Parts of Plains, Midwest put on alert for damaging storms into Friday
After storms target the Dakotas on Thursday, cities like Chicago and Milwaukee will face the risk of damaging storms Friday.
An uptick in heat and humidity in the north-central United States into Friday will be accompanied by potentially damaging thunderstorms and the threat for flash flooding.
"A disturbance shifting southward out of Canada will meet a surge of hot and humid air across the northern and central Plains and Midwest," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Bob Smerbeck said.
High temperatures were 5-10 degrees below normal for some locations across the northern Plains at the start of the week, but climbed into the upper 80s to low 90s across the region during Thursday afternoon. Thursday's highs were about 5-10 degrees above normal in places like Bismarck and Fargo, North Dakota.
On Thursday, hail up to the size of a baseball were reported by the National Weather Service across the Plains.
Friday the threat for severe thunderstorms will shift south and east, stretching from the central Plains to the Great Lakes.
"Thunderstorms will follow a similar evolution on Friday, mainly bringing a damaging wind and hail threat as they form initially in the afternoon, with an additional flash flood threat increasing as the afternoon and evening progresses and storms congeal into larger lines and clusters," explained AccuWeather Meteorologist Matt Benz.
The torrential downpours could slow down travel at times along major thoroughfares such as interstates 35, 80, 90 and 94 and could result in flooding and road closures on secondary local routes.
Flash flooding is the second-deadliest weather threat each year behind only heat, according to the National Weather Service (NWS), and motorists are urged to "turn around, don't drown" when encountering any flooded roadway.
Strong thunderstorm wind gusts can also threaten high-profile vehicles, while hail can cause damage to vehicles, homes and crops.
"If you're traveling 60 or 70 mph down an interstate and run into severe hail (1-inch or greater in diamter), it can easily cause cracked or even shattered windows depending on just how large the hail is," Benz commented.
Those getting an early start to the weekend with outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, boating or camping should make sure to have a way to receive weather alerts and have a plan to seek shelter from lightning, strong wind gusts and hail.
An empty beach chair and umbrella sits on Hollywood Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013 as afternoon thunderstorms begin to build. Beachgoers in parts of the Great Lakes will have to watch for building thunderstorms later this week. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
"Lake Michigan is a popular place for those who love getting outdoors this time of year," said AccuWeather Meteorologist and Michigan native Brandon Buckingham. "But anyone heading there, or any other lakes, reservoirs, campgrounds or hiking areas from the northern Plains to western Great Lakes will want to keep a close eye on the skies at the end of this week."
The risk of severe weather will shift into part of the Northeast on Saturday.
Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.
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