Christmas severe weather episode may threaten lives from Oklahoma to South Dakota.
A storm more typical of March could threaten lives and property with the onset of severe weather over part of the central United States during Christmas 2016.
The severe weather threat includes the potential for a few tornadoes.
South and east of blizzard conditions, a surge of warm air over the central and southern Plains will increase the risk for violent thunderstorms during the afternoon and evening hours on Christmas.
“People from the central Plains and middle Mississippi Valley to the central Plains will need to keep an eye out for rapidly changing weather conditions,” according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rossio.
Thunderstorms could become strong enough to threaten lives and property. There is a likelihood of sporadic power outages and secondary road closures due to fallen trees and high water.
Cities at risk for severe weather include Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma; Wichita and Topeka, Kansas; Kansas City and Joplin, Missouri; Des Moines, Iowa; Omaha, Nebraska; and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Gusty storms could extend as far south as Dallas.
“The first storms that erupt will bring the potential for large hail and isolated tornadoes during Christmas afternoon,” Rossio said. “The storms could organize into a fast-moving, extensive squall line after dark with damaging winds and flash flooding at night.”
The solid line of locally severe thunderstorms will push eastward along the I-35 corridor from Iowa to north-central Texas during Christmas evening.
By early Monday, the storms will lose some of their intensity. However, there can still be some trouble for people catching a flight or making the commute back to work on Monday. There can still be a long zone of thunderstorms with heavy rain and locally gusty winds from eastern Wisconsin and Michigan to northwestern Arkansas and northeastern Texas.
“Despite the time of the year, severe weather occasionally occurs in this part of the nation with storm systems such as this,” Rossio said.
The last severe weather outbreak to occur on Christmas Day was in 2012. It was centered over the lower Mississippi Valley. More than two dozen tornadoes were spawned during the event that continued into Dec. 26. The storms killed 16 people.