Storms bring dangerous tornadoes and tennis-ball sized hail to the Central Plains | CNN

Storms bring dangerous tornadoes and tennis-ball sized hail to the Central Plains | CNN



CNN
 — 

Millions across parts of the Central Plains are at risk for severe weather Sunday after storms led to several reported tornadoes, tennis ball-sized hail and damaging winds in several states.

At least 10 tornadoes had been reported across Kansas, Colorado and Oklahoma as of Sunday night, including an “extremely dangerous and potentially deadly” twister that has torn a path into Oklahoma City, the National Weather Service said. The service warned people in the twister’s path, “To protect your life, TAKE COVER NOW!”

A severe storm threat will continue to impact the region on Monday. About 30 million people across the United States are at risk of severe thunderstorms Sunday, including along coastal Florida, Georgia, and southern South Carolina.

“Destructive wind swaths of 80-100 mph may occur, with localized extreme gusts exceeding 100 mph possible,” the Storm Prediction Center warned. “Very large hail and a few tornadoes are also anticipated.”

Kansas has seen some of the strongest winds Sunday. Gusts as fast as 100 mph were recorded at the state’s Salina Regional Airport and gusts over 80 mph were also reported in the cities of Russell and Hutchinson.

Baseball-sized hail struck in Ellis, Kansas, and Moorewood, Oklahoma, according to the National Weather Service. Hail more than 2.5 inches in diameter was reported in at least two other Kansas cities.

In its outlook for Sunday, the Storm Prediction Center said the storm system includes the potential for a derecho, which produces widespread, long-lived, straight-line winds associated with a fast-moving group of severe thunderstorms.

The severe weather in Houston Thursday included a derecho with 100 mph winds.

“We’re really trying to highlight with just one word, the worst, most damaging wind event that you can potentially expect,” Matt Elliott, Storm Prediction Center warning coordination meteorologist, told CNN last year. “… when you hear that term, it means that we’re talking about something extremely serious.”

A Level 4 of 5 risk of severe weather is in place across western and central Kansas, including the cities of Dodge City, Salina, Hutchinson, Garden City and Hays. Storms on Sunday afternoon and evening could potentially bring damaging wind gusts up to 100 mph, large hail over 2 inches and a few tornadoes, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

“Scattered severe storms are expected to affect the region Sunday afternoon and evening,” the National Weather Service in Wichita said. “The strongest storms will be capable of producing up to tennis ball size hail, 80 mph wind gusts, and a tornado cannot be ruled out.”

Portions of the east coast of Florida also face a slight risk, Level 2 of 5, for severe thunderstorms on Sunday. Large hail will be probable, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

Through early next week, the Central US faces an increasing threat of severe weather and excessive rainfall, according to the National Weather Service.

On Monday, the severe thunderstorm risk drops to a slight Level 2 out of 5 for the Central Plains, and a Level 1 threat spreads east to include parts of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois, encompassing the cities of Chicago and Detroit. Hail and strong wind gusts will be the primary threats, though isolated tornadoes are also possible across the Central Plains and portions of the Midwest.

“Severe thunderstorms are possible across parts of the central Plains Monday evening into the overnight hours,” the Storm Prediction Center said. “Additional more isolated strong to severe storms are possible from the Middle Mississippi Valley to Lower Michigan through Monday afternoon.”

Severe thunderstorm chances will persist on Tuesday across parts of the Mississippi Valley, according to the center. Though damaging winds will be the primary concern, large hail and tornadoes will also be possible.

Meanwhile, Houston area residents who are still picking up the pieces from Thursday’s storms will contend with a much different danger through early next week: sweltering heat. It’s a stark contrast from the soaking, windy weather in Harris County that killed at least seven people, damaged skyscrapers, toppled trees, downed power lines, caused a sewage spill and made debris ridden roads impassable.

The heat index, which measures what the body actually feels, could hit triple-digits by next week, raising health risks from weather’s deadliest threat.

Days after the storm has passed, power remains out for more than 296,000 homes and business across Harris County as of early Sunday evening, according to poweroutage.us. With increasingly high heat and humidity, those residents will have to cope with heat indices from the 90s Sunday and Monday into the 100s Tuesday and Wednesday without air conditioning. Authorities have warned restoring power to all customers could take weeks.

“Widespread power outages continue across the Houston metro area. Please use safety precautions when using generators,” the National Weather Service in Houston said. “Also, with high temperatures around 90° this weekend, know the symptoms of heat exhaustion/stroke. Don’t overdo yourself during the cleanup process.”

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