Severe Weather Threat Oklahoma to Pennsylvania Tonight

May 23, 2011; 12:00 PM ET
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The severe weather risk map for Monday shows a bulls-eye over the central Plains.

" The greatest threat will occur across eastern Oklahoma and southwestern Missouri, including Joplin, Mo..."

Update 9 p.m. EDT

Two police officers assisting with tornado recovery in Joplin, Mo., have been struck by lightning, according to news reports. The extent of their injuries is unknown at this time.

A storm over eastern Pennsylvania earlier brought wind damage to Sunbury, Pa., and also brought a report of a funnel cloud near Nazareth, Pa. Winds also gusted to 68 mph in Forks Township, Pa., from the same cell.

Winds with this complex moving through central Ohio and Kentucky continue to bring wind gusts to near 60 mph. Winds in Columbus gusted over 50 mph with this line, and this line will continue to push into Pennsylvania and West Virginia over the next few hours.

A possible tornado is passing from just north of Youngstown through west-central Pennsylvania. This storm brought tornado warnings and hail as large as baseballs in eastern Ohio earlier this evening.

As for tornadoes, at least nine have been reported in Oklahoma, Indiana and Ohio, with damage ranging from downed tree limbs to building damage.

Photo of wind damage from Terre Haute, Ind., courtesy of Facebook Fan Michael G.

The greatest threat for severe weather late this evening will occur across central and eastern Oklahoma into southwestern Missouri, including Joplin, Mo., which was hit hard by a devastating tornado on Sunday.

The main threats from thunderstorms will be large hail, wind gusts in excess of 60 mph, torrential downpours and additional tornadoes.

Anyone in these areas should be prepared for threatening weather with an evacuation plan, flashlight, radio and batteries.

Thunderstorms will continue to develop and intensify into this evening creating dangerous travel problems along Interstates 40 and 44 in the southern Plains.

The severe weather threat extends from the central Plains eastward through the Ohio Valley and into the mid-Atlantic where multiple complexes of thunderstorms are already ongoing.

Thunderstorms in the East will contain mainly gusty winds and hail, although the strongest storms could spawn an isolated tornado.

Areas that could experience severe weather include, Pittsburgh, Louisville, St. Louis, and Oklahoma City.

Anyone in these areas should expect travel delays, especially into the evening hours.

These storms will develop along a stationary front separating very steamy air to the south and drier, cooler air to the north.


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