Siege of Severe Thunderstorms, Tornadoes and Flash Flooding to Continue Into Next Week

weather.com meteorologists
Published: May 23, 2019

The current siege of severe thunderstorms and flooding rain will continue in parts of the storm-weary Plains and Midwest through at least early next week, including the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The Northeast will join the severe weather threat Thursday, and possibly this weekend, as well.

(LATEST NEWS: Tornadoes Tear Through Missouri|Flooding Forces Evacuations

Happening Now

Thunderstorms continue pushing eastward into the interior Northeast. These storms roared through parts of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio overnight into early Thursday spawning possible tornadoes and numerous reports of downed trees and power lines.

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has issued a severe thunderstorm watch valid until 2 p.m. EDT for parts of northern Pennsylvania and western and central New York. This watch area includes Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse.


Current Radar, Watches and Warnings

Flash flood warning also remain in effect in parts of southern Illinois, southwest Missouri and southeast Kansas, as clusters of storms linger. The National Weather Service received numerous reports of flooded roads on the north and west side of Springfield, Missouri, Thursday morning, and multiple roads were flooded in Jasper County, Missouri, including the city of Joplin, with some water rescues requested.


Current Radar, Watches and Warnings

As of Thursday morning, NOAA's Storm Prediction Center had compiled 31 tornado reports in Oklahoma, Missouri and Illinois.

A large tornado struck Jefferson City, Missouri, just before midnight CDT, tearing a swath of damage through the heart of Missouri's capital city of about 43,000 residents.

The same supercell thunderstorm, possibly the same tornado, appeared to have also damaged homes near the town of Eldon, about 25 miles southwest of Jefferson City.

Law enforcement officers confirmed three people were killed by a tornado that struck Wednesday evening near Golden City, Missouri, about 30 miles northeast of Joplin, according to the Missouri Department of Public Safety.

Preliminary severe weather reports from May 22 through early morning on May 23, 2019. Note the tornado reports don't necessarily correspond to the number and track of actual tornadoes, and some preliminary wind damage reports may be found to be from tornadoes after NWS damage surveys are conducted.
(Data: NOAA/NWS/SPC)

What appears to have been the same tornado struck just northwest of the regional airport at Joplin, eight years to the day after that city experienced a catastrophic tornado. Officials in the town of Carl Junction, just north of Joplin, reported downed power lines and tree debris but no serious injuries.

An overnight squall line of severe thunderstorms may have spawned at least one tornado near Fithian, Illinois, where power poles were snapped and a semi was blown off Interstate 74.

Large machine sheds were destroyed in Ashland, Illinois, and an 83 mph wind gust was measured in Watseka, Illinois. Trees were uprooted and power lines downed, closing roads from Orland to Pleasant Lake, Indiana.

A large tornado was spotted on the ground southwest of the city of Okmulgee, Oklahoma, early Wednesday evening. An unconfirmed media report indicated that a house may have been struck by the twister southwest of Okmulgee.

Baseball-sized hail was reported in the Okmulgee area as the tornadic thunderstorm moved through, according to the NWS.

The NWS issued another PDS tornado warning Wednesday evening for northwestern Rogers, southeastern Washington and northeastern Tulsa counties in Oklahoma after a large tornado was spotted on the ground near Owasso, Oklahoma. The twister was headed in the direction of Collinsville, Oklahoma.

Additional storm reports from the last several days can be found at the bottom of this article.

Thursday's Forecast

Severe thunderstorms will erupt Thursday in two areas.

One round of storms is expected to push through parts of the Northeast into the afternoon and early evening from the mid-Atlantic states and the Appalachians to central and upstate New York. Damaging thunderstorm winds, large hail and some tornadoes are possible.

Another round of severe storms will flare up in the Plains on Thursday as a new upper-level system punches out of the Rockies.

A swath from West Texas into western Oklahoma, Kansas and southeastern Nebraska has the greatest chance of seeing severe storms with large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes.


Thursday Severe Thunderstorm Forecast

Thursday evening, multiple clusters of thunderstorms will evolve over the Plains, from west Texas to parts of Iowa and Missouri.

These clusters may train over some areas already saturated by weeks of heavy rain, or already dealing with flooded rivers. Thus, the threat of renewed flash flooding is a serious danger into Friday morning, as NOAA's Weather Prediction Center highlighted in their excessive rain outlook.


Thursday and Thursday Night's Excessive Rainfall Forecast

Friday's Forecast

After morning thunderstorms die off, at least another round of scattered severe thunderstorms are possible Friday in a broad swath from west Texas to the upper Midwest.

Damaging winds, hail and a few tornadoes are possible anywhere along this swath.

Perhaps the most serious concern, however, may be more flooding rainfall from any clusters of storms over saturated areas. NOAA's Weather Prediction Center has the greatest risk of flooding rain in a swath from eastern Kansas into northern Missouri, southern Iowa and northwest Illinois, where overnight thunderstorm clusters are most probable Friday night.


Friday's Severe Thunderstorm Forecast

Saturday's Forecast

Once again, after morning thunderstorm clusters die off in parts of the Midwest and Missouri Valley, scattered severe thunderstorms will again flare up in the afternoon in the southern and central Plains, probably congealing into one or more late night/overnight thunderstorm clusters.

Some tornadoes, damaging straight-line winds, hail and yet more flooding rainfall are expected in these areas. NOAA's Weather Prediction Center highlighted virtually the same area Saturday as Friday in the Missouri Valley, from Kansas to southern Iowa, for more heavy rain and life-threatening flash flooding, not to mention worsening river flooding.

Scattered severe storms are also expected by afternoon in parts of the Ohio Valley and Lower Great Lakes, possibly shifting into parts of the interior Northeast.


Saturday's Severe Thunderstorm Forecast

If that wasn't enough, due to this stagnant jet-stream pattern, NOAA's Storm Prediction Center highlighted potential severe weather threats Sunday, Memorial Day, and Tuesday in the storm and flood-beleaguered parts of the Plains and Midwest.

This extended siege could eventually lead to more record-breaking river flooding lasting well into next week, if not early June.

Severe Weather Recap

Tuesday, May 21

A confirmed large tornado was on the ground just west of St. Louis early Tuesday evening, according to the National Weather Service. A "particularly dangerous situation" (PDS) tornado warning was issued for southwestern St. Charles, east-central Franklin and west-central St. Louis counties. The tornado appeared to have lifted before reaching the highly populated St. Louis metro area.

Some 45 miles west of St. Louis in Augusta, Missouri, power flashes were observed by a storm spotter, who noted the tornado was rain-wrapped. Tree debris was observed in nearby Labadie, Missouri. A funnel cloud was reported near Harvester, Missouri, some 25 miles northwest of St. Louis.

A photogenic tornado was captured in the plains of eastern Kansas early Tuesday evening near the town of Webster. Another tornado was visible just west of Junction City, Kansas.

A confirmed tornado was on the ground just north of Northview, Missouri, Tuesday afternoon, according to the NWS. An 18-wheeler was overturned on Interstate 44 at mile marker 92.8, and damage was reported at the old Animal Paradise.

Another tornado report was received Tuesday afternoon from near Ava, Missouri, where tree limbs were down and at least one tree was uprooted.

Damage was also reported in Hartville, Missouri, including a storefront blown down and several downed trees, some of which fell onto houses. It was not yet clear if the damage was caused by a tornado or strong thunderstorm winds.

The NWS confirmed that five pre-dawn tornadoes, all rated EF0 or EF1, struck early Tuesday from Norman to near Meeker, Oklahoma. Another tornado rated EF1 was confirmed near Tulsa International Airport Tuesday morning.

Late Tuesday morning, a water rescue was underway in Edmond, Oklahoma. An additional water rescue was necessary in Stillwater, Oklahoma, after a woman's car was swept away. Many roads in these areas were closed.

Tuesday afternoon, Highway 20 just east of Skiatook, Oklahoma, was inundated by rising floodwaters, according to a photo posted on social media.

Monday, May 20

Several tornadoes touched down from West Texas and Oklahoma to southeastern Kansas and southwestern Missouri. Two tornadoes were spotted simultaneously near the town of Crescent, Oklahoma, Monday afternoon.

A tornado caused damage near Mangum, Oklahoma, early Monday evening, including damaged homes and an apartment complex, a destroyed county building and ripped-up trees. No injuries had been reported.

Tornadoes were also reported in Odessa, Texas, and Perry, Oklahoma, as well as Cherokee County, Kansas, and Barton County, Missouri.

A barn roof was ripped off and twisted by the reported tornado in Perry, Oklahoma. The Barton County, Missouri, tornado caused damage to houses and buildings and knocked down power lines.

Late Monday night, a tornado debris signature was evident on radar as a storm moved near Peggs, Oklahoma. The storm went on to produce a confirmed large and destructive tornado near the town of Leach, Oklahoma, prompting the issuance of a tornado emergency.

A tornado in Paducah, Texas, was also among the multiple twisters spotted by storm chasers on Monday.

In addition to the tornadoes, extremely large hail up to 5.5 inches in diameter was reported in Wellington, Texas, Monday afternoon.

Flooding affected several areas in the southern Plains Monday evening, including parts of north-central and northeastern Oklahoma and south-central and southeastern Kansas. Some local roads were closed in those areas.

A flash flood emergency was issued for several communities in northeastern Oklahoma, including the city of Bartlesville. Four to 6 inches of rain had already fallen by around 11 p.m. CDT Monday. Multiple water rescues were underway in Bartlesville, according to county officials.

Parts of Hominy, Oklahoma, were evacuated late Monday night as up to 5 feet of water entered some homes.

Water rescues were also necessary in Glencoe, Oklahoma, while floodwaters reportedly entered the local police department in Ponca City, Oklahoma.

Additional water rescues were reported overnight into early Tuesday in Stillwater, Oklahoma; Hominy, Oklahoma; Joplin, Missouri; and other locations. Some homes in Hominy, Oklahoma, reportedly had 5 feet of water inside.

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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