As residents across the South and the East Coast continue to clean up from the last volley of severe storms over the weekend, a new round is on its way. On Wednesday, storms will erupt in the southern and central Plains before barreling into the East Coast by Friday.
Each day, storms will be capable of producing tornadoes, damaging winds and, particularly in the Plains, large hail.
Widespread significant rainfall is also possible, with many areas picking up at least one to three inches. This will exacerbate ongoing flooding in many river basins. When the storm reaches the East Coast on Friday, it will draw a tremendous amount of moisture into the Mid-Atlantic, posing flooding concerns.
Several strong disturbances are expected to come together to create this storm system. Given the intricate dynamics involved, there is still potential for some change to the forecast in the days ahead.
Here’s a day-by-day breakdown of expectations …
Wednesday: At risk — southern Plains to the Mississippi Valley
The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center has issued an “enhanced” risk (Level 3 of 5) for much of northeast Texas and parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas for Wednesday. A large “slight” risk (Level 2 of 5) surrounds the enhanced zone, from Iowa to the Mexico border.
A strong disturbance in the jet stream exits the southern Rockies and enters the Plains during the day Wednesday. It will eventually help a zone of low pressure develop, initiating rain and thunderstorms in several areas.
While this low-pressure zone may not strengthen as rapidly as recent ones, it is still expected to generate intense storms. On Wednesday, Dallas and Oklahoma City may be affected.
The Storm Prediction Center is highlighting the potential for “very large hail” in Wednesday’s storms, exceeding two inches in diameter. Damaging wind gusts and a few tornadoes are possible, as well.
An area focused on Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas and surrounding regions also faces the risk of heavy rainfall. A widespread one to three inches is probable in much of eastern Texas northward to eastern Kansas and Missouri.
Thursday: At risk — Mississippi Valley to the southeast
On Thursday, the focus of stormy weather is likely to occur from the northern Gulf Coast and mid-South into parts of the Mississippi and Tennessee valleys, where there’s a slight risk for severe storms.
“Thunderstorms will likely be ongoing at the beginning of [Thursday] … along a cold front gradually pushing eastward/southeastward,” the Storm Prediction Center wrote in its most recent update.
Throughout the day Thursday and into Friday, two disturbances are predicted to merge, intensifying the storm system.
How much and where severe weather occurs Thursday will depend on the specifics of this merger. Regardless, strong high-altitude winds will promote big gusts at ground level. It’s also probable that a number of tornadoes will spin up.
A large chunk of real estate in this zone is also at risk for heavy rain. Some flood-prone spots could see four or five inches.
Friday: At risk — southeast and Mid-Atlantic
The threat shifts to the East Coast on Friday, with an area from Florida to Washington seeing an elevated risk for severe thunderstorms. By this point, disturbances will have merged, and this storm system will be well-established and powerful.
Given the storm’s impressive dynamics by the time it hits the East Coast, all severe weather hazards are possible Friday, including strong winds, hail, tornadoes and flash flooding. The storm is also expected to slow down, potentially increasing the heavy rain and flooding risk — especially in the Mid-Atlantic.
“I see real potential for several inches of rain, perhaps some zones of three or four inches locally,” Capital Weather Gang severe weather expert Jeff Halverson wrote in an email.
The risk of damaging wind gusts from severe thunderstorms and possible tornadoes may be highest from the Virginia Tidewater into the Carolinas, Halverson said.
Because this part of the forecast is the furthest out and details are difficult to unpack, it’s certainly worth checking back for updates.