After a general lull in severe weather across the plains and midwest to begin May, action across the plains has picked up this week.  More is expected today, but the big question is will it continue?  Here we will examine the past, present, and future severe weather across the Great Plains and Midwest.

The Past-Thursday, May 18th

Yesterday saw nearly 300 damaging wind reports to the Storm Prediction Center, along with over 200 damaging hail and 22 tornado reports.  The three day total since Tuesday has risen to 1217 preliminary reports.  Severe storms on Thursday tore through the southern plains of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, stretching as far east as Maine.

A summary of the preliminary storm reports for Thursday, May 18th.

Warm and humid air has been funneling its way northward from the gulf, due to a pronounced ridge over the center of the country.  This combination, along with the right winds and source of lift, has made for multiple rounds of severe weather.

The Present-Friday, May 19th

Todays focus falls mostly upon the Southern Plains, with a small region into Southern Ohio.  A line of thunderstorms is pushing through each region, with the South Plains appearing more favorable for tornadoes.  The reason for this difference is not due to the instability, it is due to the wind profiles.

Both active regions of severe weather can be seen on the national radar in the southern plains and Southern Ohio.

A special upper air sounding taken in northern Texas shows favorable horizontal and vertical wind shear, a key ingredient that is missing in another sounding taken in Southern Ohio.  Nevertheless, high rainfall rates will accompany both systems, along with the potential for damaging hail and winds.  Once night comes, the general threat will slowly diminish into early morning hours for areas to the east of these regions of interest.

The Future-Saturday May 20th

For tomorrow, the system begins to move east across the Mississippi and Ohio River.  Low pressure off the Colorado Rockies will trek northeast through the Great Lakes, bringing a cold front with it.  Storms left over from today will be overtaken by the cold front.  More storms then fire along the front during the evening.  The primary threat will be high winds due to the linear nature of the system.

The Storm Prediction Center currently has a Slight Risk of severe weather issued for regions along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers Saturday.

After the cold front pushes through, what happens next?  High pressure moves in to begin next week, allowing the dust to settle on what will go down as an active week for severe weather across in the Untied States.

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About Kevin Thiel

Kevin is a Meteorology Major and Mathematics Minor at Ohio University, with an interest for thunderstorm electrification and research. On campus, he serves as President of the AMS Student Chapter, along with Webmaster and Forecaster for the campus atmospheric lab. This past summer, Kevin interned at the National Weather Service office in Miami, Florida, using lightning and radar data to study severe thunderstorm potential. One day, Kevin hopes to enter into field of academia and research, or become a forecaster with the Storm Prediction Center.
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