The Southern Plains are at risk for damaging wind gusts and very large hail on Tuesday to start a stormy week ahead.
Severe storms and heavy rain are expected to return to the Plains on Tuesday with a focus on Oklahoma and parts of North Texas.
A warm front is moving north through the area where storms are expected to rage through the afternoon, the Fox Forecast Center said. Once the front passes, it will destabilize the atmosphere, providing the spark needed for widespread thunderstorms — some of which may become severe.
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The rain that has already fallen Tuesday morning in western Oklahoma and Kansas will help determine the amount of sunshine available to spark severe weather later in the day.
“We need heating during the day. That’s an important part of this recipe. But we do have some thunder,” said FOX Weather meteorologist Britta Merwin. “The problem is that it’s kind of like nature’s alarm clock when you don’t want it to go off, when you wake up an hour before you need to. That’s the scenario we play.”
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If morning storms are widespread, they could reduce daytime heat and lead to a lower risk of severe weather, the Fox Forecast Center said. However, if storms remain confined to the western regions of the states, a line of storms may form later in the day, around lunchtime.
Storm coverage and intensity will gradually increase as storms move toward the I-35 corridor. The evening commute for millions from Wichita, Kansas, to Wichita Falls, Texas, could be disrupted. Very large hail and damaging winds will be the main threats.
“The downside to this hail is that it will fly at you anywhere from 40 mph to upwards of 80 mph,” FOX Weather meteorologist Jason Fraser said. “This means that anything you have outside, you will need to be alert for.”
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Low-level tornado threat for Tuesday’s storms in central Oklahoma
Any severe storms on Tuesday carry the potential for some tornadoes as well. It’s a low 1 out of 5 threat on NOAA’s severe weather risk scale, but Oklahoma City is right in the middle.
“You’re used to responding to tornado warnings, but sometimes it’s the beginning of the season — and this is really the beginning of the severe weather season in the fall — you kind of go out of training, and you’re not used to listening to what that possibility is,” Merwin said. “So you need to make sure you know that today is a severe weather day.”
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Heavy rain will also likely cause some flash flooding. Overall, 1 to 2 inches of rain is likely, with up to 3 inches in some locations.
Central Oklahoma is largely drought-free, but drought conditions exist along the state’s borders with Kansas and Texas. Any rain is needed north near Wichita or south toward Wichita Falls.
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The storms are just the first shot in what looks to be a fairly windy week in the Plains, with varying levels of severe weather threats each day for the first part of the weekend.