Severe Weather Season Cranks Up in the High Plains as Summer Begins


This map shows the historical probability (1982-2011) of a tornado occurring on June 10th within a 25 mile radius of a given point on the map. Courtesy: Storm Prediction Center; National Severe Storms Laboratory

This year’s severe weather season has begun for much of the Northern Great Plains, with multiple rounds of severe weather expected over the next 3 days in places like Montana, North & South Dakota, and Nebraska…

Right now, we’re seeing strong storms develop across a large part of the Eastern US, mostly due to the high summer humidity coming in from the Gulf of Mexico. There’s one thing that sets these strong storms apart from the severe storms expected in the High Plains: strong winds aloft.

Right now, the jet stream is currently situated to our the Northwest, over the Rocky Mountains & Northern High Plains. As temperatures heat up across the Sun Belt, this is where normally see the jet stream in June, as it starts to migrate farther North in the summer. In order to see organized severe weather and tornadoes, we need both strong winds aloft, and high low-level moisture.

The best combination of both of the jet stream & low-level moisture across the US shifts throughout the year. Below is an animation showing the approximate chance chance of a tornado forming within 25 miles of a given point on any given day, using historical storm reports between 1982 & 2011.

Courtesy: Storm Prediction Center; NSSL

As you can see above, in Alabama, we normally see a small peak in tornado activity during the month of November, followed by another larger peak during March and April. Then, as summer really begins in June, most of the highest chances move Northwest towards places like Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas.

With all of that being said, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing tornadoes now form in this part of the world, as we saw yesterday outside of Denver. Check out the video below:

Of course, summer months in Alabama means chances of airmass thunderstorms just about everyday in June, July, August. While these may not be as severe as the storms out West, always remember to be mindful of rogue storms we sometimes see fire up in the summer heat! When thunder roars, go indoors.

Stay in touch with me on social media! You can always find the latest on our forecast in Central AL on Twitter by following me, @GriffinHardyWX. You can always reach out to me with forecast questions anytime by sending an e-mail to

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