Severe thunderstorm, tornado risk to return to central US prior to mid-March

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
March 11, 2019, 3:18:45 AM EDT

A new wave of severe thunderstorms, some which may bring tornadoes, are expected to erupt over the southern and central Plains later Tuesday to Wednesday.

March can bring wild weather over the central United States as storms from the Pacific Ocean get their second wind after traversing the Rockies. Warm, moist air is drawn in from the Gulf of Mexico, while cold air continues to flow southward from Canada.

A storm along the California coast is forecast to move inland over the Southwest on Monday.

Where rain does not dampen the ground, enough wind can kick up to create areas of blowing dust and an increased wildfire danger over the southern High Plains.

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Part of the area from southern Colorado to western and central Texas has received little rain and snow over the winter and this has resulted in building drought conditions.

"Isolated stronger thunderstorms with hail and damaging winds can erupt across New Mexico, including around Albuquerque, on Monday afternoon," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Alyson Hoegg. "That can be followed by a more significant severe weather event starting later Tuesday as the storm strengthens."

Storms are likely to form and become severe with damaging winds, large hail and frequent lightning strikes across eastern New Mexico and western Texas late in the day on Tuesday.

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It is possible that a few tornadoes are spawned in the strongest storms. However, the exact number of tornadoes this far out will be dependent on the exact profile of the atmosphere.

"While the downpours can trigger flash flooding and create another hazard for motorists, rain will help to ease the abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions across the southern High Plains," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.

The storms are then likely to advance across the central parts of Texas, Oklahoma and southwestern Kansas during Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, the severe thunderstorm and tornado risk may shift eastward and extend from northeastern Texas northward to eastern Oklahoma and Kansas, and eastward to Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and the western parts of Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky, as well as southern Illinois.

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There is a chance the severe weather may continue to advance eastward later in the week.

Even in the absence of severe storms, high winds with gusts of 60-80 mph will threaten the southern Plains late Tuesday into Wednesday.

"The strongest winds are expected to develop across eastern New Mexico and western Texas on Wednesday," Pydynowski said. "Communities that escape severe weather damage and power outages late Tuesday could be facing these problems on Wednesday."

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Dangerous crosswinds can overturn high-profile vehicles planning to travel on interstates 25 and 27, as well as other north-south highways.

Farther to the north, the same storm is expected to bring a swath of heavy snow and blizzard conditions from parts of the central Rockies to the Canada border.

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