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April 26, 2014

Severe weather looms Sunday

OTTUMWA — Severe weather is expected to arrive Sunday and could continue Monday, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

Southern Iowa is in the slight risk category on the map released Saturday, but some forecasters think the area could be elevated to moderate or even severe risk by Sunday. The SPC has a large area of Iowa with an estimated 30 percent probability of severe weather and a 10 percent chance of “significant severe weather,” including very large hail and strong tornadoes.

Those numbers don’t sound big, but it translates to a one-in-three chance of being in weather that can do serious damage.

Zach Sharpe and Nathan Coy, forecasters for the Iowa Storm Chasing Network, said the big question for Iowa is going to be when storms fire up. If Sunday morning storms don’t form, the air temperatures will heat up faster. That could cause storms to explode later in the day.

For southeast Iowa, Sharpe and Coy don’t think tornadoes are the big risk. But strong winds and large hail are likely. And, as area residents have seen in the past, straight-line winds can do significant damage without a tornado ever touching down.

The risk is lower Monday, but the southeastern part of Iowa remains an area to watch.

Experts’ best advice remains to keep an eye on the weather. Be aware of changing conditions and keep a weather radio within earshot if you have one.

The Courier will provide updates on Facebook and Twitter when any formal watches or warnings are issued.

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