Tornado Outbreak, Flash Flooding Expected in Texas, Oklahoma, Damaging Winds, Hail Likely in the Central Plains

weather.com meteorologists
Published: May 20, 2019

A major severe weather outbreak is expected across parts of Texas and Oklahoma on Monday with the threat of tornadoes, flash flooding, large hail and damaging winds. This includes a threat of strong tornadoes Monday from Oklahoma into western portions of Texas. The threat of severe weather will continue until at least Tuesday in the Plains and Midwest.

(NEWS: Latest News on Severe Weather Damage


Current Radar, Watches and Warnings

This multi-day severe weather outbreak began Friday and Saturday in the Plains and Midwest ahead of an initial jet-stream disturbance. Another energetic weather system will ride that jet stream into the Plains Monday, when a high-impact threat of severe storms and flooding rain is likely.

Here's a look at what to expect.

Severe Weather Forecast

Monday

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has issued a high risk of severe thunderstorms in parts of the southern Plains for Monday, noting that "this event should result in a significant threat to life and property."

Widespread severe weather expected in parts of Oklahoma and Texas.

(MORE: What a 'High Risk' Means

Threats: Strong and long-track tornadoes are likely, as well as large hail, damaging winds and flash flooding. Several rounds of thunderstorms will bring areas of flooding to parts of Oklahoma and Kansas.

Timing: Thunderstorms are expected to erupt in the Texas panhandle, northern and western Oklahoma and, perhaps, southern Kansas during the morning hours. These storms will be big hail producers, and may be capable of producing apple size hail or larger. These storms will move westward in these regions through noon, local time.

Additional thunderstorms, with increasing severity, will develop across much of central and eastern Oklahoma during the afternoon. Severe thunderstorms are also possible during this time in the eastern Texas panhandle.

A mix of scattered severe thunderstorms and lines of thunderstorms will continue to move east and northeastward through much of Oklahoma and the eastern Texas panhandle through the evening hours. These storms may be capable of producing strong tornadoes.

Severe thunderstorms and locally flooding rain are likely to persist into the overnight hours from Iowa and southeastern Nebraska into northwestern and west-central Texas. Damaging wind gusts up to 80 mph will be possible overnight in Oklahoma.


Monday's Severe Thunderstorm Forecast

Tuesday

By Tuesday, a strong area of low pressure should be in place over the central Plains.

This will push the severe threat ahead of a cold front from parts of Iowa, Missouri and Illinois into Arkansas, eastern Oklahoma and eastern Texas.

Damaging thunderstorm winds, hail, some tornadoes and flooding rain are possible in these areas Tuesday.


Tuesday's Severe Thunderstorm Forecast

Flash Flood Threat

Rounds of severe storms will produce heavy rain at times over parts of the saturated Plains into early Tuesday.

The worst threat of flooding will occur Monday and Monday night from northwestern Texas into western and central Oklahoma, Kansas, northwestern Missouri, and southeastern Nebraska.

Several rounds of heavy rain may roll through some communities Monday and Monday night. Some of these rounds of rainfall may occur after dark.

Parts of Oklahoma may see up to a foot of rainfall through early Tuesday, which will lead to flooding given recent rainfall and already saturated grounds. Computer guidance is currently unsure of exactly where the heaviest rain will occur, but confidence is high that very high rainfall totals will occur.

The combination of repetitive rounds of rainfall and the high amount of rainfall will lead to dangerous and potentially deadly situations. Please do not drive through flooded roadways.

It is entirely possible that tornadoes and other forms of severe weather may occur in flooded areas on Monday. If this occurs, move to the lowest DRY floor of your home or other sturdy structure.

(MORE: What to do when flash flood and tornado warnings are issued at the same time for your location


Rainfall Forecast Through Tuesday

Repeated rounds of heavy rain earlier this month triggered significant flooding in parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, including cities such as Houston; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Jackson, Mississippi, among others.

It was the wettest first 12 days of May on record in Dodge City, Kansas, the wettest such period since 1904 in Austin (Camp Mabry), Texas, and since 1978 in both Jackson, Mississippi, and New Orleans, according to the Southeast Regional Climate Center.

Soil moisture remains in the 99th percentile over a vast swath of the nation's midsection, and some rivers are still above flood stage from the northern Plains to the Gulf Coast.

Severe Weather Recap

Sunday, May 19

Damage was reported in Ville Platte, Louisiana, early Sunday morning from a possible brief tornado. Trees were also downed by severe thunderstorm winds in East Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Scattered severe thunderstorms Sunday afternoon and evening produced damaging winds from the southern Great Lakes and Ohio Valley to the interior Northeast. The strong wind gusts knocked down trees and power lines in parts of those regions.

Among the strongest winds was a 59-mph gust in Milwaukee Sunday afternoon. A few 60-plus-mph gusts were reported in parts of east-central Illinois, Indiana, southwestern Lower Michigan and central Pennsylvania.

Saturday, May 18

A possible tornado struck near McAlester, Oklahoma, early Saturday afternoon, downing a large tree onto a home. Significant roof damage was reported.

Storms in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex produced flash flooding early Saturday. Major street flooding was reported across Interstate 30 and Montgomery in Fort Worth, where up to 3 inches of rain had fallen by midday Saturday.

One strongly rotating supercell thunderstorm raked through San Angelo, Texas, early Saturday morning, prompting staff at the National Weather Service to take shelter as the rotation appeared to pass just north of the office. It then headed into the city of San Angelo, with an estimated population of 100,000. The storm produced an EF2 tornado.

Roofs of several homes were damaged in the Dove Creek subdivision, and one building collapsed at Boys Ranch on the city's southwestern side. Numerous homes were also damaged on the city's northern side, according to the local fire department.

This supercell was followed by drenching rain with rainfall rates in excess of 1 inch per hour, with reports of vehicles trapped in floodwaters on Southwest Boulevard and near the Angelo State University campus, according to SanAngeloLive.com.

Another tornado tore through Abilene, Texas, early Saturday morning, damaging homes on the city's southern side and blowing roofs off homes north of downtown. This tornado was given a preliminary EF2 rating by the National Weather Service.

A large tornado touched down a few hours later Saturday morning in Runnels County, northeast of San Angelo, and tracked into the city of Ballinger, damaging homes, the high school, a water tower and a baseball stadium, according to local law enforcement. Torrential rain then led to some flooding of homes in the town.

The tornado apparently continued into Coleman County, where a church roof was damaged in Silver Valley, about 35 miles south-southeast of Abilene, Texas.

An EF2 tornado touched down in Comanche County, Oklahoma, near Geronimo. Two homes were destroyed, and one person was injured, according to a county emergency manager.

Flooding was also a serious issue in parts of Oklahoma.

At least one vehicle stalled in high water in Oklahoma City, with water reportedly up to the vehicle's windows. Spencer, just east of the city, reported 2.30 inches of rain by early afternoon. At least a couple of vehicles were flooded out in Lawton, Oklahoma, requiring water rescues.

Friday, May 17

There were 38 reports of tornadoes Friday, though the exact number of actual tornadoes remains unknown at this time.

A tornado touched down near the Nebraska/Kansas border, then tracked northeastward to near McCook, Nebraska, as an EF2-strength with winds up to 120 mph early Friday evening. At least one home, several grain bins and multiple outbuildings were damaged northwest of town. The supercell went on to produce a pair of EF1 tornadoes later near Farnam and near Cozad, Nebraska, on Interstate 80, producing damage near the town's cemetery.

Another tornado damaged two homes near the towns of Bloom and Windhorst, Kansas, south and east of Dodge City. A mobile home was also overturned near Windhorst.

Hail up to 3 inches in diameter pelted Sedgwick, Colorado. Thunderstorm winds blew out a window and damaged a garage door in Schleicher County, Texas, and overturned a camping trailer, injuring one camper in Scioto County, Ohio.

Flooding was also an issue in some areas. Up to 2 feet of water flooded roads in Brookings, South Dakota, Friday night.


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