Severe Weather to Hit Mississippi Valley Into Friday Morning

By Courtney Spamer, Meteorologist
February 21, 2014; 3:30 AM
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Dangerous thunderstorms will affect the Midwest and will reach southward to the Gulf Coast, threatening damaging winds and a few tornadoes into Thursday night.

Cass County, Illinois emergency managers reported a tornado Thursday afternoon. Just prior to that tornado siting, a funnel cloud was observed just to the southwest over Scott County, Ill.

A two-faced storm will affect the Central states, creating a drastic change in weather into Thursday night.

While snow will bring blizzard conditions to Minnesota and Wisconsin, thunderstorms will be brewing only a few hundred miles to the south.

Rain and thunderstorms affected areas from eastern Kansas and Missouri to Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and southern Wisconsin Thursday morning. Some locations over the central Plains experienced hail with the storms.

Rain and thunderstorms will advance into parts of Pennsylvania, New York state and southern Ontario Thursday evening.

In areas where there is a significant amount of snow on the ground, combined with the rain, there is a risk of flooding.

However, farther south, a new line of thunderstorms ignited Thursday afternoon and will reach from the Ohio Valley to the Gulf Coast into Thursday night. It is this zone that is likely to produce severe thunderstorms that are capable of producing damaging wind gusts, flash flooding and even a small number of tornadoes.

The greatest risk of a tornado reaches from central Illinois, Indiana, and western Ohio, southward to central Mississippi. The risk area includes the western and middle parts of Kentucky and Tennessee, as well as portions of Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois.

The storms could impact more than 30 million people in some way on into Thursday night in the Central states.

Strong winds gusting to 60 mph in the absence of thunderstorms were racing across southern Kansas, Oklahoma and northern Texas Thursday. The gusty winds have been kicking up dust and raising the fire danger in parts of the South Central states.

It is this energy that will cause the severe storms to ignite farther to the east.

Locations most at risk into Thursday evening include Indianapolis, Louisville and Jackson, Ky; Nashville and Memphis, Tenn.; Tupelo, Miss.; and Huntsville, Ala. During the overnight hours, the storms are scheduled to reach Pittsburgh; London, Ky.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; and New Orleans.

The cities of Chicago, Indianapolis and Detroit will receive drenching rain and locally gusty thunderstorms.

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The gusty winds with these storms will extend farther north Thursday night, reaching Great Lakes region and the central Appalachians.

These potentially severe storms will then move to the Atlantic coast on Friday.

Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski contributed content to this story.

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