Watches Issued as Severe Storms, Flash Flooding Slide East Into the Mississippi, Ohio Valleys

Brian Donegan
Published: May 20, 2017

For a sixth straight day, severe thunderstorms – not to mention flash flooding – will pelt parts of the Midwest, but will slide just far enough east to let the central Plains recover from days of heavy rain and damaging winds.

(MORE: Tornado Central)

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has issued the following severe weather watches:

  • A severe thunderstorm watch valid until 11 p.m. CDT for portions of southern Indiana, central Kentucky and middle Tennessee. This watch area includes Louisville, Kentucky, and Bowling Green, Kentucky.
  • A severe thunderstorm watch valid until 9 p.m. CDT for parts of south-central Texas. This watch area includes Laredo, Texas.

In addition to the risk of severe storms, locally heavy rainfall will bring the risk of flash flooding through Saturday night from Texas into the South and portions of the Midwest.


Current Radar, Watches and Warnings

Early Saturday evening, a brief tornado was reported to have touched down in parts of Newton, Jasper, Benton and White counties in northwest Indiana.

Additionally, hail up to 2.50 inches in diameter was reported in the city of Rush, Kentucky, Saturday afternoon.

Friday night into Saturday morning, flash flooding was reported in portions of Oklahoma and southern Missouri. In Reagan and Pontotoc, Oklahoma, homes were evacuated due to flooding, and in Krebs, Oklahoma, water reached the doorways of homes.

The risk of severe thunderstorms and heavy rain is courtesy of an area of low pressure that is expected to slowly push into the East by Monday. Ahead of this system there will be plenty of moisture and moderate instability, which will likely allow a few severe storms to develop.

For a recap of this week's severe weather, scroll down to our recap section. Now, let's check out the forecast for more severe weather ahead.

Thunderstorm Forecast

Through Saturday Evening

  • Forecast: Scattered severe thunderstorms are possible from portions of the southern Great Lakes and Ohio Valley southward into middle Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. A few severe thunderstorms are also possible in portions of southern and central Texas.
  • Threats: Damaging winds and large hail are the main threats, but an isolated tornado is also possible.
  • Cities: Louisville | Nashville | Birmingham


Thunderstorm Forecast Through Saturday Evening

A few strong to severe thunderstorms cannot be ruled out on Sunday, mainly from the northern Gulf Coast into southern Texas. 

Heavy Rain Threat

These repeated rounds of thunderstorms this week, and previously saturated ground from record flooding in late April and early May, is setting the stage for a threat of local flash flooding and river flooding.

Some locations from central Texas into the Ohio Valley and Southeast should see at least 1 to 3 inches of rain through this weekend, with locally higher amounts where thunderstorm clusters or lines stall. 

This additional heavy rain on top of already saturated ground may trigger localized flash flooding.


Rainfall Forecast

A flash flood watch remains in effect for portions of southern Mississippi and southeastern Louisiana.

Severe Weather Recap

Friday

A strong line of thunderstorms produced straight-line wind damage and a likely tornado near Neosho in southwestern Missouri south of Joplin. Structural and tree damage was reported in Newton and Lawrence counties. 

An EF1 tornado was confirmed from Friday afternoon near Seneca, Missouri where roof damage occurred to homes, as well as to some farm outbuildings and trees.

In Jefferson City, Missouri, shingles were blown off roofs on the west side of town due to high winds. Several light poles were also damaged. 

Several roads were underwater and widespread minor flooding were reported in eastern Oklahoma from Ardmore to east of Tulsa including in the city of Seminole. 

A rain-wrapped tornado has been reported north and west of Winters, Texas. 

A funnel cloud was reported at Dyess AFB near Abilene, Texas, but no tornado was sighted. 

On Friday evening, softball sized hail was spotted near Santa Anna, Texas. Golf ball sized hail was reported north of Wichita Falls, Texas Friday afternoon and near Charlton, Texas Friday evening.

Several tornadoes were reported in south-central Kansas on Friday, but no damage was reported. 

An EF1 tornado was confirmed near Sulphur Springs, Indiana Friday afternoon, which damaged a barn and roof of a trailer.

Two-inch diameter hail was reported near Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana on Friday afternoon.

In Salem, Indiana several cars sunk in flood waters in the streets. Water rescues were performed. 

Swift water rescues occurred Friday morning in Sumner County, Tennessee, north of Nashville, where up to 7 inches of rain flooded roads in several spots in the county.

(NEWS: The Latest Flooding, Severe Weather Impacts)

One rescue involves a school bus with 17 children aboard. Sumner County emergency management reported some residents trapped in homes by flood waters.

Numerous roads were flooded across Allen County, Kentucky, and homes were flooded near Buskirk, in Pike County, Kentucky.

Early Friday morning, a squall line surged through eastern Missouri and downstate Illinois. 

Winds gusted to 68 mph at St. Louis Lambert International Airport just after 5 a.m. Several trees were uprooted or blown down in St. Louis County. Some trees were snapped off at the base in Gerald, Missouri. High winds destroyed a pair of storage sheds in Nilwood, Illinois.

Thursday

Thursday, there were approximately 20 reports of tornadoes in the Plains states, from Kansas to northwest Texas, though, fortunately, none of the tornadoes hit any cities or towns, and were largely short-lived. 

Another cluster of severe storms flared up in record heat over parts of the interior Northeast and southern Great Lakes, with numerous reports of wind damage from northern Indiana to the northern suburbs of Boston.

In all, there were roughly 340 reports of severe weather in the U.S. Thursday, the fourth busiest 24-hour period for severe weather so far in 2017

Preliminary severe weather reports - tornadoes (red), large hail, thunderstorm winds - from May 18, 2017.
(NOAA/NWS/SPC)

Oklahoma: 

A tornado was sighted by weather spotters in western Oklahoma near Cloud Chief and Corn mid-afternoon Thursday. 

Another tornado was reported near Chester, Oklahoma in northwestern Oklahoma. 

An intermittent tornado was reported by storm chasers near Duke, Oklahoma early afternoon as storms initiated. The supercell dropped baseball ball sized hail northwest of Duke, Oklahoma as the storm moved northward. 

The Oklahoma mesonet recorded a 104 mph gust in Walters early evening. 

Avard, Oklahoma recorded a 77 mph wind gust mid-evening. 

Storms dropped hen egg sized hail – or hail with a diameter of two inches – near Granite, Oklahoma.

Kansas:

Hail as large as 1.75 inches in diameter or golf ball sized hail fell early Thursday evening near Halstead. Several short-lived tornadoes also touched down near Great Bend.

A wind gust of 73 mph was reported by emergency management two miles northeast of Salina, Kansas. "Tremendous tree damage" was reported two miles west-southwest of Salina, with two-foot diameter trees being uprooted. All of the shingles were blown off homes. Several other 70 mph wind gusts were reported in the area.

Winds up to 70 mph were reported in Pratt County.

Flash flooding was reported in Rush County. This includes the towns of Timken and Otis.

Texas: 

A slow-moving tornado-producing severe was reported near May, Texas for more than an hour. The storm also produced several inches of rainfall, tennis ball sized hail and flash flooding.

Roof damage and snapped trees were caused by wind gusts of up to 75 mph were reported near Rhome.

Baseball size hail was reported just west of Wichita Falls Thursday evening. 

Tennis ball size hail took out windshields and damaging winds broke carports and canopies near Coleman, Texas.

Golf ball sized hail was reported in several storms including in Truscott, Texas south of Childress and near Crowell, Texas.

Wednesday

Significant property damage was reported Wednesday afternoon near Wisner, Nebraska, from a possible tornado. This included at least one house being shifted off its foundation.

At least four other reports of tornadoes were received by the National Weather Service on Wednesday – three in Iowa and one in Minnesota, just south of Mankato.

Additionally, golf ball-size hail was reported in Durant, Iowa, just west of the Quad Cities.

Strong thunderstorm winds caused dust storms in portions of Illinois Wednesday afternoon, including along Interstate 72 near New Berlin and along Interstate 55 near Auburn.

South of Champaign, Illinois, on Route 36 between Tuscola and Camargo, one person was killed in a car accident because of a dust storm, WCIA-TV reported. The accident involved a semi-truck and 6 cars, according to a National Weather Service storm report.

(LATEST NEWS: At Least 1 Dead as Dust Storms Cause Pileups in Illinois)

A semi-truck was blown off Interstate 35 in Warren County, Iowa, likely from straight-line winds. A semi was also blown over by strong winds in Athens, Wisconsin.

Another truck was blown off U.S. Route 20 in Winnebago, Illinois, as pictured in the tweet below.

Near Waterloo, Iowa, an estimated 6-inch diameter tree limb fell onto a car, pinning people inside on Wednesday evening.

Tuesday

According to the Storm Prediction Center, there were 26 reports of tornadoes Tuesday into early Wednesday, although several of these reports may have been the same tornado. The National Weather Service will conduct damage surveys to confirm these reports.

Preliminary tornado reports for Tuesday May 16, 2017.

A possible long-track tornado touched down near Chetek, Wisconsin, as a mobile home park suffered heavy damage, and one person was reported dead with at least 25 people injured, according to WQOW-TV.

Major damage was reported in Elk City, Oklahoma, Tuesday evening from a large tornado. Numerous homes and structures were damaged and at least one home completely collapsed. Multiple people were reported trapped in homes, according to KOCO-TV.

Another tornado touched down late Tuesday afternoon near McLean in the eastern Texas panhandle.

This storm also produced hail as large as teacups.

Teacup-size hail (3 inches in diameter) was reported in Meade, Finney and Clark counties in Kansas, as well.

Storms along the Wisconsin/Minnesota border east of Minneapolis produced hail as large as hen eggs Tuesday evening. 

Hail grew to softball size near Carter, Oklahoma and as large as 3.5 inches in diameter Tuesday evening near Erick, Oklahoma, according to storm chasers in the area.

(MORE: America Has a Distinct Hail Alley)

A small plane was flipped over by strong thunderstorm winds at Omaha-Eppley Airfield in Nebraska. The highest recorded gust at the airport was 63 mph, but the National Weather Service's Omaha office in Valley, Nebraska, gusted to 85 mph.

Monday

Monday, straight-line thunderstorm winds took roofs off buildings in the towns of Fayette and Guttenberg, Iowa.

Winds gusting up to 82 mph destroyed a shed and tossed a 30-foot travel trailer across a lawn in Winneshiek County, Iowa. Hail larger than golf balls driven by high winds damaged siding and shattered windows in Calmar and Ft. Atkinson, Iowa.

Rockford, Illinois, and surrounding towns saw hail up to golf ball size Monday evening. Some cars suffered damage in Winnebago County, Illinois.

Hail up to 2.50 inches in diameter was reported in Windsor, Wisconsin.

MORE: Severe Weather Outbreak in Plains – May 18, 2017


The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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