By Alex Sosnowski, Expert Senior Meteorologist
October 12, 2012; 6:28 AM
A strengthening storm tracking from Arizona to Michigan will bring a major severe weather outbreak, including the risk of tornadoes.
The potential for dangerous and damaging thunderstorms will reach over a large part of the Southwest Friday and then Central U.S. Friday into Sunday, impacting tens of millions of people through the weekend.
The same storm system that delivered hail, flash flooding and waterspouts to Southern California on Thursday will bring a risk to lives and property over the Plains and part of the Midwest.
The storms Thursday impacted the cities of Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas and Phoenix.
The main outbreak of severe weather will commence Friday over the southern Plains.
The area from eastern New Mexico and the northern Texas Panhandle to western Oklahoma, southeastern Colorado and southwestern Kansas will be ripe for thunderstorm development Friday.
During Friday afternoon and evening, the building storms are likely to produce large hail and damaging wind gusts, but they can also produce a few tornadoes.
Drenching, locally gusty storms have also erupted farther to the east Friday, as anticipated, reaching across the Mississippi River into Tennessee.
The risk of damaging and life-threatening storm will reach a peak Saturday afternoon and evening from southern Minnesota and southern Wisconsin to Iowa, northwestern Illinois, eastern Nebraska, central and eastern Kansas, northern and western Missouri, central and eastern Oklahoma, northwestern Arkansas and north-central Texas.
According to Severe Weather Expert Henry Margusity, “The potential from the storms spans the complete arsenal of violent weather ranging from large hail and flash flooding to damaging straight-line wind gusts and tornadoes.”
Cities that could be hit by violent thunderstorms spanning Saturday afternoon and evening include Omaha, Des Moines, Rockford, Kansas City, Joplin, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Dallas and Wichita.
College and high school football games are only a handful of the activities that could be impacted by the severe weather threat.
The risk of storms with strong wind gusts and torrential downpours will continue into the latter part of the weekend.
Over portions of the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes, strong wind gusts, with and without thunder, are a possibility as a cool front plows eastward during Sunday. Chicago, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Louisville, Cincinnati and Detroit could experience squalls capable of knocking down tree limbs and power lines.
Farther south, slow-moving and potentially repeating downpours and locally severe thunderstorms may affect portions of central and northeastern Texas to part of the lower Mississippi Valley Sunday.
The pattern shaping up into this weekend is a classic example of the secondary severe weather season that occurs during autumn.