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AccuWeather Forecasters Warn of Midwest Tornado Outbreak Brewing Tuesday

 
  More than 40 million people live in the risk zone for severe thunderstorms on May 21.   
 

May 20, 2024

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AccuWeather Global Weather Center – May 20, 2024

 

Destructive tornadoes, large hail, flash flooding and damaging wind gusts are all expected in yet another severe weather outbreak looming for the Midwest this week. 

 

Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday night will be the most volatile time frame for damaging thunderstorms that could threaten life and property.  

 

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AccuWeather expert meteorologists issued a ‘high risk’ for severe thunderstorms Tuesday, centered over northeastern Missouri, eastern Iowa, southeastern Minnesota, southwestern Wisconsin, and northwestern Illinois.  

 

“We feel very confident because of a unique combination of parameters setting up. We’re concerned about damaging winds and tornadoes,” said AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno. “No weather event is the same, but this does have the same kind of earmarks as the severe weather threat back on April 26. There were more than 100 tornadoes reported that day.” 

 

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There is also a ‘moderate risk’ of thunderstorms in northeastern Oklahoma, eastern Kansas, western Michigan, and northwestern Indiana on Tuesday.  

 

“Plentiful moisture from the Pacific Ocean is being drawn to the north. That is going to combine with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and a very potent spin in the atmosphere. This is going to head up right into the Plains, this is what spells trouble,” explained AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jon Porter. “Right on that boundary between that dry air and very moist air, that’s where there is going to be a lot of instability, and that’s where we’re going to get some very significant storms.” 

 

Severe thunderstorms on Tuesday could impact travel at major hubs including airports in Chicago, Minneapolis, Kansas City, and St. Louis. 

 

“Storms will race east Tuesday evening. The individual storms will congeal into a line with damaging wind gusts. We expect some wind gusts to top 90 miles per hour. There will also be a risk for embedded tornadoes Tuesday night. This is a dangerous setup,” said Porter. “The mid-level winds will be coming in from the south and west, the low-level winds will be coming in from the south and east. The change in wind speed and direction at different heights in the atmosphere provides the setup for yet another tornado outbreak. This is a very concerning setup for tornadoes.” 

 

Porter says there are growing public safety concerns about the location and timing of this latest severe weather threat.  

 

"With such a volatile atmospheric setup favoring severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, AccuWeather meteorologists are increasingly concerned that the situation can escalate to a tornado outbreak, which may even include some particularly intense or long-track tornadoes,” said Porter. “Such tornadoes and widespread damaging thunderstorm winds can be especially dangerous and result in significant property damage, especially if a populated area is struck. The time period of greatest concern is Tuesday lasting into much of Tuesday night.  Tornadoes occurring at night are especially concerning because many people are sleeping.  In fact, tornadoes at night are two times more likely to produce fatalities than tornadoes at other times of the day.” 

 

The severe weather threat will push east on Wednesday, with the threat of hail and isolated tornadoes stretching more than 1,700 miles, from Austin, Texas to Syracuse, New York.  

 

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AccuWeather expert meteorologists say there will be some risk for severe thunderstorms that could cause flooding Thursday in parts of the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, and New England.  

 

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“AccuWeather meteorologists recommend people in the risk areas to make sure they have multiple ways of getting weather warnings so they can quickly move to safe shelter if faced with an immediate threat. Please don’t let notification fatigue set in – take every warning seriously and promptly move to safe shelter,” said Porter. "Please remind people you know who live in the affected areas about the severe weather risk. People live busy lives, and sometimes reaching out by phone, text, email, or social media to let a friend or family member know about the risk for severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and flash flooding could help save their life.”  

 

 Tornado Activity In The U.S. Trending Above Historical Average 

 

This threat of tornadoes in the Midwest on Tuesday is the latest in a series of severe weather outbreaks this spring, claiming lives and causing billions of dollars worth of damage and economic loss across the United States.  

 

There have been more than 830 preliminary reports of tornadoes so far this year, well above the historical average of 626 tornadoes at this time of year.  

 

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Texas, Ohio, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma have the highest number of tornado reports in the nation as of May 20.  

 

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Roughly 2,600 filtered storm reports have been filed across the United States so far this month, compared to 1,707 filtered storm reports at this point last year.  

 

AccuWeather expert meteorologists say 2024 has been a year with relentless rounds of impactful severe weather. Severe storms and tornadoes in the Houston area on May 16 caused $5-7 billion in damage and economic losses, according to a preliminary estimate from AccuWeather.  

 

AccuWeather forecasters encourage families and businesses to stay connected to receive forecast updates and severe weather alerts this week. People should also be prepared for threats of extreme weather later this year. The official start of the Atlantic Hurricane season is now less than two weeks away.  

 

Additional AccuWeather Resources:

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