After severe thunderstorms brought damaging winds and hail to the Dakotas and Minnesota on Friday, over 20 million Americans across the Midwest will be at risk for dangerous thunderstorms into Saturday evening. On Sunday, the threat for severe thunderstorms could shift into parts of the mid-Atlantic and eastern Ohio Valley.
Wind gusts up to 75 mph were recorded across the North Central states on Friday and Friday night. The highest gust was recorded in Long Lake, South Dakota, with Lake City, South Dakota, close behind with near 70 mph. On Trout Lake near Soudan, Minnesota, high wind gusts flipped multiple canoes over.
Hail fell across the region as well, including one 2.00-inch report in Shooks, Minnesota, and a 1.25-inch report near Sorum, South Dakota.
Early into Saturday evening, a tornado was spotted on the ground near Port Austin, Michigan. Power lines and trees across the northeastern part of the state were downed from strong winds that swept through the area as well.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Peoria, Illinois; and Fort Wayne, Indiana are among the cities that will be impacted by Saturday's storms. Some of the larger population centers, such as Detroit and Chicago, are also at risk.
AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski warned that anyone visiting Grant Park or Navy Pier on Saturday should keep an eye out for severe thunderstorms.
The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) estimates that over 20 million are facing a slight risk of severe weather across the Midwest. Another roughly 4 million people will have a similar risk in Canada according to Accuweather meteorologists.
"An approaching cold front combining with a hot, humid air mass in place will set off severe t-storms later Saturday which could produce downpours, hail and damaging winds," said Pydynowski.
Winds can gust up to the AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 80 mph (140 km/h), likely in northeastern Illinois or Michigan. Parts of southeastern Ontario, Canada, can also be impacted by these storms, including London, Canada and some areas near Toronto.
Friday's storms affected an area under severe or even extreme drought, according to the United States Drought Monitor, though Saturday's storms are plodding across few drought-stricken areas.
Parts of Michigan have already received over 3 inches of rain recently, including Alaska, Michigan, which reported 3.42 inches of rain on Friday. Since July 1, Detroit's rainfall is running at 146% of normal, and Toronto has reached 157% of normal to this point in the month.
Due to this healthy helping of previously fallen rain, flooding rainfall will be possible from thunderstorms, especially where multiple storms occur. Low-lying areas can experience flash flooding on roadways. Motorists should never drive on a flooded road.
"It is often difficult to gauge the depth of water at night," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Ryan Adamson. He advises motorists to turn around and find an alternate route anytime water covers the roadway.
The cold front will continue to move eastward to finish out the weekend, bringing thunderstorms to places like Albany, New York, and Burlington, Vermont, a few of which could be severe. However, forecasters say the best chance for severe thunderstorms Sunday will be farther south.
"By Sunday afternoon, the most conducive conditions for severe thunderstorms are expected to stretch from eastern Pennsylvania to northern Kentucky," said Accuweather Meteorologist Jake Sojda.
"Damaging wind gusts will be the primary severe threat, but localized hail and flash flooding could still also occur with the strongest storms."
"Storms that develop on Sunday are likely to move to the East Coast by Sunday night," said Adamson. The severe threat is forecast to be lower by the time the thunderstorms arrive at the Atlantic Coast.
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