Severe storms, baseball-sized hail cause widespread power outages from the southern Plains to the Northeast, U.S.

goes-east 14z july 20 2023 f

Severe storms, characterized by high winds and large hail, swept across the United States from the southern Plains to the Northeast on Thursday, July 20, 2023, resulting in one fatality and leaving more than 500 000 customers without power. The storms, which reached their height in the evening, caused widespread damage to crops, trees, and buildings.

As per data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Storm Prediction Center, more than 500 instances of high winds and large hail damage were reported on Thursday, a consequence of a series of frontal boundaries turning severe.

One death was recorded in Van Wert County, Ohio, after a large tree fell onto a house, trapping an elderly couple. The local wind gauge recorded gusts of around 64 km/h (40 mph) as a thunderstorm blew through.

During the height of the severe storms, power outages escalated beyond half a million, as per data from PowerOutage.us. Even as of Friday morning (LT), nearly 300 000 customers remained without power across the impacted regions. The states hit hardest, namely Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, were struggling with extensive damage to trees and power lines due to strong wind gusts. Wilmington, Ohio, and Romulus, Michigan, recorded gusts of 114 km/h (71 mph) and 100 km/h (62 mph) respectively.

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Georgia Power reported their crews working diligently to repair lines in the eastern and northern parts of the state following several reports of fallen trees and power lines, particularly around Athens. Meanwhile, Genesee County, Michigan residents faced the largest threat of hail, some as large as tennis balls or even baseballs. The hailstones caused significant damage to homes, vehicles, and other outdoor objects.

The storms also brought heavy rainfall. The National Weather Service issued warnings for a life-threatening thunderstorm in the Nashville area, with wind gusts of up to 128 km/h (80 mph) and substantial rainfall recorded in Mount Juliet, Tennessee.

An EF-3 tornado, the strongest ever observed in North Carolina in July, was also reported earlier in the week, wreaking havoc over more than 25 km (16 miles) with winds estimated to be 241 km/h (150 mph), but no fatalities were reported from this.

The weather forecasts suggest continued thunderstorms over the next few days due to a cold front sweeping through the East Coast and Southeast, with an upper trough centered over Hudson Bay supporting a surface low-pressure system moving through the interior Northeast today.

The temperatures are expected to drop off substantially on the backside of the cold front, with highs likely to be in the range of 21 – 27 °C (70 – 80 °F) across the Great Plains and Midwest through Saturday, which will be 5 – 15 °C (10 – 25 °F) below average for this time of year.

References:

1 Deadly storms bring baseball-sized hail, leaves 300,000 without power across US as more severe storms loom – Fox Weather – July 21, 2023

2 Short Range Forecast Discussion – NWS Weather Prediction Center College Park MD – 350 AM EDT Fri Jul 21 2023

Featured image credit: NOAA/GOES-East, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers. Acquired at 14:00 UTC on July 20, 2023

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