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    Severe storm outbreak, tornadoes to hammer Texas to Illinois

    By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
    March 24, 2017, 3:26:20 AM EDT

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    Severe thunderstorms and the risk to lives and property will ramp up late this week over parts of the central United States as the first in a series of spring storms arrives.

    There is the potential for a significant severe weather outbreak that includes tornadoes spanning through Saturday.

    The overall severe storm threat will cover the full spectrum of dangerous weather ranging from wind gusts topping 60 mph and large hail to frequent lightning strikes and isolated flash flooding.

    "Given the time of the year, there will likely be at least a few tornadoes in the strongest storms into Saturday," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity.

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    "A combination of record warmth, surging moisture, a strong storm and shifting winds at different levels of the atmosphere, known as wind shear, will set the stage for severe weather beginning over the southern and central Plains," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Joe Lundberg.

    Following severe thunderstorms late Thursday across Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, a second round of severe weather will ignite on Friday.

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    A lull in the thunderstorm activity during Friday morning and midday may spare some areas the worst of the storms from Topeka and Wichita, Kansas, to Oklahoma City, and Dallas, Austin and San Antonio, Texas. However, storms are likely to ramp up just east of these areas during Friday afternoon.

    During Friday evening, the risk of violent storms will extend from eastern Kansas and western Missouri to northeastern Texas and western Louisiana. A few severe storms could fire over parts of central Kansas as well.

    The dangerous and potentially damaging storms will press toward the Mississippi River during the overnight hours on Friday.

    There will be the potential for severe thunderstorms over the lower Mississippi Valley and Delta region on Saturday.

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    People are urged to monitor the forecast and severe weather bulletins closely as they are issued.

    Additional rounds of severe weather are likely to follow over many of the same areas later this weekend and into next week. A long parade of storms will continue to roll in from the Pacific Ocean, move across the Intermountain West then reorganize over the Plains.

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