Record-challenging heat and severe thunderstorms aim for Midwest

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Buckle up, Midwest.

A week of multiple severe weather events, plus ongoing excessive heat, will plague the region this week. The weather combo will arrive along with the potential for intense winds through Wednesday night in major metropolitan areas.

Severe thunderstorms are anticipated to deliver the first blows of the week through Monday night. Flooding downpours, hail, damaging wind gusts and isolated tornadoes in areas from the eastern part of the Dakotas to northern Michigan are anticipated.

Cities most likely to be impacted include Duluth, Minnesota, and Marquette, Michigan, but forecasters expect these storms will largely dodge the major cities of Minneapolis and Chicago until midweek.

"A ridge has been in place across the Rockies this past weekend, bringing excessive heat from the Northwest through the northern High Plains," said AccuWeather Storm Warning Meteorologist Joseph Bauer.

A ridge is an area of high pressure in the atmosphere, which can allow heat to build across a given region. In this case this high pressure area extends through multiple layers of the atmosphere.

The flow of air around the northern part of this high pressure area will help create steering breezes that guide rounds of thunderstorms along a northwest to southeast path over the Upper Midwest into Wednesday night.

"The ridge will move east into the central Plains by midweek, bringing that excess heat more into the Upper Midwest," said Bauer.

This heat dome has already allowed several cities to tie records over the weekend, such as Billings, Montana, which hit 98 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, and Riverton, Wyoming, which hit 96 F on Sunday.

Temperatures in several cities from Bismarck, North Dakota, to Rapid City, South Dakota, could reach into the triple digits during the late afternoon hours through Tuesday.

"A cold front will push into the area of excess heat on Wednesday afternoon across portions of Minnesota where the atmosphere will be ripe for storm development," Bauer said.

The high heat and humidity will help fuel more storms that are triggered by the front as the air cools slightly across the region during Tuesday and Wednesday.

"Storms are expected to develop, and with the cold front moving southeastward through the overnight into the western Great Lakes, storms may congeal into a line and strengthen as they move through Wisconsin, northeast Iowa, northern Illinois, southwest Michigan and northern Indiana," said Bauer.

This time, the storms will set their sights on even more major cities. The hefty line of storms can bring hail and brutally high winds to cities such as Minneapolis and Duluth, Minnesota, Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, Chicago and Detroit from Tuesday to Wednesday night.


"As this line gets going, winds aloft are mainly out of the same direction, which increases the likelihood for powerful straight-line winds," said Bauer.

A straight-line wind is a term used to define any thunderstorm wind that is not associated with rotation and is used mainly to differentiate from tornadic winds, according to the National Severe Storms Laboratory. If high winds move in a wide swath, they can do considerable damage, often similar to a tornado.

There is even the potential during this event for the severe winds to run along a continuous 240-mile-long path, called a derecho.

"Gusts of 80 mph are forecast with locally higher gusts possible if the line can materialize," Bauer said.

The AccuWeather StormMax™ wind gust potential with the storms on Wednesday is rated at 100 mph.

Such intense winds can cause travel delays and wind damage. With these storms impacting such a highly-populated area after dark, AccuWeather forecasters urge residents to ensure they have a way to receive severe weather warnings before going to sleep on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

"We still have a few days before this event and things can change, but at the moment, the setup is looking favorable for overnight severe storms," said Bauer.

Keep checking back on and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier, Spectrum, FuboTV, Philo, and Verizon Fios.

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