Tornado Watch Issued: Threat of Severe Thunderstorms, Heavy Rain Returns to Midwest, Plains Into Saturday Night

Linda Lam
Published: October 14, 2017

Severe thunderstorms will return to the central United States this weekend as a potent low-pressure system moves into portions of the Midwest and Plains.

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

  • tornado watch valid until 1 a.m. CDT for parts of southeastern Iowa, northern and western Illinois, far eastern Kansas and northern Missouri. This watch area includes Kansas City, Kirksville, Missouri, Quincy, Illinois, and Peoria, Illinois.
  • severe thunderstorm watch valid until 12 a.m. CDT for portions of eastern Kansas and southwestern Missouri. This watch area includes Wichita, Kansas.


Current Radar, Watches and Warnings

Minor tree damage and pea-sized hail were reported in Lawrence, Kansas, late Saturday afternoon as a severe thunderstorm rumbled through the area. There were also multiple reports of trees and power lines down, generally in northern and eastern portions of Lawrence.

Near Olivet, Kansas, a semi-truck jackknifed on U.S. Highway 75 due to strong thunderstorm winds late Saturday afternoon. No injuries were reported as a result of the incident.

Additionally, as of early Saturday evening, around 3.5 inches of rainfall was reported in the Chicago area, which has led to some areas of flooding.

Saturday morning, a FedEx truck was blown into the median in Cunningham, Kansas, due to strong winds in a thunderstorm, resulting in injury. Power poles were also blown down.

Through Saturday night, an area of low pressure will develop in the Plains, and a strong cold front associated with this system will slide eastward.

This boundary will be the focal point for thunderstorm development this weekend, and the risk for severe thunderstorms will exist, especially Saturday evening.

(MORE: Tornado Central)

A low-level jet, or area of relatively strong winds just above the surface in the lower atmosphere, is expected to strengthen into Saturday night. Upper-level winds are also expected to be strong with this system, providing moderate wind shear, or changing wind speed and direction with height.

There will also be plenty of warm, moist air, contributing to instability in the atmosphere.

(MORE: Summerlike Warmth Continues in Parts of Midwest, East)

This system will begin to slide east as a strong cold front Saturday night and will bring showers and thunderstorms to parts of the Midwest and Northeast on Sunday. In addition, cooler conditions are expected with temperatures returning to average for mid-October, at least for a couple days.

Forecast Details

Saturday Night

  • Forecast: Thunderstorms should be more numerous ahead of an advancing cold front, and the risk of severe storms will stretch from the southern Texas Panhandle northeastward to northern Illinois and into southern Michigan.
  • Threats: Damaging wind gusts and large hail are the main threats, but a few tornadoes are possible.
  • Cities: Oklahoma City | Kansas City | Davenport, Iowa | Chicago


Saturday Night's Thunderstorm Forecast

This system will begin to march eastward on Sunday through the Midwest and into the East. Showers and thunderstorms are expected from Texas to the eastern Great Lakes on Sunday, spreading into the Northeast and parts of the Southeast by Sunday night.

A few isolated severe thunderstorms are possible in the eastern Great Lakes on Sunday.


Sunday's Forecast

Locally heavy rainfall will also be a concern this weekend, especially in parts of the southern and central Plains into the Midwest, where the slow-moving front combined with ample moisture may lead to training storms, which could produce several inches of rainfall in a short period of time over the same area.

This could result in localized flash flooding, and flash flood watches have been issued from portions of eastern Iowa into southern Michigan, where several periods of heavy rainfall may occur repeatedly over the same areas.


Rainfall Forecast

Although the risk of tornadoes this weekend is small, be sure to pay attention to the forecast and any warnings that are issued. The area from Illinois into the Plains is a typical area to watch in October for tornado development.

(MORE: Second Severe Weather Season Can Cause Big Problems)

This system is a good reminder that severe thunderstorms are a serious concern during the fall and to be prepared for the possibility of severe weather.


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