri, much of Arkansas and northern Louisiana," stated AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions Meteorologist Brian Knopick.
"There is a higher risk for isolated tornadoes on Sunday in this area, along with the potential for damaging wind gusts, hail and flash flooding," Knopick continued.
Cities at greatest risk for violent storms on Sunday include Dallas and Tyler, Texas; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla.; Fort Smith, Fayetteville and Little Rock, Ark.; and Joplin and Springfield, Mo.
Gusty and drenching thunderstorms will affect other portions of the lower Mississippi Valley on Sunday night.
During Sunday into Sunday night, heavy rainfall and locally gusty winds will reach northeast of the severe weather area into portions of northern Missouri, northern Illinois, Iowa, southeastern Wisconsin and parts of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.
The number of tornadoes on Sunday will depend on the speed of cool air moving into the region.
"If cool air were to rapidly sweep in on Sunday, the risk of tornadoes will be cut significantly from Kansas to Texas," AccuWeather Severe Weather Expert Henry Margusity said. "On the other hand, if that cool air is delayed, there may be a significant number of tornadoes on Sunday over the central and southern Plains to Texas."
A quick push of cool air can still bring storms with damaging winds and hail.
"During Sunday night, the event is likely to quickly change from a tornado threat to a less dangerous strong wind gust situation," Knopick said.
Even if very few tornadoes develop with the severe weather event on Sunday, some of the storms packing high winds and hail have the potential to cause property damage and pose a safety risk. A single tornado striking a populated area can cause great destruction, multiple injuries and loss of life.
People in the alert area are advised to keep an eye out for rapidly changing weather conditions and to utilize all means of staying up to date with watches and warnings as they are issued.
AccuWeather provides a great deal of information pertaining to severe weather forecasts and advice on safety through its website, local forecasts and apps for hand-held devices.
As much cooler air invades the Plains by Monday, the potential for severe thunderstorms will shift to the Deep South.
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