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Plains under the gun Monday for more tornadoes

After a weekend of severe storms and tornadoes in the Plains, another round is likely Monday. Truckers will have to be on their toes.

The National Weather Service received more than 500 reports of tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail Friday through Sunday, most of them in parts of the heartland.

The strongest tornado so far heavily damaged Andover, Kansas, a suburb of Wichita. The NWS rated it an EF3, saying winds peaked around 165 mph based on the damage. A few people were injured, but nobody was killed.

Another strong low pressure system and associated cold front will move through the region Monday. The clash of cooler, drier air behind the front and warmer, humid air ahead of it will help spark thunderstorms that are likely to turn severe again in many spots.

The best chances will be from northern Texas to near Kansas City and points eastward to the Missouri Bootheel and northeastern Arkansas. Other cities in the potential path include Wichita Falls, Texas; Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Wichita (again) and Topeka, Kansas; Springfield, Missouri; as well as Jonesboro, Arkansas.

Look for scattered areas of severe winds of up to 60 mph, along with numerous areas of large hail that may be golfball size or bigger in some places.

Particularly dangerous tornadoes, EF2 or stronger, could develop from the Oklahoma City area to southeastern Kansas, including Wichita.

Severe storms will be more isolated in areas from central Texas to western Tennessee, northern Missouri, central Kansas and western Oklahoma. The odds for tornadoes in these locations are much lower.

The risk for severe storms and a few tornadoes moves to the Midwest and Ohio Valley on Tuesday, but could return to the Plains on Wednesday.

Tornadoes of any magnitude can develop quickly and move at speeds of up to 60 mph. Despite advancements in forecasting, lead times of just 10 to 20 minutes are common for seeking safety once the NWS issues a tornado warning, and truckers don’t want to cross paths with these storms.

Their best defense is using a reliable weather app on mobile devices. If the app is set to GPS or location mode, drivers will receive local tornado and other severe weather alerts no matter where they happen to be along their routes, as long as cell reception isn’t disrupted. Portable NOAA Weather Radios are also available at many electronic stores and large retail stores.

Major lanes of concern

  • Interstate 35 from Dallas to Kansas City.
  • Interstate 40 from Oklahoma City to Memphis, Tennessee.
  • Interstate 44 from Oklahoma City to St. Louis.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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