Severe weather expected, snow ongoing as classic fall storm system moves East

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Fall: Secondary Severe Season

By Weather.com

A storm system that is bringing heavy snowfall to the higher elevations of the West will bring the threat of severe thunderstorms as it begins to emerge from the Rockies and intercepts warm, unstable air over the Plains. The risk for severe thunderstorms will include a fairly broad swath of the nation's midsection Thursday and Friday.

There's also a threat of local flash flooding in parts of Texas, still recovering from last week's destructive flash flooding.

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Storm's Wintry Side: Up to 22 Inches of Snow Reported

The storm system that will bring the severe thunderstorm risk east of the Rockies has already brought snow, some of it heavy, to the mountains of the West.

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Severe weather, east coast, 9/30 - 10/2
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Severe weather expected, snow ongoing as classic fall storm system moves East
Flood waters enveloped this neighborhood in the Strathmere section of Upper Township N.J. on Friday Oct. 2, 2015. Despite forecasts showing the impending Hurricane Joaquin may move out to sea and not directly strike New Jersey, crews along the shore were nonetheless taking precautions against flooding from a wind and rainstorm that preceded Joaquin and that was causing some flooding in southern New Jersey on Friday. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)
Cars drive through a flooded intersection during high tide on Chincoteague Island, Va., on Friday, Oct. 2, 2015. Virginia State Police say they've responded to dozens of vehicle crashes throughout the state as heavy rains cause problems for motorists. (AP Photo/David Dishneau)
Juan Carlos Sanchez uses his shoes to paddle a kayak on a flooded street near Collins Ave., Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Miami Beach, Fla. The street flooding was in part caused by high tides due to the lunar cycle, according to the National Weather Service. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
PORTLAND, ME - SEPTEMBER 30: A pickup truck plows through heavy floodwater on Somerset Street near Whole Food Market Wednesday, September 30, 2015. (Photo by Gabe Souza/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
Louis Fernandez walks along a flooded Collins Ave. from his apartment to a nearby restaurant, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Miami Beach, Fla. The street flooding was in part caused by high tides due to the lunar cycle, according to the National Weather Service. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
A woman gets a ride on a police truck navigating a flooded Indian Creek Drive, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Miami Beach, Fla. The street flooding was in part caused by high tides due to the lunar cycle, according to the National Weather Service. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
PORTLAND, ME - SEPTEMBER 30: Torrential rain pounded Southern Maine causing flooding in Portland Wednesday, September 30, 2015. (Photo by Gabe Souza/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
Ryan Crews, a tourist from San Francisco, walks her rental bicycle along a flooded Collins Ave., Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Miami Beach, Fla. (The street flooding was in part caused by high tides due to the lunar cycle, according to the National Weather Service. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
A worker prepares to tow a stranded vehicle from a flooded road on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Guilderland, N.Y. The National Weather Service has issued flood watches for much of the eastern half of upstate New York as a storm dumps more than two inches of rain across the region. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Marilyn Turner, left, and Eliza Hoover are shielded from the rain by an umbrella as they sit on the beach at Cape Charles, Va., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. Forecasts for the weekend are calling for more rain in the region as the East Coast tracks Hurricane Joaquin. (Jay Diem/The Daily Times via AP) 
A hotel guest carries his shoes as he is escorted to his car along a flooded Collins Ave., Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Miami Beach, Fla. The street flooding was in part caused by high tides due to the lunar cycle, according to the National Weather Service. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
PORTLAND, ME - SEPTEMBER 30: Laura Hall walks through floodwaters on Pearl Street to return to work at Whole Foods Market after taking a break to move her car to higher ground Wednesday, September 30, 2015. (Photo by Gabe Souza/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
A motorist drives through flooding water in Portland, Maine, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. Heavy rain has been moving through northern New England and a flood warning was issued for parts of Maine and New Hampshire. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
A broken umbrella is seen after a storm in Portland, Maine, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. Heavy rain has been moving through northern New England and a flood warning was issued for parts of Maine and New Hampshire. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
A motorist drives through flooding water in Portland, Maine, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. Heavy rain has been moving through northern New England and a flood warning was issued for parts of Maine and New Hampshire. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
The Empire State Building is seen from Pier A Park on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Hoboken, N.J. Officials are taking precautions for the rest of the week as forecasters closely follow Hurricane Joaquin. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
A boat passes Pier A Park on the Hudson River with the New York skyline in the background on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Hoboken, N.J. Officials are taking precautions for the rest of the week as forecasters closely follow Hurricane Joaquin. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
A police vehicle blocks a flooded road on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Guilderland, N.Y. The National Weather Service has issued flood watches for much of the eastern half of upstate New York as a storm dumps more than two inches of rain across the region. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
A vehicle is stranded on a flooded road on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Guilderland, N.Y. The National Weather Service has issued flood watches for much of the eastern half of upstate New York as a storm dumps more than two inches of rain across the region. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
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More than a foot fell in some areas, including northeastern Nevada where 18 inches of snow snapped the branches of fruit trees in Tuscarora on Tuesday.

Snow will expand east across the Rockies into Thursday before tapering off across the northern Plains later in the day. These snows may create difficult driving conditions on Interstate 80 west of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Interstate 70 west of Denver.

A weaker secondary disturbance will drop through the northern Rockies Thursday night into Friday, bringing lighter snowfall to the mountains of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

MORE: Weekly Planner Forecast Maps

Severe Weather Forecast

The emerging storm system will bring with it a roaring streak of wind energy several thousand feet aloft. By Thursday, winds some 20,000 feet above ground level will be screaming from the southwest at 100 to 140 mph from the Texas Panhandle to Minnesota. Winds of 60 mph may be blowing just a few thousand feet above ground level in parts of that corridor. Similar conditions will shift into the Great Lakes region Friday.

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That's not just a concern for pilots. As thunderstorms erupt, they could pull some of that wind momentum down to ground level and that would bring the potential for damaging winds. That's the main reason for the severe weather threat areas depicted for Thursday and Friday.

The key question is how unstable the atmosphere can get and how far north it can do so. It is, after all, November -- and although record-high temperatures have been recorded ahead of the approaching storm system, the atmosphere may not be all that unstable -- because it's also abnormally warm in the upper atmosphere ahead of the storm.

Still, that instability should have enough of a favorable environment to support severe thunderstorms and even a few tornadoes Thursday into Thursday night over the south-central states.

This is a typical situation in cool-season severe thunderstorm threats -- powerful winds aloft and unstable air near the ground, but not lined up over the same location.

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Here's how we see this playing out.

Thursday

  • A few strong to severe thunderstorms may develop over central Texas in the morning as the environment becomes increasingly unstable.
  • Thunderstorms will be more numerous as the storm system's cold front sweeps into the Plains through the day. Scattered severe thunderstorms are possible from from central and north Texas into central and eastern Oklahoma.
  • A risk for a few strong thunderstorms exists further north into eastern Kansas, Missouri and Iowa, although instability will be limited here.
  • Thunderstorms, some severe, may sweep into the mid-Mississippi Valley, Ozarks and east Texas Thursday night.
  • The main threats are damaging wind gusts and a few tornadoes, likely to be brief and embedded within lines of thunderstorms.
  • Flash flooding is also a threat, though not as large a threat as this past weekend. Flood watches have been posted already in parts of the southern Plains.

Friday

  • Severe thunderstorms are possible from the eastern Great Lakes to the Lower Mississippi Valley.
  • Though the areal coverage of severe storms is likely to be less than Thursday, high wind gusts are possible especially in the northern part of the severe risk area, while an isolated tornado can't be ruled out in the southern part of the risk area.
  • Given the limited instability, northern parts of the risk area may experience little or no lightning and thunder but still see damaging wind gusts.
  • As the frontal system stalls out, clusters of thunderstorms with locally heavy rain may trigger flash flooding into Friday night from the Tennessee Valley southwestward into the Lower Mississippi Valley and parts of Texas.

For specific tornado threat forecasts, check out the latest TOR:CON forecasts from severe weather expert, Dr. Greg Forbes.

MAPS: 7-day National Rain Forecast

Radar, Watches and Warnings

The current radar map below focuses on the most likely areas for severe weather and/or flash flooding, if any.

For radar and watch/warning information in other areas of the country, click on the links below.

MORE: View National Interactive Radar Map | Difference Between a Watch and a Warning

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