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Explosive Storms Streak Across Western High Plains

UPDATED 7:45 PM MDT, October 6, 2011

UPDATED By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Fred Allen

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The same storm system responsible for unleashing record rain and the fall season`s first significant snow across the West is bringing a burst of severe weather to the western High Plains. Storms packing a punch with large hail and hurricane force wind gusts continue to streak across the Central U.S., with more likely to impact a bit further east across the east-central Plains on Friday.

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch remains in effect for extreme eastern Wyoming and adjacent western Nebraska and western South Dakota until 10 p.m. MDT. Rapid City, S.D., and Valentine and North Platte, Neb., are all included in the watch box.

A complex, but energetic storm system straddling the eastern slopes of the Rockies is drawing unusually warm and humid air north from the Gulf of Mexico. At the same time, strong daytime heating teaming up with a cold pool of air spilling into the Rockies is fueling the development of dangerous thunderstorms across the western High Plains. Thunderstorms are already rumbling ferociously across the countryside from western Nebraska to western and central South Dakota.

The thunderstorms will bulge eastward along a cold front emerging onto the Plains tonight and early on Friday. The primary concern with the thunderstorms will be destructive wind gusts reaching 75 mph, while large hail greater than golf ball size and even a tornado cannot be completely ruled out with the more intense storms.

Rapid City, S.D., Valentine, Neb., and McCook, Neb., will all need to be on high alert for these dangerous thunderstorms, while anyone residing along the U.S. Route 83 or 385 corridors will need to be prepared to take cover immediately if a storm develops.

Already, thunderstorms containing golf ball size hail pelted the community of Hermosa, S.D., while wind gusts were estimated near 70 mph in Merriman, Neb. A thunderstorm wind gust of 66 mph was measured at Faith, S.D., while Union Center, S.D., recorded a gust of 65 mph.

Headed into the conclusion of the work week, more than 850 miles of the Nation`s Midsection will be in contention for receiving a powerful thunderstorm. A cold front sweeping into warm, unstable air located across the east-central Plains, will trigger dangerous thunderstorms as a cold pool of air seeps onto the western High Plains.

Thunderstorms containing large hail, damaging wind gusts in excess of 60 mph and a few tornadoes will be possible from the Texas Panhandle all the way to the northern U.S. and Canada border. Omaha and Lincoln, Neb., Sioux Falls, S.D., International Falls, Minn., and Woodward, Okla., will all be at risk for the potentially destructive thunderstorms.

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