Weekend tornado outbreak predicted for Midwest

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 13, 2012 1:08 PM
Weekend tornado outbreak predicted for Midwest

(Reuters) - Forecasters are warning of a possible major tornado outbreak in the Midwest this weekend, with Kansas and Oklahoma seen at particular risk as early as Saturday.

Atmospheric conditions will be similar to those that caused severe storms in parts of the Midwest and Southeast in early March that killed more than 50 people, said Steve Weiss, science support branch chief for the National Storm Prediction Center.

"We see potentially some long track and very damaging tornadoes," Weiss said.

Conditions favor strong thunderstorms in Kansas and Oklahoma Saturday, with a few "supercell" storms with rotating updrafts, Weiss said. "The potential is that some of the supercells could be long-lived, so if they produce tornadoes they could be on the ground for a while," Weiss said.

Forecasters say the storms could start Saturday afternoon into the early evening and continue after dark, when such storms can be the most dangerous.

"This is going to be a very bad outbreak of severe weather for folks in the Plains," said Henry Margusity, AccuWeather.com severe weather expert, on his blog Friday.

Storms could impact heavily populated areas such as Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and Wichita and Topeka, Kansas, Weiss said.

Other areas that could be hit by severe thunderstorms Saturday include parts of Texas into Nebraska, Iowa and parts of Missouri, Weiss said.

(Reporting By Mary Wisniewski)