Storms across High Plains may complicate Memorial Day holiday plans

By Brandon Buckingham,
Hailstones, extreme wind gusts, tornadoes and flash flooding could be in store from northern Mexico to far southern Saskatchewan, Canada. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Hailstones, extreme wind gusts, tornadoes and flash flooding could be in store from northern Mexico to far southern Saskatchewan, Canada. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Memorial Day holiday plans by residents of the High Plains from west Texas to the Dakotas could be complicated by storms this weekend, forecasters said Saturday.

The Great Plains have experienced quite a wild month of May thus far, with many cities recording rainfall totals that are above what typically occurs. In addition to the rainfall, a slew of hazardous conditions have accompanied the rain as well.


Massive hailstones, extreme wind gusts, tornadoes and flash flooding have all occurred on a near-daily basis recently across west Texas, New Mexico, western Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas, and that is expected to continue right through the holiday weekend.

The severe weather threat to kick off the weekend will span over 1,300 miles south to north across the High Plains from northern Mexico to far southern Saskatchewan. A multitude of severe weather hazards are forecast to occur within this zone, including large hail, torrential downpours, frequent lightning strikes and damaging wind gusts.

"Large, damaging hail will be possible within a narrow east-west zone extending from far southern Saskatchewan through the Big Bend of Texas, including eastern Montana and parts of Colorado and New Mexico east of Interstate 25. Intense wind gusts could even lead to areas of localized blowing dust in some spots," AccuWeather meteorologist La Troy Thornton stated.


Locations that fall within this zone on Saturday include Rapid City, South Dakota, Cheyenne, Wyoming, Denver, Goodland, Kansas and Amarillo, Texas.

The general time frame for severe activity will largely reside within the afternoon and evening hours in these locations before thunderstorm activity subsides late Saturday night.

Into the day on Sunday, a nearly identical set up for severe weather is expected once again across the Plains. Many of the same areas that faced a severe weather risk on Saturday can once again experience similar conditions.

With area campgrounds full for the holiday and a plethora of outdoor activities slated to occur this weekend and on Memorial Day, it will be imperative to keep a close eye on the sky for conditions that can change rapidly. Thunderstorms of this nature can go from a seemingly harmless cumulus cloud to a 3-inch hail producing monster in a matter of under an hour.

Hail of this nature can wreak havoc along many interstates this weekend as well. From Interstate 10 in Texas to Interstate 94 in North Dakota, motorists will want to look out for, and seek a safe place if caught within a storm like this.

Into the day on Monday, Memorial Day, the risk for severe thunderstorms is expected to become more localized across the Plains, focusing primarily across the Dakotas and into southern Canada. While there can be pockets of rain and thunderstorms across the rest of the Plains, the extent of severe thunderstorms will likely be limited.


Looking beyond the holiday weekend, additional rounds of rain and thunderstorms are expected to further put a dent in the drought conditions next week, especially across the southern Plains.

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