Severe weather to intensify across central US

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Severe weather season started off with a bang in March, with dozens of tornado reports and deadly flooding striking areas from Texas to North Carolina. Forecasters say stormy weather will return to the center of the country this week after a brief lull, bringing with it the threat of more flooding and severe weather.

A break from the tumultuous weather arrived in time for the Easter weekend, allowing cities like Minneapolis and Kansas City to experience temperatures more akin to Memorial Day weekend.

But the late-spring heat will come to an end as wet weather overtakes the region early this week.

“A storm colliding with the warm, unstable air mass holding in the center of the country this weekend will allow some strong thunderstorms to fire across Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin through Monday night,” said Meteorologist Brett Rossio.

Rossio added that thunderstorms will be capable of producing hail and damaging winds.

This first storm will also bring a dose of rain to an area that has been relatively dry since the last week of March and overall through much of the winter.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, much of the northern Plains and Upper Midwest is abnormally dry with areas of severe and exceptional drought across much of North Dakota and South Dakota.

However, more rain is on the way, which could turn out to be less helpful.

A second storm is forecast to shift from the northern Rockies out into the northern and central Plains again on Tuesday, putting many of the same areas in the direct line for more rain.

“Another storm will move into and intensify across the central Plains late Tuesday through Wednesday,” Rossio said.

The second dose of rain could be more intense with rainfall amounts of 1-2 inches of rain, with localized amounts possible up to 3 inches.

Flash flooding is a concern in these areas, which could extend from rising creeks and streams to flooded fields.

Travelers in the region may be faced with flooded roadways, especially in low-lying areas, as well as heavy downpours, which could reduce visibility.

The strengthening storm on Tuesday and Wednesday will also allow severe thunderstorms to develop.

“We are in the severe weather season. It’s a quiet start to the early part of the week, for the most part, but things are going to be ramping up as we go through the week,” Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said. “The severe weather is going to start late Tuesday and Tuesday night across Kansas, Missouri and northwestern Arkansas.”

Thunderstorms are likely to fire during the afternoon hours on Tuesday, capable of producing large hail and damaging winds.

“These storms Tuesday may be rather localized but could still be dangerous and even produce an isolated tornado,” warned Rossio.

The severe weather threat is forecast to extend southeastward for the middle of the week.

“I think Wednesday will probably be one of the busiest days this week for severe weather,” Rayno said.

The threat of severe thunderstorms Wednesday through Wednesday night may extend from eastern Oklahoma and southern Iowa to the Mississippi River Valley.

All forms of severe weather are possible, including flooding downpours, hail, damaging wind gusts and likely several tornadoes, Rayno explained.

The approaching thunderstorms, whether they are severe or not, could be a hazard to motorists, especially those traveling at higher speeds on I-40 and I-55. Downpours or wind-driven rain could reduce visibility as well as lead to ponding on roadways.

As the storm moves east later in the week, the threat of widespread weather is forecast to diminish. Still, rain and thunderstorms are likely to douse portions of the Southeast and Northeast by week’s end.

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