Middle America preparing for wet, stormy weekend and severe weather threat

Kansas City, Mo. – Friday, Oct. 12, 2012 – NOAA forecasters throughout the middle United States were making the most of their time in preparations for a stormy weekend Thursday, using the calm before the storm to coordinate with state and local governments and emergency management agencies.

Spotty rain and thunderstorms are expected through the weekend and forecasters are expecting severe weather to intensify overnight and into Saturday afternoon. Rain and thunderstorms are expected to grow in number and intensity tonight in the central Plains with rain falling from the western Great Lakes to the Upper Mississippi Valley.

Severe thunderstorms are expected each day through the weekend in the southern Plains and the Upper Mississippi Valley. Today’s severe weather will occur in the southwest Plains.

Parts of the Dakotas and Minnesota will contend with continued dry conditions and the threat of wildfires, according to forecasters. Red Flag Warnings and Extreme Fire Danger are in effect today for south-central North Dakota, the eastern half of South Dakota, southwest Minnesota and extreme southeast South Dakota.

See today’s Hazards Map at http://www.weather.gov/largemap.php and the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center threats map at http://origin.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/noaa/noaad1.gif.

Forecasters at NOAA’s Hydrometeorological Prediction Center said a storm currently over the southwest will advance northeastward to the Middle and Lower Missouri Valley by Saturday evening. The system began producing showers and thunderstorms over parts of the Southwest, the Great Basin and the southern Rockies this morning. Showers and thunderstorms will develop over parts of the southern Plains to the Tennessee Valley through Friday afternoon.

Rain and afternoon thunderstorms will move into the Great Basin and Central Rockies through Saturday morning, producing some snow at the highest elevations.

As the front moves into the Plains, it will pull moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, producing more showers and thunderstorms over the southern High Plains. The Gulf moisture will help spread storms over the southern Plains and Middle Mississippi Valley to the Upper Great Lakes by Saturday evening.

Forecasters at NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center said there is a slight chance of severe weather development later today in two areas. An eastern area includes extreme southeast Colorado; central, southern and western Kansas; the Oklahoma Panhandle; the Texas Panhandle and extreme eastern New Mexico. A western are includes the Four Corners area of southeast Utah, southwest Colorado, northwest New Mexico and northeast Arizona. See http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/outlook/day1otlk.html.

Saturday’s severe weather possibilities are a major concern because of the 11-state area likely to be affected and numerous outdoor activities scheduled. The area at risk includes parts of South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Wisconsin and Illinois. See graphic at http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/outlook/day2otlk.html.

For Sunday the risk area move to the east to include parts of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama. See http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/outlook/day3otlk.html.

Several of NOAA’s National Weather Service offices have posted storm briefings on web pages, including:

Wichita, KS – http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ict/?n=embrief

Des Moines, IA – http://www.crh.noaa.gov/wxstory.php?site=dmx

Minneapolis, MN – http://www.crh.noaa.gov/mpx/?n=mpxsevere

Chicago, IL – http://www.crh.noaa.gov/news/display_cmsstory.php?wfo=lot&storyid=88110&source=0

St. Louis, MO – http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lsx/?n=flash_brief

Grand Rapids, MI – http://www.crh.noaa.gov/news/display_cmsstory.php?wfo=grr&storyid=88126&source=0

A Winter Storm Warning is in effect tonight and Saturday for the Snowy and Sierra Madre Ranges in south-central Wyoming. Forecasters at the Cheyenne, Wyo., office said moderate to heavy snow would begin around 9 p.m. MDDT this evening with the heaviest snowfall likely between midnight and 6 a.m. Saturday. Total accumulations of 6-12 inches are expected with some locally higher amounts.

The Rocky Mountains of western Colorado are under a Winter Weather Advisory, with Grand Junction forecasters expecting 4-6 inches of snow throughout the area.

NOAA’s five-day precipitation outlooks may be found at http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/qpf/qpf2.shtml.

Local National Weather Service office web pages are available at http://weather.gov; select the desired location. All segments of the U.S. weather and flood forecasts and outlooks are available through the NOAAWatch briefing page at http://www.noaawatch.gov/briefing.php.

Contact:  Public Affairs Specialist Patrick Slattery (816) 268-3135

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