Residents of the central United States will have to remain alert for daily rounds of severe weather through this weekend.
While most of Wednesday’s outbreak of severe weather centered on areas from northeastern Texas to Tennessee, the threat zone has shifted northward for late this week.
The rim of the sweltering heat and humidity surging northward into the central Plains will serve as the focal point for the violent thunderstorms to develop along.
On Thursday night, a cluster of severe thunderstorms developed along the Kansas-Nebraska border and unleashed wind gusts as high as 89 mph in Norton, Kansas.
This line of thunderstorms is expected to hold together as it tracks eastward on Friday.
“Depending on the intensity and duration of this complex of severe thunderstorms, it could evolve into a derecho,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
In the span of a couple of hours, there have already been multiple reports of straight-line wind gusts between 50 and 70 mph near the Kansas and Nebraska border.
It could be a slow and dangerous commute around Topeka, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, Friday morning,”Sosnowski said.
People in the Topeka and Kansas City metro areas should anticipate delays and power outages as the storms move through.
“St. Louis, Missouri, and Memphis, Tennessee, are among the cities that may be in the path of this cluster of thunderstorms with damaging winds and flooding downpours,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said.
Additional clusters of severe storms are expected to erupt later Friday across the nation’s midsection.
“The combination of hot and very humid air will set the stage for a potentially dangerous round of severe weather across the central Plains to end the week,” said AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rathbun.
Damaging winds, large hail, flooding downpours and frequent lightning strikes are expected to be the most common characteristics of these storms. Isolated tornadoes cannot be ruled out.
There is the potential for straight-line wind gusts to reach an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 80 mph, which can easily topple trees and power lines and cause structural damage. People are reminded to seek shelter inside at the first rumble of thunder and to put as many walls between you and the thunderstorm as possible.
Given the plentiful heat and humidity to fuel the storms, the severe weather dangers are expected to continue well after the sun sets.
“There is concern for another cluster of violent thunderstorms to erupt and track across parts of Illinois, southwestern Indiana and western Kentucky on Friday night,” according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Danielle Knittle.
Ahead of the storms, it is a good idea to stow away loose outdoor items, such as planters, trampolines and lightweight furniture that can become deadly projectiles during the storms.
Keep cellphones charged with the volume turned up and severe weather alerts enabled before heading to bed.