Tornadoes Threaten Plains, Severe Weather Likely Across Much Of Central U.S. This Week

Tornadoes will threaten the Plains this week, and much of the nation’s mid-section is under the threat of severe weather, as a powerful storm system moves across the country.

As the New York Times reports, this current storm system has the potential to spawn so-called “long track tornadoes” — that is, powerful tornadoes that are likely to stay on the ground for a long time, wreaking destruction in their wake.

Bill Bunting, chief of operations at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, says that the tornadoes that could be spawned by this storm system are nothing to scoff at.

“Those typically are stronger tornadoes. When we talk about strong and long-track, it typically implies higher intensity and more potential for damage. So they should be taken seriously.”

From Texas, and tracking north up into Nebraska, the storm system is expected to bring baseball-sized hail in addition to possible tornadoes.

Several major U.S. cities, including Dallas, Oklahoma City, and Kansas City, are in the tornadoes’ paths.

Beginning Tuesday afternoon, the powerful storms are expected to begin battering the western portion of the central plains, and then on Wednesday track eastward into parts of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri. And then, according to forecast models, another major storm system threatening the plains is brewing right behind this one, bringing another possible round of tornadoes to the region.

Meanwhile, along the East Coast, a separate storm system is currently battering the Mid-Atlantic states of Delaware and Maryland, even as voters in those states cast their primary ballots.

In Oklahoma City, the heart of the so-called “Tornado Alley,” authorities have already cancelled schools, as a precautionary measure, according to KFOR-TV (Oklahoma City).

Lara O’Leary of the Emergency Medical Services Authority in Oklahoma says that residents of the Sooner State are used to Mother Nature’s wrath.

“Our medics are well versed in disaster. Mother nature tends to pay particular attention to Oklahoma. If it’s not an earthquake, it’s a tornado, which brings flooding and all sorts of other calamities.”

Elsewhere in Oklahoma City, emergency crews are stocking up on food and supplies and putting personnel on high alert. In particular, crews are checking on residents who live in trailers — mobile homes that are at specific risk from tornadoes — and making sure they have somewhere safe to go.

Storm Prediction Center meteorologist Matt Mosier notes that, despite advances in technology, predicting tornadoes is far from an exact science.

“We shouldn’t assume that we’re going to have a lot of information — you know, a lot of lead time. We may or we may not. It’s never straightforward when you’re sitting here talking about (predicting) large tornadoes. We’re trying to be as confident or as accurate as we can.”

According to Weather Underground, the first thing you should do in the event of a tornado is get to a safe place. Specifically, you should head to a basement or a designated storm shelter. If your home doesn’t have a basement, head to the most interior room of your home — usually a bathroom or a laundry room — away from doors and windows.

If you live in the Great Plains or elsewhere in the nation’s midsection, now is the time to make a tornado shelter plan if you haven’t already done so.

[Photo by Shutterstock/Justin Hobson]