Severe Weather Outbreak Hits Southern Plains with Tornadoes and Floods

 April 27, 2024

Severe weather is on the horizon for the Southern Plains.

Millions are under threat as the forecast includes potential life-threatening conditions across a vast area from the Southern Plains upward to the Great Lakes.

This severe storm system, which is expected to affect an estimated 55 million people, is anticipated to unleash destructive tornadoes, massive hailstones, severe thunderstorms, and significant flash flooding over 1,500 miles.

A 'Particularly Dangerous Situation' Tornado Watch underscores the severity of threats in specific areas like Oklahoma and northern Texas. Meteorologist Kendall Smith from FOX Weather highlights the gravity of the situation, "This is going to be a very dangerous day for so many people, especially if you live in southeastern Kansas, eastern and central Oklahoma, and right into north Texas just across the Red River."

Extreme Weather Patterns Pose Wide-Spread Risks

East-central Oklahoma is particularly vulnerable, with forecasts predicting intense flash flooding due to expected rainfall between 5 and 10 inches by Sunday morning. Historically, these high-risk flash flooding events are rare but carry devastating impacts.

Greg Carbin, forecast operations branch chief at the Weather Prediction Center (WPC), remarks on the severity and rarity of such forecasts. "High risks for flash flooding are only issued on about 4% of days," he noted, underlying the severity and potential for significant damage.

Flash flooding risks are not confined to Oklahoma. Cities like Oklahoma City and Tulsa are preparing for increased flooding risks due to expected rainfall. Parts of Kansas City, Des Moines, and areas near the Great Lakes are also on alert as the weather system is predicted to move northward.

Severe weather continues to develop, with the Storm Prediction Center issuing a Level 4 out of 5 risk over areas stretching from north Texas to southeastern Kansas. The conditions are ripe for the emergence of EF-3-strength tornadoes or higher, especially on Saturday afternoon.

Forecast Complexity and Emergency Preparations

The National Weather Service has taken extra measures, launching a special weather balloon that helps assess the atmospheric conditions conducive to storm development. This proactive step is part of a broader strategy to fine-tune forecasts and enhance preparedness.

Meteorologists expect major thundershowers by Saturday evening, capable of producing 2-3 inches of rain per hour. These storms could stall, exacerbating the flood risks. The weather is slated to be severe into Sunday across the Mississippi Valley, though with somewhat reduced intensity compared to Saturday.

Confidence continues to be high in a major flash flood event unfolding for portions of east-central Oklahoma with higher-end rainfall totals Saturday beginning late evening into Saturday night," forecasters with WPC wrote in an 11 a.m. CT forecast update. By Monday, conditions are expected to see a reprieve from the severe patterns that have plagued the heartland.

In conclusion, severe weather warnings have been put in place across the Southern Plains affecting millions. The combination of tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, massive hail, and life-threatening flash flooding poses significant risks.

Authorities and meteorologists continue to monitor the situation, urging residents in the affected areas to stay prepared and follow safety guidelines. The hope is for the weather to calm by the beginning of next week, allowing recovery efforts to commence where needed.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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