Memorial Day weekend storms rage across central US

Mary Gilbert

Rounds of severe weather blew through the central United States beginning last Friday and continuing through the weekend.

Late Friday afternoon, severe thunderstorms fired up from Texas to Oklahoma and Arkansas. These storms produced hail, some of it more than 2 inches in diameter, and damaging winds across all three states.

According to the Storm Prediction Center (SPC), there were also several tornadoes reported, with most of them occurring near the Red River Valley.

An additional tornado was reported in extreme southeastern Nebraska, as a result of another cluster of storms.

Areas impacted by severe thunderstorms on Friday did not get much of a breather before severe weather ramped up again on Saturday and expanded to cover a much larger portion of the central U.S.

The severe threat on Saturday developed in three sections. The first area of severe weather developed from western Oklahoma through western Texas Saturday afternoon and continued through the overnight hours.

Multiple reports of large hail emerged from Texas on Saturday evening. According to the SPC, hail upwards of 3 inches in diameter developed and smashed multiple car windshields in Silverton, Texas.

Dozens of additional hail reports peppered western and central Texas, along with a handful of damaging wind reports. There was even one report of a tornado in Garza County, Texas.

By Saturday evening, severe weather had developed in a secondary area that encompassed the Dakotas and Nebraska. Storms blew through the area, prompting dozens of reports of damaging winds and hail. A weather station in Broken Bow, Nebraska, even recorded a wind gust of 86 mph.

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Also by Saturday evening, a third area of severe weather had developed, this time in the Midwest.

Saturday evening, tornadoes spread rapidly through Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin, placing over 15 million at risk for tornadoes.

By Saturday evening, 14 tornado reports were received by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) across eastern Iowa, northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.

The rounds of heavy rain across the Midwest in recent weeks has left the soil across the area soggy and too saturated to have the capacity to deal with any heavier rainfall without prompting flash flooding conditions.

From May 14-17, Chicago O'Hare International Airport recorded 7.88 inches of rainfall, 214 percent of the average monthly rainfall for the entire month of May.

Sunday, severe thunderstorms ramped up across the High Plains yet again.

By Sunday night, storms producing hail and damaging winds had been reported in eastern Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and northwest Louisiana. One tornado was even sighted in southern Nebraska.

Unfortunately, residents across the central U.S. hoping for sunny and beautiful weather for their Memorial Day picnics and outdoor recreation will be disappointed.

Stormy weather will persist from the southern Plains to the Midwest from the holiday into the middle of the week.

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