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    Severe storms, powerful winds to rock central US early this week

    By Kristina Pydynowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
    March 06, 2017, 9:18:52 PM EST

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    For storm reports about the severe weather, click here.

    The central United States is bracing for severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and strong winds early this week.

    The clash between spring and winter will set the stage for severe weather to threaten communities from eastern Oklahoma and Arkansas to Minnesota into Monday night.

    "A line of thunderstorms will spread eastward into the mid-Mississippi Valley by late Monday night," AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions Storm Warning Meteorologist Alex Avalos said.

    Violent thunderstorms will also erupt northward into Minnesota into Monday evening.

    New severe Mar 6

    "The severe thunderstorms will be capable of producing mainly damaging winds and large hail," Avalos said.

    Tornadoes, a few of which can be particularly strong, can also touch down and further endanger lives and property.

    The tornado risk will be greatest into the evening and from Minnesota to eastern Kansas and western Missouri. This includes Minneapolis; Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Kansas City and Springfield, Missouri.

    "Any tornadoes that touch down after sunset will be especially dangerous for residents as they will be hard to see," AccuWeather Meteorologist Alyson Hoegg said.

    Residents are urged to keep cell phones and weather radios turned on to be alerted of vital warnings. Remember that a car is never a safe place to be during a tornado.

    Severe weather center
    North Central US interactive radar
    The difference between tornado watches and warnings

    Overnight, the thunderstorms will consolidate into a more organized line with damaging winds and downpours becoming the primary hazards. These violent thunderstorms will target St. Louis and Little Rock, Arkansas.

    "The risk for flash flooding will also be higher south of I-70 as the quick pace of the storms farther north will limit the danger," AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions Storm Warning Meteorologist Brian Knopick said.

    "I am especially concerned about the Ozark Mountain region of northern Arkansas and southern Missouri due to the terrain-enhancing rainfall."

    While the severity of the thunderstorms should not be as great as points to the west, heavy and gusty thunderstorms can still cause sporadic power outages and downed tree branches in Chicago and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Monday night.

    Any gusty thunderstorms tracking over areas still cleaning up from the recent severe weather outbreak could whip around lingering debris, threatening to cause additional damage and bodily harm to anyone who has not sought proper shelter.

    South storms March 6

    Some drenching and gusty thunderstorms may persist into Tuesday across the Tennessee and lower Mississippi valleys with isolated incidents of flash flooding, damaging winds and hail.

    These thunderstorms will rattle Lexington, Kentucky; Nashville; Birmingham, Alabama; Jackson, Mississippi; and Shreveport, Louisiana; before drier air sweeps in at midweek.

    The potency of the cold front will continue to wane as it reaches the East Coast on Tuesday night, sweeping away the warmth that will bring a 50-degree Fahrenheit temperature swing to the Northeast early this week.

    “While thunderstorms cannot be completely ruled out at this point in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, the front will pass through the region with what will likely be gusty rain showers,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Max Vido said.

    As was the case with the recent severe weather outbreak, winds will howl in the front’s wake.

    Fire Danger March 5

    The I-95 corridor of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast should escape a repeat of the recent gusts that howled to or past 50 mph as the strongest winds are expected to target the Plains and Great Lakes.

    Wind gusts of 50-60 mph, locally higher, will first whip the High Plains into Monday evening, keeping the fire danger extremely high in the southern High Plains. The combination of the wind and snow will lead to blizzard conditions in North Dakota into Monday night.

    Strong winds fanned a wildfire in central Kansas on Monday afternoon, forcing law enforcement to issue evacuations in Wilson, Kansas.

    A large brush fire also forced a section of I-70 in Kansas to be shut down late on Monday afternoon.

    There can be widespread gusts of 40-60 mph across the northern and central Plains and Great Lakes on Tuesday into Wednesday.

    Wind March 5

    “That will result in some travel delays at major airports across those regions,” Avalos said.

    Motorists could also face dangerous crosswinds, while power outages and downed trees may plague many communities.

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