Tornadoes and snow possible as spring storm system moves across the U.S.

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Tornadoes, heavy rain, strong winds and snow are in the forecast this week as a spring storm system makes its way across a large portion of the U.S.

About 38 million people from Texas to Illinois are at risk for severe storms that are predicted to fire up Monday afternoon and last through the night, according to forecasters. The latest models indicate Indianapolis could see severe weather from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and again from midnight to 5 a.m. Tuesday; Oklahoma City, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Dallas, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Austin, Texas, from 9 p.m. to midnight; and St. Louis, from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. Tuesday.

“All forms of severe weather will be possible” in these areas, according to the National Weather Service, including damaging winds gusting up to 60 mph, EF2 tornadoes and “very large” hail that is possibly 2 inches in diameter. EF2 tornadoes could bring wind gusts of 111 to 135 mph, according to the weather service. The biggest threat for the strong tornadoes is an area from northeast Oklahoma to central Missouri.

The tornadoes could come after dark, creating a dangerous situation. Studies have found that nighttime tornadoes are twice as deadly as daytime ones. “Be prepared to take action if watches and warnings are issued for your area,” the weather service advised.

What to expect

  • Monday: Intense storms from Texas to Illinois; heavy rain and flood risk increases in the Ohio River Valley.
  • Tuesday: Severe risk shifts east into the Tennessee and Ohio River Valley; heavy downpours could lead to localized flooding.
  • Wednesday: Heavy wet snow likely to develop for New England. Upward of 18 inches of snow is possible from the Great Lakes all the way into the interior New England and into Maine.

On Tuesday, the risk shifts east into Tennessee and the Ohio River Valley moving into the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, where rain is expected to last through Wednesday. Eight million people are under flood watches through Tuesday across the Ohio River Valley into the Appalachians, including Cincinnati and Columbus in Ohio and Charleston in West Virginia.

“There is a sight risk of excessive rainfall over parts of the Middle Mississippi and Ohio Valleys on Monday and over Eastern Ohio, Tennessee Valleys and Central Appalachians on Tuesday,” according to the weather service. Localized areas of severe flooding are possible from middle Mississippi to the central Appalachians.

When the storm shifts east Tuesday, rainfall could total up to 3 inches from Kansas City to New England. And parts of the north from the Great Lakes to New England could see up to 18 inches of snow Wednesday.

The same system brought torrential downpours to California over the Easter weekend.

In Santa Barbara County, some drivers were left stranded after severe flooding shut down a highway. Twila Douglas was driving up from Los Angeles when traffic came to a standstill.

“We heard this like raging water sound, and we’re like, this is not good at all,” she said after the experience.

A portion of the state’s scenic Highway 1 collapsed into the ocean during heavy rain, stranding drivers and shuttering a part of the highway near Big Sur.

Around noon on Sunday, crews determined that travel in the northbound lane was safe, and authorities began periodically escorting motorists around the damaged section. About 300 cars were waiting to travel northbound when officials led the first convoy through the area, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Some stranded motorists had to sleep in their cars while others were sheltered at the nearby Big Sur Lodge, the newspaper said. Two people were hospitalized with unspecified injuries.

Video from San Jose showed lightning striking scarily close to an airplane.

Up north in Truckee, which got 14 inches of snow this weekend, two people were killed in a single engine plane crash while attempting to land Saturday.

The victims were identified as Liron and Naomi Petrushka by UpWest, a company they invested in that supports Israeli entrepreneurs. Liron was a senior advisor at the seed fund, according to the company’s website.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash. Truckee is about 100 miles northeast of Sacramento.



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