The beginning of the Easter holiday weekend threatens to be ruined by an outbreak of severe weather across the nation's southern midsection.
Severe thunderstorms will begin to fire overnight from just west of Wichita, Kan., to north of Abilene, Texas. A secondary area of thunderstorms can fire over the central and eastern Dakotas.
The strongest storms over the southern Plains tonight into Friday morning will produce large hail and damaging wind gusts. A couple of tornadoes could be triggered as well. Over the Dakotas, the main threat from the storms overnight is for large hail.
Friday afternoon into the evening is when numerous powerful thunderstorms will slam places from southeastern Kansas and southwestern Missouri to the Arklatex. The thunderstorms will cross the Mississippi River into Tennessee and Mississippi late Friday night.
The severe weather outbreak will begin to impact the following cities Friday afternoon: Oklahoma City, Okla.; Tulsa, Okla.; Chanute, Kan.; Fayetteville, Ark.; and Dallas, Texas.
The threat will expand Friday night to include Springfield, Mo.; Little Rock, Ark.; Memphis, Tenn.; Shreveport, La.; and Tyler, Texas.
If you live or are visiting the areas being threatened, be sure to seek shelter immediately if a warning is issued. Significant property damage could result as the strongest thunderstorms unleash powerful wind gusts and pounding hail.
Motorists will also be at risk as the hail threatens to damage windshields. The winds could overturn semi-trucks or campers.
The potential exists for a few tornadoes to touch down. Remember loss of life and tremendous destruction could result from just one tornado tearing through a community.
Downpours accompanying some of the thunderstorms will worsen the situation by further reducing visibility for motorists and potentially triggering flash flooding.
Flooding problems may also arise across the central Plains on Friday. The same storm igniting the severe weather is expected to produce heavy rain across northeastern Kansas, western Iowa and northwestern Missouri. The band of rain should shift to the Mississippi River at night.
Thunderstorms will rumble on Saturday from the central Gulf Coast to the Ohio Valley. While widespread severe weather is not anticipated, any of these thunderstorms will spark cloud to ground lightning. If you hear thunder, you are close enough to get struck.
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