Mother's Day brings a risk of extremely severe weather conditions to Central Iowa. Central Iowa has the highest potential of seeing strong tornadoes late this afternoon and evening compared to the rest of the country. Here is why the situation is so high for our state.
A strong area of low pressure with a warm front will lift south to north across Iowa today. There will be some morning thunderstorms along that boundary. South of the warm front, a very warm moist airmass will set up for the remainder of the day. A strong cold front is waiting in the wings in Nebraska. This will push into the warm moist airmass over Iowa late this afternoon. If there has been enough clearing following the morning convection allowing for ample heating, individual supercell storms may form. These will be long lasting storms that could have rotating updrafts leading to the development of strong tornadoes that could be destructive and go for long stretches.
There will be a brief break for the early afternoon. As skies continue to clear and we see more sunshine and get more warming, a few individual storm cells may again begin to develop in Western Iowa after 2 PM. These storms will then push east towards the I-35 corridor through the early evening. These are the storms that may produce tornadoes. The area of coverage will expand through the evening and continue through midnight. The threat of tornadoes will lesson after 8 PM.
The severe weather threats on this Mother's Day include all modes: hail, damaging winds, tornadoes and even flash flooding (due to heavy rainfall in the storms). The morning threats are primarily hail and winds. The afternoon threats are very isolated hail, damaging winds and strong tornadoes, as this will mainly be a lull in the action. The severe weather threat picks up again after 5 PM through midnight. Damaging straight line winds, isolated tornadoes. and flash flooding are all possible.
There are many ways you can stay safe today. Have a NOAA Weather Radio turned on. This will sound warnings immediately. Have the 13 Warn Me App loaded on your smart phone. This will notify you when the WHO-HD Weather Team is going live on 13.2 with coverage on storms. You can watch the coverage live on your phone. The 13 Warn Me App also has live radar, so that you can look and see where storms are and where they are headed. Know where you will take cover if you find yourself under a tornado warning. The best location is to get underground in a basement or storm shelter. The next best place is an interior bathroom or closet on the first floor of your home or building. Added protection includes wearing helmets (including bicycle helmets or sports helmets). Many deaths in tornado outbreaks are due to head injuries. You can also cover yourself with a mattress or cushions from a couch. Get your shelter set and ready to go this morning. Put your helmets, flashlights, non-perishable foods, and pairs of shoes where you will be taking shelter. Have your cell phones charged and ready to go.