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    Powerful Storms Target Portions of the South, Plains

    April 2, 2012; 4:38 PM ET
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    Golf ball-sized hail. Photo courtesy of Photos.com

    Strong and damaging thunderstorms will erupt across much of the southern Plains and Texas as well as portions of Arkansas and Louisiana.

    In a setup more typical of late spring or early summer, the stage will be set for powerful storms to ignite as a storm system which barreled through the West this past weekend emerges out over the Plains this afternoon.

    Unusually warm and moist air will surge northward into the southern Plains and lower Mississippi Valley ahead of the system.

    AccuWeather.com meteorologists are concerned about two separate areas of severe weather.

    A line of severe thunderstorms has already been impacting eastern Texas and Louisiana with quarter-sized hail and damaging winds.

    **Some Severe Storm Damage Reports So Far: A semi truck was blown over 3 miles northeast of Lake Charles, La. Power was cut at the Louisiana Tech Campus in Lincoln Parish. High winds tore off the roof of a steel building at West Ouachita High School in Ouachita Parish, La.**

    These thunderstorms will continue to progress into southeastern Oklahoma, southern Arkansas and southern and central portions of Mississippi, while thunderstorms continue to fire across eastern Texas and Louisiana this evening.

    The primary threats with these strong thunderstorms will continue to be strong winds and hail.

    Those making the trip south along Interstate 49 from Shreveport, La., or Interstate 55 from Jackson, Miss., for the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Game in New Orleans should expect heavy downpours from the moisture-rich storms.

    If you become caught up in one of these storms while driving, it is recommended that you pull to the side of the road and wait it out.

    While a widespread outbreak is not expected across this region, an isolated tornado cannot be ruled out.

    Southern & Central Plains, Texas

    The weather will take a turn for the worse this evening and tonight in the southern Plains, following a dry and warm day.

    According to AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Dan DePodwin, "violent thunderstorms and a few tornadoes will target the corridor from Texas to Kansas starting late on Monday afternoon."

    Cities that will be at risk from these supercells late this afternoon include Dodge City and Wichita, Kan., Oklahoma City, Okla., and Abilene, Texas.

    DePodwin added that "the atmospheric setup looks conducive for widespread damaging winds, large hail and frequent lightning. A few tornadoes could touch down and downpours may also accompany the strongest thunderstorms."

    Photo of mammatus clouds on August 30, 2011 by Flickr user Laurent Silvani.

    Some of the hail produced from these storms will be very large, some exceeding 2 inches in diameter. Hail of this size can easily damage cars and any outdoor decorations you may have in the yard.

    By the late-evening hours, these supercells will morph into a line of nasty storms that will continue to prowl to the east on tonight into early on Tuesday morning.

    Tulsa, Okla., Little Rock, Ark., Dallas and San Antonio, Texas, will be in the line of these storms overnight.

    The storms will continue to produce damaging winds, large hail and even tornadoes.

    Although the threat for tornadoes looks to be rather marginal tonight, tornadoes at night can be particularly dangerous since you cannot see them. Residents in the areas which will be affected tonight are advised to keep their NOAA Weather Radios nearby throughout the night just in case a tornado should develop.

    More severe weather is expected to impact some of the same areas on Tuesday.

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