Severe storms threaten Plains, Northeast Friday (with forecast video)

Wet highway with lightning in the distance.

Another round of severe storms could slam parts of the Great Plains again today, May 15, as if the region hasn’t seen enough adverse weather this week. Tornadoes, wind damage and/or large hail have been reported in places from Texas to Illinois each day. Yesterday, May 14, was the busiest, with more than 100 reports sent to the National Weather Service (NWS) from trained observers, emergency managers and the public.

Truckers run the risk of rollovers due to strong winds, roadblocks due to flash flooding, and hail damage. Minor freight flow delays are possible.

SONAR Critical Events and radar: Friday, May 15, 2020, 9 a.m. EDT; Severe thunderstorm risk zones

A frontal boundary will stretch from Texas to Maine, with waves of low pressure along the front. These waves, along with increasing wind shear aloft, will help energize and destabilize the atmosphere. This will  increase the odds for thunderstorms and severe weather in the Plains as well as the Northeast today and tonight.

The NWS defines a thunderstorm as severe if it produces any of the following:

⦁ Winds of at least 58 mph.
⦁ Hail at least 1 inch in diameter.
⦁ A tornado.

Keep in mind that even storms that stay a bit below severe limits can still be dangerous and cause trouble for drivers.

Isolated tornadoes, with scattered areas of large hail and gusty winds, are likely in the potential severe weather risk zones indicated on the SONAR Critical Events map above.

There’s a 2% to 5% chance of a tornado developing within 25 miles of any location within the risk zones. The chances for severe straight-line winds and very large hail are higher than tornado chances, especially from Texas into Oklahoma. In some spots, gusts could reach 75 mph and hail could be 2 inches in diameter or larger.

Torrential downpours will limit visibility at times, and may cause flash flooding. The NWS has issued a flash flood watch for the Houston metropolitan area, as well as parts of eastern Kansas, western Missouri, northeastern Oklahoma and northwestern Arkansas.

Additional storms, mosty non-severe, could pop up this weekend in the Plains, Midwest and Northwest.

Other notable weather

A disturbance in the Florida Straits could drench parts of the Bahamas, Florida Keys and southern Florida Peninsula today and tomorrow. Minor wind damage and storm surge are also possible. The system may turn into the first tropical/subtropical storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which officially starts June 1. If this happens, its name will be Arthur.

SONAR Critical Events and radar: Friday, May 15, 2020, 9 a.m. EDT; Potential tropical storm development

Winter-like weather may return to the western United States next week, with snowfall in the Sierra Nevada of eastern California next Monday.

Have a great day! Please stay healthy and be careful out there!