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Daily rounds of severe thunderstorms are expected to span from the Plains to the Appalachians

AccuWeather logo AccuWeather 7/3/2022 Brandon Buckingham

Residents across the northern Plains, Midwest and into the Appalachians will need to remain on alert over a multiday span as atmospheric conditions should prove to be conducive for multiple rounds of thunderstorm activity. AccuWeather meteorologists continue to monitor the potential for powerful thunderstorm complexes early this upcoming week, which could span hundreds of miles if conditions line up correctly.

The favorable weather pattern for a multiday thunderstorm risk is in response to a rather peculiar jet stream setup. A potent storm forcing cool air into the Northwest will clash with a dome of high pressure anchored over the Plains, setting the stage.

Before the end of the weekend, the zone of expected severe weather is expected to reside along the Front Range of the Rockies and downstream across the northern High Plains. Potentially destructive thunderstorms are possible across Montana late Sunday, with large hail and damaging wind gusts expected. Some thunderstorm wind gusts could even approach the AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 100 mph.

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Thunderstorm activity should roll well into the nighttime hours on Sunday across the northern Plains, potentially waking up residents across the Dakotas and into western Minnesota.

Many of the same areas that experience thunderstorm activity on Sunday can expect to face another threat for severe weather into the Independence Day holiday across the High Plains.

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One differing factor in Monday's forecast is that this threat is expected to expand eastward into the Midwest as well. With many cities hosting parades, festivals and firework celebrations on Monday, it will be prudent to keep a close eye on the radar ahead of any adverse weather.

Rochester, Minnesota, Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the Chicago metropolitan areas could experience some of Mother Nature's fireworks Monday evening instead of any regularly scheduled firework celebrations.

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This stormy pattern could contribute to even more flight delays at travel hubs across the region early this week. "Unfortunately, we think there will be many more flight delays and cancellations," AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jon Porter said of the travel rush at the end of the holiday weekend and days to follow.

It is possible that enough atmospheric energy could be bottled up across the Midwest to allow thunderstorm activity throughout the overnight hours right into the day on Tuesday. A general southeastward progression of the thunderstorm risk is anticipated, which would put the Ohio Valley and the central Appalachians next in line for damaging thunderstorms.

This period from Monday night into Tuesday will be closely monitored for potential derecho development across the Midwest.

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If a storm complex continues to cause damage continuously or intermittently for 400 miles or more along a 60-mile-wide or more swath, such a meteorological phenomenon is deemed a derecho, according to the Storm Prediction Center. The official derecho criteria were recently revised upward from 240 miles or more.

A derecho can be an especially devastating weather event that is sometimes likened to an inland hurricane. Recent derechos have caused extreme damage in the United States, particularly a derecho that caused widespread destruction across Iowa in August 2020. Ten years ago, a derecho charged 600 miles from the Midwest to the nation's capital, leaving a trail of destruction and knocking out power for more than a million.

Approximately 70% of all derechos occur during the warm months of May, June, July and August, according to the National Weather Service.

While a high-impact derecho would not be welcome by anyone in its path, one beneficial factor to the stormy pattern would be the beneficial rainfall. Abnormally dry conditions have expanded across the Midwest in recent weeks, so bouts of heavy rain would prove helpful in mitigating the expansion of any drought.

There is the potential for 1-3 inches of rain to fall through midweek in the zone from the northern Plains to the southern and central Appalachians. In some cases, much of this rain may fall in one or two rounds. In others, it may be smaller amounts on a daily basis. Just as local communities could be slammed by 3-6 inches of rain with much of that occurring on one or two episodes, other places could still dodge much of the rainfall through the week.

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"Thunderstorm complexes are responsible for about 60% of the rain during the summer months over a large portion of the Midwest," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dale Mohler said. "Corn needs about 1 inch of rain per week to do well."

The threat of rain is not expected to end after Tuesday's wet weather either, as another wave of showers and thunderstorms could march from the Dakotas through the western Great Lakes on Wednesday. A preview to the latter half of the week could feature a similar scenario from the northern Plains to the Ohio Valley and even into the Southeast.

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