Over 80 million people at risk for severe storms, possible tornado outbreak, in the Midwest

Doyle Rice, USA TODAY

A violent severe storm outbreak is forecast to blast portions of the Midwest on Saturday, with northern Illinois and eastern Iowa at the epicenter of the predicted wild weather.

In all, over 80 million people may be at risk for severe thunderstorms at some point Saturday, the Storm Prediction Center said.

"A significant severe weather outbreak is possible," the Storm Prediction Center said, adding: "threats with the stronger storms include tornadoes ...large to very large hail, and severe gusts."

AccuWeather said that the severe weather threat may extend as far to the north as central Iowa and southern Wisconsin and as far to the south as northeastern Texas and northwestern Louisiana. Large metro areas of Chicago, St. Louis, Davenport, Iowa, and Little Rock, Arkansas, are among the areas at risk.

"Storms from northern Missouri and southern Iowa to central Illinois may have the greatest potential for tornadoes," AccuWeather meteorologist Brian Knopick said. 

An outbreak of severe weather and tornadoes is likely in the Midwest on Saturday, March 28, 2020.

As for timing, the threat of significant severe weather increases in the afternoon and will continue into the evening, Weather.com said.

The tornadoes that erupt have the potential to be strong and fast-moving, so people will need to have a plan of action in place before the storms strike.

"Keep in mind that shelter plans may be changed due to COVID-19," said Weather.com meteorologist Chris Dolce. "There is currently no federal guidance on the use of community tornado shelters during the coronavirus pandemic. Please check with your local authorities on the status of shelters in your area."

Which takes precedence?: Social distancing or tornado shelter?

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Weather forecast: Severe storms, tornadoes to hit Chicago, St. Louis