Severe weather to jolt central US through the weekend

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Some storms could bring hail, tornadoes, local flash flooding and strong wind gusts.

After just a few instances of severe thunderstorms over the past several days, meteorologists say that a much larger area of the country could endure volatile weather to end the week as well as during the weekend.

The first episode of severe weather is likely to develop ahead of a cold front from western Manitoba in Canada southward through the central Dakotas very late Friday afternoon. These storms, especially when they initially form, could contain all hazards including hail, tornadoes, local flash flooding and strong wind gusts. As the storms form into a line and move farther east Friday night, flooding and damaging winds will become the primary risks.

Bismarck and Fargo, North Dakota, and Pierre, South Dakota, will be some of the locations at risk with this first round of storms.

Unfortunately, the portions of the Dakotas could again be at risk of severe thunderstorms late Saturday and into Saturday night. However, the threat will also extend farther south.

“While the threat will be mainly confined to the Dakotas late Friday into Friday night, it will then shift southward into much of Nebraska as well as South Dakota and southern parts of North Dakota late Saturday into Saturday night,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski.

It appears that the threat of tornadoes is very low with Saturday’s severe weather event, but the storms will still pose other risks.

“Those with outdoor plans late Saturday into Saturday night in cities such as Rapid City, South Dakota, and Scottsbluff, Nebraska, will have to be prepared to move indoors quickly as storms could produce heavy downpours, dangerous lightning and damaging wind gusts,” added Pydynowski.

All thunderstorms, even ones that are not particularly strong, contain lightning. At the first sign of threatening skies, shelter inside a sturdy building is the best course of action. If thunder is heard, lightning is close enough to strike.

Anyone driving in the area will also need to take it slow.

“Travel along I-90 could be tricky at times late Friday into Friday night and then again late Saturday into Saturday night as heavy, blinding downpours will greatly reduce visibility, and strong wind gusts in thunderstorms could make travel difficult for high-profile vehicles such as RVs and tractor-trailers,” said Pydynowski.

To round out the weekend, some areas may have a third day of severe thunderstorms. However, the threat will also begin to shift eastward.

“By late Sunday into Sunday night, although the threat for severe storms will continue for the eastern half of South Dakota, it will abate across much of Nebraska as the core of the severe storms shifts eastward into parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and even northwestern Illinois,” he said.

This may mean larger cities such as Des Moines, Iowa, and Minneapolis will need to keep an eye to the sky on Sunday.