Tornado Threat Rises for Southern US as West Covers in Snow

(CNN) –– Over the next several days, the clash between an early winter gust and record fall warmth will produce a robust storm system that will leave heavy snow in the western mountains and intense thunderstorms in the south.

The Weather Prediction Center said, “The workweek is expected to have an active end to much of the country as a highly amplified upper-level low pressure moves eastward and creates a multitude of weather hazards for areas west of the Mississippi River.

As that system moves east, another system will move into the Pacific Northwest unleashing heavy rain, snow and strong winds.

Winter weather spreads across the interior of the West

Winter weather watches remain in effect for much of the Rocky Mountains, where snow will continue to be heavy Thursday and temperatures will drop sharply.

“Strong winds and gusts from the north will also add to the wintry feel in this area in stark contrast to the hot and dry weather of the past few days,” the forecast center explained.

Salt Lake City hit nearly 70 degrees on Tuesday, but temperatures dropped below freezing late Wednesday night as the first snow of the season arrived. Snow is expected to continue in Utah, Arizona and Nevada on Thursday, and to begin arriving in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota.

There are also severe frost warnings and watches in Utah and California, as temperatures are expected to drop significantly between this Thursday night and Friday, dropping to minus 6°C.

By Friday morning, Denver is forecast to be 80°F colder than it was on Nov. 1, with at least 1 to 2 inches of fresh snow.

The threat of tornadoes returns to the south

Cool air from the west will meet record heat in the Central Plains and Midwest, allowing severe thunderstorms to develop Thursday through Friday morning.

The Storm Prediction Center declared a slight risk (level 2 of 5) of severe storms for parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, with a marginal risk (level 1 of 5) around this area. “Damaging gusts, isolated large hail, and a marginal tornado threat will be possible,” the forecast center warned.

Many of these storms will occur overnight, which increases the risk. Nighttime tornadoes are often more deadly than daytime tornadoes because people are sleeping and are less aware of the weather.

possibility tornadoes

The threat of tornadoes returns to the southern US This map shows the probability of storms between Thursday and Friday, from least (green) to greatest (fuzzy) probability.

The storms could continue into Friday morning, with additional strong activity increasing in the afternoon.

An enhanced risk (level 3 of 5) for severe storms has been issued for 9 million people in parts of Texas (including Dallas and Fort Worth), Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Tornadoes, some of which could be significant (EF2 or higher), damaging winds and large hail will threaten the region on Friday.

An additional 27 million people surrounding this enhanced risk area are also in danger (level 1 or 2) from severe storms on Friday. This area includes the cities of Houston, San Antonio, and Austin, Texas, as well as Oklahoma City, Kansas City, and Wichita, Kansas.

Heavy rains will also accompany the threat of inclement conditions.

Most areas will receive up to 5 centimeters of rain. Isolated amounts that are even higher could be recorded if storms remain or form over the same areas for longer periods.

Although much of the central U.S. is also experiencing a drought and in need of rain, excess rainfall could cause hard, dry ground to flood, especially in the region of Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas, according to the Weather Prediction Center.

The next winter storm enters the Pacific Northwest

The series of winter storms will continue with a surge of precipitation starting late Thursday and into the weekend, adding snow cover to many drought-stricken western states.

Between 15 and 30 inches of fresh snow is forecast to fall on the highest peaks of the Cascades, Rockies and Sierras through Sunday, while highs in cities like Seattle, Salt Lake City and Portland, Oregon will be 5. .5 to 8 °C below seasonal averages.

High temperatures in several major Northwest cities will be in line with typical early January temperatures, not early November.

Between 5 and 10 inches of new rainfall is forecast in the Pacific Northwest over the next seven days.

The increased humidity is welcome, as nearly 75% of the western US is under some level of drought, with a third of the Pacific Northwest experiencing severe drought conditions.

November is the second rainiest month of the year in cities like Seattle and Portland. Rain potential will also increase as far as Southern California starting this weekend and into next week.

— CNN Meteorologist Rob Shakelford contributed to this report.

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