Tornadoes possible in mid-Mississippi and Ohio Valleys; rains flood Chicago

tornado-watches-ec Tornado watches in effect as of 11:30 a.m. EDT

A potent spring cold front with a violent line of thunderstorms is sweeping across the country’s mid-section.  The weather system, which deluged Chicago with over 5 inches of rain, has prompted several tornado watches from Arkansas to Michigan.

The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center has targeted Indiana and bordering areas of adjacent states as having the highest risk of destructive storms.  It has issued a rare “particularly dangerous situation” (PDS) tornado watch, in effect through 5 p.m.

SPC highlights the following threats:

* SEVERAL INTENSE TORNADOES LIKELY
* SEVERAL SIGNIFICANT DAMAGING WIND GUSTS TO 80 MPH POSSIBLE
* A FEW VERY LARGE HAIL EVENTS TO 2 INCHES IN DIAMETER POSSIBLE

Indianapolis and South Bend are major population centers included in this PDS watch.

A much broader area of east central U.S. also faces the possibility of damaging winds, tornadoes, and hail.  The following cities could be impacted, according to SPC: Memphis, Nashville, Detroit, and Louisville.

The probabilities of damaging winds, tornadoes, and large hail within 25 miles of a point in the shaded areas. Hatched areas indicate the potential for destructive winds and large tornadoes (SPC) The probabilities of damaging winds, tornadoes, and large hail within 25 miles of a point in the shaded areas. Hatched areas indicate the potential for destructive winds and large tornadoes (SPC)

A volatile mix of atmospheric ingredients has set the stage for today’s outbreak. The jet stream has carved a massive trough through the Plains allowing cold air to crash southward out of Canada.  Ahead of this trough, very warm, moist air is surging north from the Gulf of Mexico towards the Great Lakes.  The transition zone between these contrasting airmasses is primed for severe weather.

 

The weather system has a history of producing violent storms. On Thursday, there were reports of 2 tornadoes, 50 instances of damaging winds, and 113 reports of large hail.

Yesterday into this morning, as multiple lines of storms rumbled through Chicago, they deposited copious amounts of flooding rain.

Writes the Chicago Tribune:

….as 5 inches of rain closed the Edens, Eisenhower and Kennedy expressways during the morning rush as waves of thunderstorms raked across the Chicago area.

 

The storms also forced the cancellation of more than 300 flights and closed hundreds of schools in the Chicago area. Metra reported stopped trains and delays on nearly every line. Some evacuations have begun along the Des Plaines and Fox rivers.

Wunderground’s Jeff Masters reports Chicago’s Ohare Airport had received 5.85″ as of 10 am CDT.

“…the 3.84″ of rain that has fallen so far today is the heaviest rain ever recorded in a calendar day in the Windy City so early in the year,” he writes.

USA Today reports a person was injured after a sinkhole on the southeast side of Chicago swallowed 3 cars.

The storm system shifts to the East Coast Friday, bringing the potential for heavy rains and some gusty winds, although widespread violent thunderstorms are not expected.

Jason is currently the Washington Post’s weather editor. A native Washingtonian, Jason has been a weather enthusiast since age 10.
Continue reading
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Local