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Severe storms to impact Plains through holiday weekend

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After damaging storms blew through portions of the Plains on Friday, the threat for more severe weather will persist over the area through the weekend.

Late Friday afternoon, severe thunderstorms fired up from Texas to Oklahoma and Arkansas. These storms produced hail, some of it more than 2 inches in diameter, and damaging winds across all three states.

According to the Storm Prediction Center, there were also four reports of tornadoes associated with these storms, three of which occurred in north-central Texas, and the other which occurred in southeastern Oklahoma.

An additional tornado was reported in extreme southeastern Nebraska, as a result of another cluster of storms.

Areas impacted by severe thunderstorms on Friday, won’t get much of a breather before severe weather ramps up on Saturday and expands to cover a much larger portion of the central United States.

“As a piece of energy moves northeastward out of the Rockies and moisture moves northward on Saturday, severe weather will be possible,” AccuWeather meteorologist Ryan Adamson said. “Development of thunderstorms is most likely by the mid- to late-afternoon hours.”

The severe threat on Saturday will likely develop in two sections. One section will encounter widespread severe weather, while the other section will deal with severe weather that is more isolated in nature.

The more widespread area of severe weather on Saturday will include portions of the northern and central Plains. Storms are forecast to fire up from southwestern North Dakota, to western Nebraska, and push northeastward through Saturday night.

“The most likely threat will initially be large hail,” Adamson said. “However, as the storms become more of a cluster, damaging winds will become more of a risk, with an AccuWeather Local StormMax&trade of 80 mph.”

The other area of severe weather set to impact the Plains on Saturday will encompass an area from Kansas to Texas. Storms that develop across the western portion of Kansas and Oklahoma, will be rather localized, or spotty, in nature.

The associated severe weather risks with each of these areas will be the same, with large hail, heavy downpours, damaging winds and even an isolated tornado or two possible.

“Since the day is likely to start out dry with sunshine across these areas, residents will need to make sure they stay aware of the weather throughout the day, especially if they are spending any time outdoors,” said AccuWeather meteorologist Renee Duff.

As if the majority of the Plains under some sort of a severe weather risk wasn’t enough, AccuWeather meteorologists say portions of the Midwest will also have to brace for hazardous weather on Saturday.

“A low pressure system over eastern Nebraska is expected to advance eastward and strengthen Saturday. As this storm and associated warm front moves through central Iowa and into northern Illinois, it will bring the threat for heavy thunderstorms from the afternoon into this evening,” AccuWeather meteorologist Nicole LoBiondo said.

As a result of rounds of heavy rain across the Midwest in recent weeks, soil across the area will likely remain too saturated to have the capacity to deal with any heavier rainfall without prompting flash flooding conditions.

From May 14-17, Chicago O’Hare International Airport recorded 7.88 inches of rainfall, 214 percent of the average monthly rainfall for the entire month of May. The metro will be especially prone to flash flooding damage as many of the hardest-hit areas are still recovering after the last flooding event.

In addition to flash flooding, these heavy thunderstorms can also produce damaging wind gusts with an AccuWeather Local StormMax&trade of 60 mph and even an isolated tornado or two, LoBiondo cautioned.

Sunday, the threat for heavy thunderstorms will ramp up again over portions of the Plains. Areas from South Dakota and Minnesota, south to Oklahoma and Texas, will be drenched by storms from late Sunday through Sunday night.

The main threats with these storms will be torrential rainfall that can produce flash flooding. However, a few storms on Sunday may become locally severe and produce damaging winds and hail.

Cities including Sioux Falls, South Dakota Des Moines, Iowa Wichita, Kansas and Oklahoma City will all be at risk for flooding rainfall on Sunday.

Unfortunately, residents across the central U.S. hoping for sunny and beautiful weather for their Memorial Day picnics and outdoor recreation will be disappointed.

Stormy weather will persist from the southern Plains to the Midwest on Monday, with many areas receiving rounds of showers and thunderstorms.

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