Around 50 million people under threat of severe weather, schools in Tulsa to be shut for the day
Even though the risk of severe storms appears to be low, the storms do cover a large population where 18 million people have already been affected
Around 50 million people are currently under threat of hail, heavy rain, strong winds, and isolated tornadoes this week as the National Weather Center spotted several storms moving east across the country. The storms spread across the Great Lakes/Ohio Valley area and the majority of the Northeast on Sunday, May 19. Even though the risk of severe storms appears to be low, the storms do cover a large population.
CNN reported that a severe thunderstorm watch will be in effect until 10 pm on Sunday for parts of New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont. Another line of thunderstorms from the same system soaked Northern Indiana and southern Michigan. A total of 18 million people were affected in all and around six million people are under a flash flood watch in the central plains.
Since Friday morning, there have been at least 38 tornadoes been reported in Kansas, Nebraska and Texas. Saturday saw another 11 tornadoes as well as 150 wind reports and 33 hail reports. Ashleigh Hensch, an emergency management spokesperson in Comanche County, Oklahoma, told CNN that a tornado destroyed two homes on Saturday morning.
CNN affiliated KTXS reported that another tornado in Abilene, Texas, caused "widespread damage". According to CNN affiliate WJTV, a tornado overturned a semi-truck on a highway in Mineola, Kansas, with the driver still inside. CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam said that this is peak tornado season "with an average of 268 tornadoes countrywide during the month of May".
According to Van Dam, the threat of flooding will remain at a high throughout the week with rainfall expected to fall anywhere from one to five inches. Van Dam said: "The heavy rain will impact areas that have received significant amounts of rain within the past several weeks. The ground remains very saturated and may elevate the flood threat."
The NWS has also stated that Missouri is expected to see heavy rain in recently saturated soils and may have increased the flood potential. The center also said that the Mississippi River had been above the flood stage for 133 days in a row at Natchez, 90 days and Vicksburg and 89 at Greenville, which broke the record for some of the longest-lasting floods in years.
In early May this year, the Mississippi broke the July 9, 1993, record after very heavy rainfall triggered flooding from Minnesota all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Rock Island, Illinois, flood gauge in 1993 reached a max of 22.63 feet but that level this month reached 22.64 feet.
Van Dam has said that Monday will see the greatest risk of severe weather as a cold front was seen moving from the West into the Plains. The Panhandle of Texas and Central Oklahoma will see a moderate risk of severe weather at a level four out of five. According to the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center, there is a threat of strong, violent tornadoes, very large hail, and damaging winds.
KJRH has reported that Tulsa Public Schools has announced schools will be canceling classes for the day in preparation for the severe weather that is about to hit the area.
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