Most of Missouri will have one round of severe weather to contend with today, that could include tornadoes, damaging winds, hail and flooding. Some of Missouri will have two.
National Weather Service Meteorologists say storms today will be life-threatening and are urging Missourians to prepare now for severe weather. Governor Jay Nixon (D) has declared a state of emergency in response to the storms already happening and those to come.
A tornado watch has been issued for 21 counties in southeast and south-central Missouri, for storms that have already prompted a tornado warning in Arkansas this morning. Those storms are anticipated to sweep northeast from southwestern Missouri through the St. Louis area.
These storms could produce large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes. Flooding is a possibility locally in southern Missouri, and more so in central and east-central Missouri where heavy rain has already fallen overnight.
Then for this afternoon will come storms that have caused the Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma to say much of central and southern Missouri has a “moderate” risk for severe weather.
Today’s threat of tornadoes is the highest the state has been under so far this year, according to Meteorologist Jayson Gosselin with the National Weather Service in St. Louis.
“Unfortunately there will probably be at least one tornado in the state and there could be quite a few,” says Gosselin.
“It looks like it should warm up by this afternoon and get very unstable and a cold front will head from west to east across the state. Out ahead of that and along it we’re expecting thunderstorms that are going to be capable of very large hail, very strong winds as well as tornadoes possible.”
Storms are expected to form in Kansas and Oklahoma before sweeping through the state, first as discrete supercell thunderstorms, which Meteorologist Ryan Cardell with the Weather Service Office in Springfield says are generally the most dangerous.
“They can produce large hail, damaging winds and possibly stronger tornadoes,” says Cardell.
Farther east, storms are expected to gather into a line.
“At that point the threat will switch over to being more of a straight-line wind threat with isolated tornadoes. That will happen early in the evening sometime.”
Flash flood warnings have already been issued in a swath of central and eastern Missouri where rainfall totals have ranged from between 2.5 to more than 3 inches from storms overnight. Gosselin says if more heavy rain does move through, more flash flooding issues are likely.
“Everything is very saturated now,” says Gosselin.
“This is a good time … before the storms have formed … to dust off your emergency plans,” says Cardell. “Make sure that’s all ready so that when the watches do come out you can kind of start heightening your situational awareness to where the storms currently are, if they’ve formed, things like that, so that way you’re kind of ready. When the tornado warning happens you’ve got one foot in place heading into your disaster plan.”
For information for your area, tune in to your Missourinet affiliate station and visit these Weather Service office websites.