The first week of May is beginning quite active on the severe weather front, with hundreds of millions of Americans across the eastern half of the nation at risk for dangerous thunderstorms.
The severe weather dangers Monday and Tuesday follow an outbreak of tornadoes across Mississippi to end the weekend, including one large nighttime tornado that struck the city of Tupelo. Potent storms with hail, damaging winds and a few tornadoes were also reported across Colorado’s Front Range and the central Plains Sunday.
Forecasters expect the storms early this week to pose similar hazards over much broader and even more populated areas.
Even outside of the areas that AccuWeather meteorologists are zeroing in on for more concentrated severe weather risks, any thunderstorm across the Central and Eastern states could turn heavy and gusty on the local level early this week.
Several disturbances high in the atmosphere, coupled with warm, humid air out of ahead of these systems, will be the catalyst for the widespread downpours and thunderstorms anticipated.
Late Monday into Monday night, a system ejecting out of the Rockies is expected to fire up severe thunderstorms from eastern Oklahoma into southern Missouri and northern Arkansas. The threat is forecast to extend into the lower Ohio Valley.
“These severe thunderstorms are expected to bring large hail, intense lightning, flash flooding and damaging wind gusts, with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 80 mph,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Nicole LoBiondo said, adding that tornadoes would also be possible.
AccuWeather meteorologists are urging residents to make sure they have a way to receive severe weather warnings before heading to bed, as the risk of severe weather is expected to continue well after dark.
Thunderstorms are also forecast to bubble up through most of the Southeast to begin the week, and a few of these could turn severe on the localized level. A swath from Alabama to the Carolinas may be at greatest risk for locally damaging storms Monday.
Experts say yet another round of dangerous weather will erupt Tuesday.
A surge of very humid air expanding northward through the Gulf states will collide with a storm moving up along a front from east Texas to the Ohio Valley. This will result in an outbreak of thunderstorms that will likely linger well into Tuesday night, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.
The thunderstorms are expected to target cities such as Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; Nashville; Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama; Atlanta; and potentially more northern areas as well such as Louisville, Kentucky; Charleston, West Virginia; and Pittsburgh. Tupelo and other Mississippi towns that were devastated by Sunday’s tornadoes will be right in the middle of the threat zone.
Storm hazards will include hail, flooding downpours, tornadoes and damaging, straight-line wind gusts with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 75 mph, according to LoBiondo.
“There will also be pockets of flash flooding, especially in low-lying and poor drainage areas, but fortunately the storms will be moving along at a decent clip, which will limit the duration of intense rainfall for most areas,” Anderson said.
Areas of the South that experienced a very wet month of April will be at greatest risk of experiencing flash flooding issues.
Those with travel plans on the road and in the air across the Central, Eastern and Southern states can anticipate a slow-go amid the stormy pattern.
Even without any flooding problems, the torrential downpours within the storms can lead to problems for motorists in the form of reduced visibility on the interstates as well as an increased risk of hydroplaning.
By the middle of the week, there may be a localized risk for severe weather along the mid-Atlantic and Southeast coasts before the front sweeps offshore.
A push of cooler air into the Midwest, Northeast and even part of the South will help to suppress severe thunderstorm activity, at least temporarily, late this week.
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