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Localized severe weather, flash flooding to put 40 million in US at risk

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
May 02, 2019, 8:50:03 PM EDT

Thunderstorms and torrential downpours are erupting along 1,200-mile-long swath of the central United States into Thursday night.

Approximately 40 million people from Texas to Ohio are at risk for severe thunderstorms and/or flash flooding.

This is part of an ongoing outbreak that has been affecting the Plains and Midwest since Tuesday. Severe thunderstorms yielded approximately two dozen tornado reports on Tuesday. At least 2 fatalities were reported due to flooding and powerful winds in Oklahoma, according to the Associated Press.

Large hail measuring 2.38 inches was spotted northeast of Waurika, Oklahoma, on Wednesday.

Over one dozen incidents of wind damage and nearly three dozen incidents of large hail were reported from northern Texas and eastern Oklahoma to Kentucky and Indiana on Wednesday.

In addition, there were several preliminary tornado reports in northern Texas and southern Oklahoma.

Wind gusts of 60-70 mph were measured near Marietta, Oklahoma, which knocked down trees and caused some damage to cars and homes.

More than a dozen states will be at risk for severe weather and/or flash flooding on Thursday.

Into Thursday night, the greatest threat for severe thunderstorms will continue over southwestern Texas with a second pocket of severe weather likely over the middle Mississippi and Ohio valleys.

Severe Thu Night 3 pm

The main threats from the storms into Thursday night are likely to be from damaging wind gusts and frequent lightning strikes, along with the ongoing urban flood potential.

Heavy to locally severe storms will likely occur in between both of these areas and may extend into parts of the central Appalachians and mid-Atlantic states.

Even though the risk of tornadoes will be lower on Thursday in comparison to that of Wednesday and especially Tuesday, there is still a chance of a few isolated tornadoes.

With events ramping up at Churchill Downs ahead of the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Kentucky, officials and spectators will need to monitor the risk for lightning into Friday.

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The most concentrated area of rain and risk of urban and small stream flooding through Thursday night is expected from central Arkansas to southern Indiana.

HR 3 pm

Part of this area is likely to receive 2-4 inches of rain with a daily AccuWeather StormMax™ of 7 inches. This is in addition to rain that has fallen early this week.

However, even in this heavy rainfall area, embedded thunderstorms can spark isolated severe thunderstorms.

On Friday, the overall threat of severe thunderstorms is forecast to be significantly lower.

However, there are still likely to be some heavy to locally severe storms in parts of central and southeastern Texas.

Friday Severe 3 pm

A small pocket with similar threats may center over parts of the mid-Atlantic and central Appalachians.

Friday Heavy 3 pm

As is often the case with any big thunderstorms or torrential downpours on a Friday afternoon and evening, weekend travel plans can get hammered right off the bat.

Download the free AccuWeather app to stay alert to storm warnings in your area. Keep checking back for updates on and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.

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