Historic Severe Weather Outbreak Rocks the Central U.S.

Central U.S. residents braced themselves for a “significant” tornado outbreak as severe weather warnings were issued from Texas to the Dakotas. The National Weather Service (NWS) forecasted multiple strong, long-tracked tornadoes, large hail, and severe thunderstorm gusts for parts of the south-central Plains. A “high risk” warning was also issued for Oklahoma and Kansas, which included the Oklahoma City metro area.

Source: WTVM

In Southeast Texas, residents continue to deal with the aftermath of heavy rains and flash floods that have hurt the region for the past week. Officials reported hundreds of high-water rescues, leaving parts of Harris, Montgomery, San Jacinto, Liberty, Walker, and Polk counties underwater for 4 days in a row.

Source: Weather.gov/Norman

In Central Texas, forecasters warned of a “significant” tornado outbreak starting Monday afternoon. Oklahoma City Public Schools and several metro-area school districts began canceling all after-school and evening activities ahead of the storms, while McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas relocated aircraft to minimize damage.

Source: Texas Monthly

Back in Southeast Texas, the situation remains dire as officials warn the public of potential catastrophic flooding. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo urged residents from the east fork of the San Jacinto River to evacuate, while Houston’s Mayor John Whitmire assessed damage from floodwaters and downed structures in Kingwood.

Source: KXXV

Nearby Dallas-Forth Worth metroplex was also affected by flash floods that forced cancellations for several schools and led to at least one death due to swift waters. The situation became so dire that officials urged residents to either hunker down or evacuate, depending on the area.

Source: ABC 33/40

The NWS issued warnings for hail, tornadoes, and damaging winds, explaining that the potential for severe weather was linked to high winds over Colorado and the High Plains. Matthew Elliott, the warning coordination meteorologist for the Storm Prediction Center, stated that this “significant” outbreak could trigger some hazardous tornadoes.

Source: WFAA

Elliott also noted that this was the first “high risk” warning since two were issued on March 31, 2023; a rare occurrence as these warnings are typically only issued once or twice a year. The Storm Prediction Center and other local governments urged residents to take precautions to protect their families and property from the impending severe weather.

Source: KMPH

Relief organizations like the Red Cross and Montgomery County Food Bank asked for donations to help those affected by the floods in Southeast Texas. As of Sunday, Harris County agencies had rescued 233 people and 164 pets since the flooding began. Meanwhile, neighboring counties reported destruction and a rising number of high-water rescues, with San Jacinto County reporting 62 rescues and Waller County reporting at least 10 more.