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Northern Plains not independent of severe weather ahead of July Fourth

AccuWeather logo AccuWeather 7/3/2020 Ryan Adamson

Meteorologists will be watching an area of the northern High Plains for severe thunderstorms Friday afternoon into Friday night.

As a ripple in the atmosphere moves out of the Rockies and across eastern Montana into the western Dakotas on Friday afternoon, the threat for thunderstorms will increase. In addition, the thunderstorms that develop will have plenty of moisture available.

"The threat for severe storms on Friday will be found near the northern edge of a plume of very moist air, which extends from the Gulf Coast to the Dakotas," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Matt Benz.

This northern edge of the moisture is defined by a front which is stalled over the area.

Given that it will take until late in the day Friday for the ripple in the atmosphere to move into the area of concern, storms are most likely to first develop during the afternoon hours. Furthermore, the storms are expected to lack organization initially.

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However, that does not mean the storms are to be taken lightly. In addition, any thunderstorm will contain dangerous lightning.

"Thunderstorms will initially develop individually Friday afternoon across eastern Montana as well as North and South Dakota, bringing the threat for hail and damaging winds," Benz said.

Late in the evening and especially overnight, the storms are forecast to become more organized and develop into a line.

"These storms are then expected to develop into a line of strong to severe storms that will sweep across North Dakota Friday night, bringing the threat for damaging winds and torrential downpours," Benz explained.

An AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 70 mph is forecast with the strongest of the storms that contain damaging winds.

For anyone traveling in the area, Interstate 94 is the most likely major highway to be affected. However, some of the severe weather may get as far south as Interstate 90, especially in western South Dakota.

Cities impacted will include Glendive, Montana; Williston and Bismarck, North Dakota; and Buffalo, South Dakota. Residents and visitors to the area who may be celebrating the holiday early will need to keep an eye to the sky and be prepared to seek shelter, should threatening weather approach.


While severe weather is less of a threat, anyone visiting Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, for the fireworks display on Friday evening will need to also pay close attention to the weather, as a thunderstorm or two will not be completely out of the question.

The risk of severe weather may linger into the Independence Day holiday itself on Saturday in a similar area, as the front will still be located in the same general vicinity.

Keep checking back on and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.


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