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Severe storms with hail, tornadoes, and strong winds hit parts of Midwest and South, U.S., risk of severe thunderstorms continues into weekend


Severe storms with hail, tornadoes, and strong winds ripped through parts of the Midwest and South U.S. on Wednesday night, April 8, 2020, causing damage to many homes, especially in Indiana and Arkansas. According to the National Weather Sevice (NWS), the extreme weather threats will continue into the weekend as a stronger storm system moving across the Southern portion may generate more widespread severe thunderstorms.

As of Thursday, April 9, thousands of homes and businesses remained without electricity. More than 30 houses were partially or totally damaged by a tornado in Harrisburg in northwest Arkansas. Poinsett County Sheriff Kevin Molder said at least two people were injured.

The twister was captured on a video moving by the Claypool Reservoir, about 80 km (50 miles) of Tennessee. Hail also struck the area, leaving more than 4 000 people without power.

In Indiana, about 70 000 residential and commercial properties were left without electricity as well. Widespread damage was reported across the state following a hailstorm with high winds.

The storm blew off a building's second story in Mooresville. According to Police officer Brock Chipman, a woman sustained minor injuries after a power tower crashed on her car. Damages were also reported in Johnson county.

In Hancock county, a tower with a wind turbine and a tree collapsed onto two different homes in Greenfield. 

In Westfield, about 37 large power transmission towers were knocked down, said the Hamilton County Emergency Management Agency. More than 60 000 customers in Ohio remain without electricity Thursday. In Amberley Village, several trees collapsed on houses. Fallen trees also blocked roads in Mount Healthy.

Walls were ripped off homes in the Mount Zion community in Kentucky due to high winds. Houses near Maysville and Sardis were also affected.

An elderly woman was almost trapped in her home when strong winds hit West Virginia's Putnam County. Authorities said the woman did not sustain injuries.

NWS Charleston reported that two communication towers were knocked over near St. Albans. Roughly 16 000 customers in West Virginia did not have power on Thursday morning as well.

Two tornadoes ripped through Pennsylvania, tearing roofs off a church and a brewery in New Kensington. A hangar at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport was also hit.

"A storm system moving across the Southern and Eastern states will bring severe thunderstorms to parts of South Texas and the Mid-Atlantic states," NWS said on April 9.

"This storm will bring heavy snow and strong winds to northern New England into Friday. A stronger storm system moving across the Southern tier may produce more widespread severe thunderstorms, including tornadoes, this weekend."

The weather in the Northeast will be highlighted by a rapidly intensifying area of low pressure across New England tonight into early Friday, NWS forecasters Kong and Mullinax noted.

On the northern side of the storm, precipitation will fall in the form of wet snow across northern New England and will likely become heavy this evening. Winds will also become increasingly strong and gusty.

The storm center is forecast to track across Downeast Maine Friday morning and begin to move away into the Canadian Maritimes thereafter.

By the time the snow tapers off later in the day on Friday, over 30 cm (1 foot) of snow will have accumulated with some localized spots in northern Maine and New Hampshire picking up as much as 60 cm (2 feet).

In addition, lake effect snow showers will drop several inches of snow downwind of Lakes Erie and Ontario with 2.5 or 5 cm (1 – 2 inches) also possible in the central Appalachians.

To the south, a strong cold front is pushing the associated showers and thunderstorms off the East Coast before ushering in a much cooler and drier airmass across much of the eastern U.S. under blustery west to northwesterly winds.

Morning lows will dip to around freezing in portions of the Midwest Friday morning and across the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, below-freezing temperatures forecast for the northern part of the country Friday morning has prompted Freeze Warnings over parts of the central Plains.

The pesky upper-level low that has doused California with heavy rain and mountain snowfall since this past weekend will continue to meander across the Desert Southwest for one more day before drifting slowly away on Saturday.

Pacific moisture wrapping around the upper low will continue to produce coastal and valley rains with some snow in the higher elevations through tonight.

The upper low should begin to show signs of weakening on Friday as it drifts farther south to near the Mexican border. The upper low will then head for the southern Plains by Saturday setting the stage for what is potentially shaping up to be an active Easter weekend in terms of heavy rain and severe weather across the South. 

Meanwhile, the northern Rockies will see an increasing threat of snow as a cold front associated with a surge of cold Canadian air mass reaches the region. The snow could become heavy as the cold front pushes farther south into Wyoming during the day on Saturday.

Featured image credit: @Oakhurst_WX

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