OTTUMWA — A large swath of Iowa, including the Ottumwa area, could see strong storms Thursday.
Much of the state is at a slight risk, according to the Storm Prediction Center. It’s worth noting that several of the most serious outbreaks of severe weather over the past several years have taken place while the area was in that category.
Storms are almost a certainty. The National Weather Service forecast gave Ottumwa a 90 percent chance of thunderstorms after 2 p.m. Thursday, with the chances continuing into the overnight hours. Thursday’s high of 85, coupled with high humidity, will provide plenty of energy in the atmosphere when storms begin to form.
While the area is expected to see strong storms, the amount of rain is uncertain. Only a half-inch or so is forecast, though the NWS said higher amounts are possible in areas that find themselves under large thunderstorms.
Damaging winds were the biggest concerns for forecasters ahead of the expected storms. While any thunderstorm has the potential for flash flooding, the greater concerns with rain were in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The storms will usher in much cooler air, though it represents only a return to normal temperatures for mid-September. Highs Friday are expected to reach the upper 70s. It won’t last long. Highs in the 80s will return Saturday, along with another chance for rain, and temperatures will remain well above normal into next week.
Thursday will also mark the release of an updated assessment from the U.S. Drought Monitor. Last week’s assessment showed more than half of Iowa has slipped into the abnormally dry category, the first stage of the monitor’s five-stage drought assessment.