Severe Storms With Damaging Winds, Large Hail From the Plains to Northeast Early This Week, But May's Tornado Lull Continues

Brian Donegan
Published: May 14, 2018

Severe thunderstorms will remain a threat early this week from the Plains to the Northeast with damaging winds, hail and locally heavy rain.

Current Radar, Watches and Warnings

Washington's Dulles Airport issued a temporary ground stop early Monday evening as a line of severe thunderstorms approached the area. Runways reopened and ground operations resumed about an hour later.

These storms prompted a tornado warning just west of Washington D.C., including the area around Dulles Airport, as rotation was indicated on Doppler radar imagery. For safety, all passengers at the airport were sent underground to the train tunnel.

A National Weather Service employee spotted a funnel cloud in Ashburn, Virginia, just northwest of Dulles Airport, but there were no reports of it touching down.

In addition, golf ball-size hail – 1.75 inches in diameter – was reported in Reston, Virginia, with this line of severe storms. Wind damage was also observed there, with at least one large tree uprooted onto a garage.

Many people across the Washington D.C. metro area captured stunning photos of a shelf cloud as the thunderstorms moved in.

May is the month when the number of tornadoes most often peaks in the U.S. as the ingredients for severe thunderstorms typically come together, but despite the severe threat, the weather pattern early this week will not be very conducive for tornadoes.

(MORE: Tornado Central)

Severe Weather Forecast


  • Forecast: Severe thunderstorms are expected to develop ahead of a cold front in the mid-Atlantic states and southern New England. Another area of severe storms is possible in parts of Oklahoma, West Texas and eastern New Mexico.
  • Threats: Damaging wind gusts and some hail in the Northeast; mainly large hail and some damaging wind gusts in the southern Plains.

Tuesday's Severe Weather Forecast

Lull in Tornadic Activity in Most Active Time of Year

In the past week, we've only seen a few tornadoes in the U.S.

A tornado was confirmed in southeastern South Dakota last Tuesday evening and two others touched down in southern Wisconsin last Wednesday afternoon. Two additional tornadoes were reported last Wednesday into Thursday, one each in Montana and Nebraska.

This week, two tornadoes were confirmed in southwestern Pennsylvania Sunday evening.

In May, the area where the ingredients for tornadoes have a higher chance of coming together is from central Texas and western Louisiana into eastern South Dakota and southern Minnesota, as well as eastward into western Ohio.

Average tornado risk area for May.

Strong to violent tornadoes are more likely this time of year, and numerous historic tornado and severe weather outbreaks have occurred in May.

(MORE: 5 May Tornado Outbreaks That Had the Biggest Impacts)

Based on data from 1997 through 2016, the average number of tornadoes in the U.S. in May is 275 – notably higher than the second-highest month for tornado activity, June, which averages 215 twisters.

Brian Donegan is a meteorologist at Follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.