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April 15, 2011 / Dave Gorham

Deadly Storms Rock Winter in the North and Spring in the South

Here we are in the middle of April and it’s snowing across parts of the Northern Plains/Upper Midwest. It’s days like this I’m glad I live in the south where temperatures this afternoon in the Houston area will reach the mid 80’s. This isn’t the case across parts of the Plains where temperatures today will be 20-25ºF below average. They’ll also pick up 3-6 inches of snow with isolated heavier amounts possible.

 Snow accumulations for Friday, April 15th into Saturday, April 16th. Image: ImpactWeather StormWatch

Why are they seeing snow in the middle of April? Basically, all of the ingredients just came together. Cold air is filtering in from the north and there’s plenty of moisture available on the backside of a strong low pressure system. Locally heavy snow will be possible today from northeast Nebraska to the western UP of Michigan. Snow will increase in coverage and intensity this morning and afternoon over the eastern Dakotas and northern Minnesota, spreading eastward into northern Wisconsin and the UP of Michigan this evening into Saturday morning.

The heaviest snow is forecast to fall across the eastern Dakotas where as much as 6-10 inches will be likely, perhaps as much as 1 foot. The snow is expected to gradually end from west to east across the Northern Plains this evening and overnight and eventually across Minnesota, Wisconsin and the UP of Michigan Saturday afternoon as drier air moves into the region.

The weather is pretty active today across the eastern half of the country, too. A strong low pressure system and its associated cold front is colliding with unstable Gulf air resulting in a chance of strong to severe thunderstorms over a large part of the central and eastern U.S. through Saturday. Thunderstorms will increase in coverage and intensity throughout the day.

 Threat for severe storms from Friday, April 15 into Saturday, April 16th. Image: ImpactWeather StormWatch

The best chance of severe weather will be across Mississippi, Alabama, western Georgia and Tennessee today and tonight. There will be a better risk for isolated tornadoes over this region with areas of strong downburst winds in excess of 60 mph. Large hail up to 2 inches in diameter will also be possible with intense lightning and locally heavy rain.

 Locally heavy rain will be possible with amounts averaging from 1-3 inches and isolated higher amounts up to 5 inches. Image: ImpactWeather StormWatch

Thunderstorms will finally push eastward across the Eastern Seaboard from northern Florida to Maryland on Saturday. Isolated severe storms will be possible. The main threat will be frequent lightning, hail, damaging wind gusts and isolated tornadoes. Heavy rain can also be expected across parts of the Mid-Atlantic into the Northeast. Rainfall totals of 1-2 inches will be possible which could lead to localized flash flooding. The front will move off the coast later in the day with improving conditions on Sunday.

 Current radar as of 11:00C on Friday, April 15th. Severe thunderstorms will be likely along and ahead of the cold front. Image: ImpactWeather

Yesterday, this same storm system moved through the Plains and produced tornadoes. A tornado touched down in Tushka, Oklahoma late Thursday killing two sisters who were in their 70s. The tornado also injured at least 25 people. At least five school buildings were also damaged in the area according to Tushka Public School Principal Matt Simpson. Thankfully the students were already gone home for the day when the storm hit. In Arkansas earlier this morning, seven people were killed due to straight-line winds that hit the area and in Little Rock, a tree fell on a home killing a little boy. There are several other fatality reports in association with this powerful storm system that is currently moving across the eastern U.S. Severe storms will be possible along and in advance of this storm system as it continues moving eastward today into tomorrow.

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