The Storm Prediction Center works like clockwork. Everyday, rain or shine, they put out severe weather risk updates at the same time each and every day. But it’s safe to say this morning’s 1am update was one of the most viewed they’ve ever had.
With each outlook update, there are going to be some modifications to the one before. And this morning’s is no different. Gone is the high risk for western Iowa, moved further west into portions of Nebraska, While that sounds like a big change I want to stress that it really isn’t. A major tornado outbreak is forecast for today and portions of Iowa are still expected to feel an impact from it.
Much like our previous update, I’ve posted the general risk areas above. Now with just hours to go before the outbreak begins, the SPC has broken down the risk categories to severe weather type. Below is the risk graphic focusing solely on tornadoes. Again, the highest risk lies just to the west of Iowa but I do not want that to fool anyone. Remember, strong and violent tornadoes do not need to develop in a high risk area. There are a number of examples, including the Parkersburg tornado, where destructive events occurred in risks far lower than what Iowa faces today and tonight.
Much of what we’ve written before rings true and the response we received yesterday was beyond overwhelming. I cannot thank our readers enough for not only listening to the early warnings, but sharing the information with thousands of others. I continue to stress the best way to prevent a loss of life is to be “in the know.” And that will ring true for millions in areas under the gun today from Iowa all the way to Texas.
There are some changes in the severe threat for Sunday as well that could spare Iowa, but for now I want to focus on today before turning to the threat we may or may not face tomorrow. I feel we need to repeat a lot of information at this point that we shared with you yesterday. By this afternoon, explosive development of severe weather is expected to take place, starting in Nebraska. Strong, violent, long-track tornadoes are expected over portions of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and western Iowa. This tornado threat could last well after sunset, further complicating early warning as tornadoes could become masked by darkness. Besides tornadoes, widespread large hail and strong winds gusts are expected over the same areas. There is a great potential for widespread damage and loss of life.
EVERY precaution should be taken by people who could experience severe weather today and tonight. The first thing people need to do is stay informed. We’ll continue to post updates throughout the day both here and on our facebook fan page as well as twitter. We’ll also have live video here on our website from storm chaser Ben McMillan as he chases these storms. As of this morning, Ben plans to leave Des Moines and start his chase in Grand Island, NE.
Once storms develop, it’s crucial that people in the path of the storms not only stay tuned to sites like this, and television and radio, but get a plan ready to find safe shelter quickly. If you live in a home, prepare an area in the lowest level, preferably a basement. If you don’t have a basement, it would be a good idea to find a place that does before storms arrive. But once the warning sirens sound, it’s too late to run. If you can’t get to a basement, find an interior room like a closet or bathroom, in order to put the most walls between you and the storm.
Above all, look after one another. Even if you aren’t affected by today’s storms, but you know someone who is, call them, email them, text them, make sure they’re aware of what’s happening today and tonight. A day like this has all the potential to create a large amount of death and destruction. Prevention can’t stop all of that, but every bit of effort counts.
Again we’ll have coverage throughout the day and we plan to launch live video late this morning or early in the afternoon so stay tuned!