Over 40 million people are under severe storm threat this weekend

By Allison Chinchar, CNN Meteorologist

(CNN) – Two separate weather systems will bring severe storms to more than a dozen states this weekend, some of the same ones that were hit Friday night.

The system that brought over 150 severe storm reports to the central Plains on Friday will now push east on Saturday.

All severe weather hazards will be possible including damaging winds, hail, and tornadoes.

“Severe thunderstorms associated with a threat for wind damage and isolated large hail are possible on Saturday from the mid-Mississippi Valley northward into the western Great Lakes,” the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) said.

A level 2 out of 5 “slight” risk of severe storms has been issued and includes over 15 million people from Wisconsin to Arkansas, including Chicago and Indianapolis.

The best chance for severe storms to occur across this region will be in the afternoon and evening hours when the heating of the day has peaked.

While flooding may not be the primary concern with these storms, it is still something that needs to be monitored.

“The system as a whole should be undergoing weakening by this time, so most heavy rainfall ingredients should be on the decline as well,” the Weather Prediction Center (WPC) said. “With that said, we should have pretty good rainfall coverage and enough instability to support some locally intense rainfall rates.”

Widespread rainfall totals of 1 to 2 inches are forecast but some localized areas could see 3 to 4 inches of rain through the weekend.

“So while not currently expecting any major/widespread flooding to evolve, localized issues are a possibility,” the WPC said.

By Sunday, this first system will continue to shift east into the mid-Atlantic region.

Severe storms will be possible from western Pennsylvania down to the Virginia/Tennessee border in the latter half of the weekend. The primary threat will be damaging winds.

Double trouble for Texas
There will also be a new system moving through areas of Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma on Sunday, but before that system arrives, gusty winds will have already kicked up triggering an increased fire risk.

“Elevated fire weather conditions expected for Saturday with conditions being humidity driven with minimum relative humidity values as low as 10 percent,” the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Amarillo, Texas said.

Gusty winds will still be prevalent Saturday in the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma increasing the fire threat before any rain can arrive on Sunday.

The area needs rain. Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico all have areas suffering from level 4 ‘exceptional drought,’ the highest category possible.

While rain would be welcomed, lightning, hail, and tornadoes are a different story.

“If we happen to get some lightning strikes in that area, that can actually start fires where the grasses are already dry where they may not get a whole lot of rain as the storms move to the east,” Aaron Ward, the science and operations officer at the NWS Amarillo office told CNN. “So that’s another thing we’re going to be watching for, possible fire starts due to the lightning on Sunday.”

A level 2 out of 5 “slight” risk for severe storms is in place for portions of the High Plains on Sunday and includes the cities of Lubbock, Amarillo, and Abilene in Texas.

These thunderstorms are likely to bring all modes of severe weather, including very large hail.

“The main concerns right now, what we’re looking at, is going to be large to very large hail, and damaging winds,” Ward said. “The hail could easily be golf ball to baseball size if everything comes together right.”

The timing for the storms will mainly be in the afternoon and early evening hours, though some storms will linger into the overnight time frame.

On Monday, some of the same areas cleaning up storm damage from Friday night, will receive a second round of severe thunderstorms. From Abilene, Texas to St Louis, down to Memphis, damaging winds, large hail, and tornadoes can be expected.

CNN’s Caitlin Kaiser and Haley Brink contributed to this report.

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