Rockies could get more than a foot of snow, severe thunderstorms expected for tornado-ravaged areas

More than 30 million people across the South are at risk for damaging winds, hail and more tornadoes this Sunday.
Image: Chattanooga tornado
People clean up tornado damaged homes in Chattanooga, Tenn., on April 14, 2020.Mark Humphrey / AP

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By Kathryn Prociv

A large spring storm is developing in the center of the country that will have both a wintry side and a severe thunderstorm side.

Nearly 20 million people are under winter alerts stretching from the central Rockies to the southern Great Lakes and include Denver and Chicago.

On Thursday, heavy snow will fall over the central Rockies where 8 to 18 inches of snow could fall, with the highest amounts expected over northern Colorado. As this system enters the Central Plains Friday, a swath of wet snow is possible from Nebraska to parts of the Midwest and Great Lakes during the day, then eventually the Northeast and New England by Friday night.

The highest snow amounts east of the Rockies are expected to be along the border of Iowa and Missouri, where 8 to 12 inches could blanket the landscape. A strip of lighter snow amounts of 2 to 4 inches will stretch from the central Plains to interior Northeast.

In Denver, heavy snow Thursday could accumulate 3-7 inches. Friday will be Chicago’s day for snow, with the heaviest expected overnight and into the morning commute, as 2 to 4 inches are expected for the Windy City.

This storm system will also have a dangerous severe thunderstorm side this weekend. More than 30 million people are already under the risk of severe thunderstorms across the Gulf Coast and Southeast on Sunday. All hazards are possible including damaging winds, large hail and tornadoes. An early look at cities that could be impacted include Houston, New Orleans, Jackson, Mobil, Birmingham, Atlanta, Tallahassee and Charleston.

Unfortunately, this means some of the same areas hit hard by the recent deadly tornadoes could be in the risk zone yet again only one week later.

So far, more than 100 tornadoes have been confirmed from the recent outbreak, with more likely confirmed in the coming days as tornado surveys continue.

One of the most destructive tornadoes from the outbreak was an EF-4 tornado with winds up to 170 mph as it carved a path through Mississippi, including the town of Bassfield. Measured to have been more than two miles wide, it is now the widest tornado in Mississippi history.