Severe Thunderstorm Threat, Including Tornadoes, Kicks Off Late Thursday in Plains, Sweeps Into South Friday, Saturday

Jonathan Belles
Published: March 22, 2017

Severe thunderstorms, including the threat of tornadoes, will rumble across portions of the Plains and South later this first week of spring.

The ingredients for this multi-day severe threat begin to come together on Thursday as an energetic upper-level system swings from the Southwest into the Plains states.

Winds at jet stream level are expected to be strong out of the southwest, which will contribute to the strong wind shear – change in wind speed and direction with height – needed to help sustain supercell thunderstorms. 

(MORE: Tornado Central)

At the surface, a strong area of low pressure is expected to develop in the central High Plains, which will then slide into the Midwest by Saturday.

Moisture will surge northward into the central Plains through late week, creating a buoyant environment for storms to take root in and grow vertically. Dew points in the 50s and 60s should be supportive of severe storm development, especially on Friday.

(MORE: Where to Expect Tornadoes in March)

There is uncertainty about how much deep moisture there will be and how far north the moisture will surge, which is one factor that will dictate how large this severe threat will become.

Check back with for the latest.


Late Thursday

  • Scattered severe storms should flare up along a dryline in the central and southern High Plains during the late afternoon, evening and overnight hours.
  • Large hail, damaging wind gusts and a few tornadoes are possible threats from any severe storms.
  • Gusty conditions are expected to develop along the Front Range from eastern New Mexico and southeastern Colorado eastward into the Plains states even well outside of storms. Wind gusts over 40 mph are likely. 
  • Storms that can hold together overnight will push eastward toward the Interstate 35 corridor from southern Kansas to Texas by daybreak Friday, although some weakening is anticipated with the loss of daytime heating.

Thunderstorm Forecast For Thursday Evening


  • The best chance for severe storms will be from central and east Texas, eastern Oklahoma and southeastern Kansas into parts of southwestern Missouri, western Arkansas and northwestern Louisiana.
  • Isolated strong to marginally severe storms may also reach as far north as southeastern Nebraska.
  • Damaging wind gusts and large hail will be possible, along with the threat of at least a few tornadoes.
  • These severe storms should persist Friday night in the lower Mississippi Valley region.
  • Locally heavy rain and flash flooding may also be threats. This appears to be a low-end threat. 

Thunderstorm Forecast For Friday


  • The cold front will slide across the Mississippi River into the Ohio Valley and South with showers and thunderstorms.
  • Severe storms are possible in parts of the lower and mid-Mississippi Valley into parts of the Deep South and possibly portions of the Ohio Valley and Tennessee Valley.
  • Damaging winds and hail, heavy rain and perhaps a tornado are the threats.

Thunderstorm Forecast For Saturday

Another round of severe storms is possible on Sunday and Monday in parts of the Plains and South. 

(MORE: Numerous Severe Weather Threats Likely to End March Like a Lion)

MORE: Tornadoes in the Midwest, March 6, 2017

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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