AccuWeather.com reports more than 40 million people in the Central states and 20 million along the Atlantic coast will be at risk for severe weather later this week. In our area, high winds of up to 60 mph are expected Thursday night.
The air will become warm enough ahead of a late-week storm over the Missouri and Mississippi valleys, as well as portions of the East to bring not only thunderstorms, but also the potential for severe weather.
The main threats of the storms will be locally damaging wind gusts and flash flooding. A number of locations may also experience hail with the storms. A small number of the storms could also produce a tornado.
According to Severe Weather Expert Henry Margusity, "The greatest risk for a few tornadoes will be where the air is the warmest and most humid, which is most likely from western Tennessee to northwestern Mississippi on Thursday."
The potential for damaging thunderstorms by Thursday will reach from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, as well as the southern port of Lower Michigan.
Cities on Thursday that could be impacted by gusty strong to severe thunderstorms include St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo.; Indianapolis; Cincinnati; Nashville and Memphis, Tenn.; Little Rock, Ark.; Louisville, Ky.; Jackson, Miss.; and Monroe, La.
While snow on the ground will limit the intensity of some of the storms, it will not eliminate the risk of severe weather everywhere.
Even in the absence of thunderstorms locally strong wind gusts can affect areas from the Midwest to upstate New York on Thursday.
On Friday, the potential for strong to severe storms will reach from Georgia to New Jersey.
The storms could hit some Northern states, where there is still snow on the ground.
The combination of a surge of warm air and rainfall will raise the risk of ice jam flooding on some streams and rivers from the lower Midwest to the mid-Atlantic.
The weight of recent snowfall and the added rain coming with the storm could be enough to stress some roofs to the point of failure.
Melting snow ahead of and during the passage of a cold front associated with the storm can lead to street and poor drainage area flooding, where storm drains have become blocked with snow.
By Alex Sosnowski, Expert Senior Meteorologist for AccuWeather.com