Storm chasers heading to Midwest ahead of strong storms expected this weekend

WEATHER FORECAST

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Storm chasers from all over the world are headed to the Midwest in anticipation of the strong storms that are expected this weekend, the National Weather Service said Tuesday.

“It’s a huge system coming off the Pacific (Ocean),” said Becky Kern, a weather service meteorologist based in Valley. “Ahead of that is where we’re expecting bouts of strong to severe thunderstorms.”

It’s too soon to pin down what kind of storms will pop up, Kern said, but severe weather is expected through the weekend across the region.

“It’s a big area” that could be affected, Kern said.

The fuel needed for storms — heat and humidity — will be in place later this week, with high temperatures close to 90 expected Thursday and in the upper 80s to 90s forecast for Friday.

The chances for severe weather are high Friday night through Sunday, with a reprieve Sunday evening before storm chances return Monday and Tuesday, Kern said.

“Our advice to anyone is to brush up on severe weather safety tips,” Kern said. “And stock those shelters if people have dedicated storm shelters.”

Kern also suggested that people with outdoor events planned have alternatives in place.

That’s not an option, of course, for the state track and field championships, scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the Burke High School stadium. Kern said the weather service works with officials from Douglas County Emergency Management and the Nebraska School Activities Association to keep them informed on what sort of weather could be on the way.

Nate Neuhaus, NSAA assistant director, said early Tuesday afternoon that he already had talked about the meet with the weather service.

“Our No. 1 priority would be to contest all events at Burke,” he said. “Lightning would obviously chase us off the track.”

Events could be delayed by the weather, Neuhaus said, but “we don’t have a lot of wiggle room with regards to rescheduling the state track meet.” High school graduations are scheduled for Sunday, he said, and “it would be hard to send people home and bring them back Monday and Tuesday.”

Officials will do everything they can to complete the meet, Neuhaus said: “We’ve just got to monitor and be ready to make decisions as needed.”

Competitors and coaches will be moved inside Burke High in the event of severe weather, Neuhaus said, but spectators will be encouraged to return to their vehicles.

To review lists of tips for dealing with storms, go to weather.gov/wrn/spring-safety.

Central Nebraska could see storms Friday, forecasters say

Central Nebraska looks to be “under the gun” Friday afternoon and evening for severe weather, a National Weather Service meteorologist said Wednesday.

A few isolated thunderstorms are possible for the area during that period, with hail up to 3 inches in diameter and wind gusts near 60 mph, the weather service said. Tornadoes also are possible.

In Omaha, meteorologist Taylor Nicolaisen said, the primary concern “will be damaging winds and maybe a threat of hail. Our tornado threat is quite a bit lower” than the threat west and northwest of the city.

Locally heavy rainfall also is possible, the weather service said.

Saturday, forecasters said, severe thunderstorms will be possible in the late afternoon and evening, primarily east of U.S. Highway 281, which runs north and south out of Grand Island. Hail up to the size of golf balls and wind gusts near 60 mph will be possible.

The storm system headed for Nebraska, Kansas and points south is expected to linger a few days, Nicolaisen said, which is why so many storm chasers have headed to Nebraska. “Some people make it their yearly week of storm chasing,” he said.

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