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    Tornado Outbreak Today: Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas

    By By Alex Sosnowski, Expert Senior Meteorologist
    April 15, 2011, 8:43:05 AM EDT

    The next major severe weather outbreak, including strong and devastating tornadoes, will take aim at the South Central states late this afternoon and tonight.

    Powerful and dangerous thunderstorms are expected to fire from northeastern Texas to southeastern Kansas late this afternoon as Meteorologist Andy Mussoline discussed recently.

    Next, the storms will march eastward to the Mississippi River tonight. On Friday, the severe weather danger will stretch from the Ohio Valley to the central Gulf Coast.

    The atmospheric setup should allow the formation of some strong tornadoes that could be on the ground for a number of miles.

    Cities at risk for these potentially devastating tornadoes late this afternoon into tonight include Wichita, Kan.; Tulsa, Okla.; McAlester, Okla.; Springfield, Mo.; Little Rock, Ark.; Paris, Texas; and Shreveport, La.

    While fortunately only a relatively few locations are hit during the biggest of outbreaks, the potential for damaging and life-threatening weather conditions exists nonetheless. As with prior outbreaks this month, people need to take the situation seriously.

    In addition to the risk of a few communities being hit with a tornado during this event, damaging wind gusts, large hail, frequent lighting and even flash flooding are also a concern and could cover a significantly larger area.


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    Atmospheric Dynamics

    A storm rolling eastward into Kansas will pull warm, humid air in close contact with dry air to the west and cold air aloft across the South Central states today.

    This storm system will have the coveted shifting and increasing winds with height allowing the storms to rotate.

    As we often see this time of the year, there will be a strong jet stream overhead, helping some of the storms drag these strong winds down to the surface.

    Tornadoes Are Not the Only Concern

    While a single tornado hitting a populated area can have devastating effects on lives and property, remember you do not need a tornado to bring significant risks to the same.

    Nine people were injured by a single lightning strike while at a dog show in Morgantown, N.C., this past weekend.


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    According to the National Weather Service, there have been over 5,300 reported incidents of severe weather so far this year through April 12. During first 12 days of April 2011 alone, there have been nearly 2,500 reported severe weather incidents.

    As storms approach, move indoors to an enclosed, framed building or get into your car or truck and stay there until the storm passes.

    If you can hear thunder, you are at risk for being struck by lightning.

    AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski contributed to the content of this story.

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