quote:Over 65 million people in central US at risk of severe weather outbreak
AccuWeather meteorologists say explosive thunderstorm development will occur on Friday, and the storms will threaten a large swath of the country that includes cities such as Chicago, St. Louis, Little Rock and Indianapolis.
At least 15 states will be at risk of an outbreak of violent thunderstorms that will unleash everything from damaging winds to tornadoes on Friday, AccuWeather meteorologists warn. The area highlighted by forecasters is a massive swath of the country that extends from Texas to Alabama in the South to areas farther north such as Wisconsin and Michigan.
The AccuWeather forecast team raised Friday’s risk of severe weather from moderate to a high level prior to the middle of the week, a sign of growing concern for the potential damage the storms could cause.
"While all modes of severe weather are likely during Friday's outbreak, there is a likelihood of widespread damaging winds from the storm with at least several tornadoes likely to be on the ground," AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said.
The area forecasters say is under a high risk extends from parts of eastern Iowa and southwestern Wisconsin to portions of northern Arkansas and western Tennessee.
According to the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center, more than 65 million Americans are at risk of some form of severe weather on Friday.
Major cities that are likely to be hit with severe thunderstorms capable of generating a tornado include St. Louis, Chicago, Indianapolis, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee. As the storms approach and push through the major metro areas, Federal Aviation Administration officials will likely issue ground stop orders on all flights.
In addition to the likelihood of damaging wind and the possibility of a tornado in the strongest storms, there is the potential for large hail, frequent lightning strikes and brief torrential downpours as well.
"The severe storms will approach and swing through the Chicago metro area sometime from 5-10 p.m. on Friday, which is an extremely busy time for airlines and vehicle traffic as people begin their weekend journeys and end their weekday activities," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham said.
The storms will likely push through St. Louis on Friday afternoon but may not hit Memphis and Indianapolis until well after dark.
A potent storm from the Pacific will re-energize after it crosses the Rockies on Thursday. The first few severe thunderstorms are likely to erupt in portions of Nebraska and Kansas late in the day and linger into Thursday night. These first storms have the potential to bring the full spectrum of severe weather but are likely to be isolated in nature.