Tornado Alley to wake, storms threaten 18 states | News Coverage from USA

Tornado Alley to wake, storms threaten 18 states

Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes will threaten almost 1 million square miles of 18 states in coming days as tumultuous spring weather sweeps the nation.

“Tornado Alley is certainly about to wake up,” AccuWeather Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer said.

Tornado Alley references a swath centered in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and South Dakota – parts of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Iowa, Tennessee, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Minnesota are also sometimes included.

The wild weather sets in Thursday with storms across parts of South Dakota and Nebraska to Michigan and Indiana before sprawling into a wider area Friday and the weekend. More than 40 million people live in the storm zone, which will roll as far south as New Mexico and Texas.

But there is no end in sight – the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC) highlighted a risk area for severe weather for eight straight days.

“Pretty sure it’s the first time that all days on the day 4-8 have had contours drawn,” climatologist Harold Brooks tweeted. “Product became operational in 2007.”

Alabama-based TV meteorologist James Spann also chimed in on Twitter: “Storm chasers are licking their chops… significant severe weather possible on every SPC outlook days 4-8.”

On Saturday, parts of Texas and Arkansas have the greatest chance of severe weather, the Weather Channel warned. On Sunday, key targets might be Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.

Damaging winds, large hail and a few tornadoes will all be threats from these storms.

A “storm train” roaring in from the Pacific Ocean clashing with warm moisture forecast to build over the Plains and Mississippi Valley are the culprits, AccuWeather said. A strong jet stream will prompt a clash of fronts after the storms cross the Rockies and reach the warm and humid air.

Damaging storms have already flared up this week, with homes and businesses in Orlando, Florida, battered by wind gusts above 55 mph on Tuesday.

In the West, a storm more typical of winter will bring everything from rain and thunderstorms to wind and mountain snow, AccuWeather said. The storm will make for slower-than-normal travel, ruin outdoor plans and increase the risk of flooding and damage in some communities.

“This storm will bring unusually heavy rainfall and a flooding and mudslide threat to parts of California in what is normally a dry month,” said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Jack Boston.

Up to 5 inches of rain is possible in some areas of the West. That amount of rain is “extremely out of the ordinary” for this time of year, AccuWeather said.

In the Sierra, “total snow accumulations of 12 to 18 inches, with localized amounts up to 35 inches, are expected,” the National Weather Service in Sacramento said. AccuWeather warned that “travelers through the high terrain should use extreme caution as roadways will be slippery and snow covered with lane restrictions possible.”

The storm weather follows a lengthy pattern of wet weather that, along with serious flooding in the Midwest, has brought “sizable drought relief” across the nation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported last week. Drought now covers a “near-record low” of 2.4% of the nation, Thursday’s U.S. Drought Monitor said.

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