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Storms to carry severe weather, flood risks across large swath of U.S.

By Renee Duff
AccuWeather meteorologist

You don’t have to be directly struck by lightning. There are other ways you can get hit, which is why you should never underestimate a thunderstorm.

A stagnant weather pattern has set up across the central and eastern United States, sparking daily rounds of showers and heavy thunderstorms into the start of July.

The stormy conditions will not only bring hazards such as severe weather and flash flooding to some communities, but also make it difficult for residents to find extended dry periods to exercise outdoors and complete yard work.

“Showers and thunderstorms will erupt daily into the middle of the week along a nearly stationary frontal boundary stretching from the northern Plains to the southern Atlantic Seaboard,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Mary Gilbert said.

This boundary separates very humid air streaming in from the Gulf of Mexico from mainly dry and rather pleasant conditions across parts of the Great Lakes and the central Appalachians.

“Since this boundary will generally be sitting over the same corridor for several days, the flash flood risk will be heightened due to the repetitive nature of the downpours,” said Gilbert.

Rainfall may come down at a rate of 1-2 inches per hour in the heaviest thunderstorms, which will make it difficult for all of the water to absorb into the ground.

This past weekend, rainfall amounts of 4-8 inches were reported across parts of southern Indiana and Kentucky, which led to numerous reports of flooding. Flash flood watches remain in effect for these areas as more downpours are expected early this week.

During Sunday night, drenching rain set up around the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, unleashing 2-4 inches of rainfall as of early Monday morning and prompting flash flood warnings.

Those who live near small creeks and streams should be wary of sudden rises in water levels as the stormy pattern continues.

“Those who must travel will need to watch out for ponding on roadways, especially in poor drainage and low-lying areas, and should never drive through floodwaters,” Gilbert said.

Even in the absence of flooding, motorists may face slower-than-normal travel as rain reduces visibility on the roadways and creates a heightened risk of vehicles hydroplaning at highway speeds. These hazards can be experienced on stretches of interstates 35, 40, 55, 65, 70, 80, 90 and 94, to name a few.

Bismarck, North Dakota; Minneapolis; St. Louis; Louisville, Kentucky; and Nashville, are a handful of the cities that can experience rounds of showers and heavy thunderstorms into the middle of the week, along with a heightened risk of flooding.

A portion of the thunderstorms each day into Wednesday can bring additional hazards.

“Some of the thunderstorms can turn locally severe with damaging wind gusts being the primary risk,” Gilbert said.

Part of the northern Plains and upper Mississippi Valley faced severe weather to end the weekend, with hail, damaging winds, and even a few tornadoes reported.

While locally heavy and gusty thunderstorms can occur yet again on Monday from the northern Plains to the Carolinas, Tuesday and Tuesday night may be the period of greatest concern for severe weather in the pattern, especially across the northern and central Plains.

Residents are reminded that regardless of the severity of the thunderstorms each day, any thunderstorm can produce potentially deadly lightning strikes, thus making it vital to seek proper shelter indoors as soon as thunder is heard.

Indications point toward the stagnant pattern breaking down across the North Central states during the latter half of the week, with drier air returning.

The zone of stormy weather may shift southward to focus more on the Southern states during this time. AccuWeather meteorologists are actively monitoring a scenario that could bring days of heavy rainfall and a heightened flood risk to this region late in the week and during the first weekend of July.

Keep checking for updates on AccuWeather.com 

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