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A stormy weekend is shaping up across the Plains states

Monthly tornado statistics spanning the period 2008 through mid-2014.
Monthly tornado statistics spanning the period 2008 through mid-2014.
NOAA/NWS and H. Michael Mogil

Although 2014 has seen an almost endless spate of severe weather and torrential rainfall, tornadoes have been conspicuously absent. For the months starting in December 2013 through and including May 2014, monthly tornado statistics have been below the three-year (2011-2013) and six-year (2008-2013) averages. So far, from June 1, 2014 through and including June 12, 2014, there have been 121 tornado reports U.S.-wide. This is approaching the three-year average, but is well below the six-year average (Fig. 1).

For the first 12 days of June, there have been around 3,000 total wind and hail reports nationwide. Two thousand have been thunderstorm-related wind gusts of 58 miles per hour or more; just below one thousand have been hail reports (1 inch diameter or more).

With tornado activity so low nationwide, it isn't surprising that twisters have spared at least some areas. In fact, according to the National Weather Service in Milwaukee, WI, the Badger state has yet to see a 2014 tornado. This places 2014 as the eighth latest start to the Wisconsin tornado season since 1950 (Fig. 2).

The tornado situation is set to change, as a strong upper level storm system moves toward and into the Northern Plains (Fig. 3). Today, some severe weather is possible across the Dakotas, Wyoming and Montana (Fig. 4). By Saturday (Jun. 14, 2014), the upper level storm system and a large area of diverging upper level winds will be able to interact with more favorable moist air from the Gulf of Mexico. This will help establish a moderate severe weather risk across Nebraska and Iowa (Fig. 5). A lesser risk of severe storms will affect much of the Central Plains. By Father’s Day Sunday (Jun. 15, 2014), a relatively narrow zone of potential severe storms will run from Illinois to Oklahoma (Fig. 6).

Linked to this severe storm potential will be a heavy rainfall risk. In fact, for the same three-day severe weather period just described, two to four inches of rain are expected from eastern Nebraska to Minnesota (Fig. 7). As is typical, local rainfall amounts can easily be double these numbers.

For the upcoming week, look for four to six inches of rainfall across Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota. At least two-inch rainfall maxima can be expected across Montana, the Northeast U.S. and south Florida (Fig. 8).

Of course, the four southwestern states most impacted by the current drought (Fig. 9) are not expected to see any rainfall of consequence for the next seven days.

© 2014 H. Michael Mogil