The same storm poised to unload up to 2 feet of snow and create blizzard conditions over the north-central United States also has the potential to bring severe weather, including tornadoes, farther south.
The area at greatest risk will extend from north-central Texas to southern Iowa and include central and eastern Oklahoma, northwestern Arkansas and southwestern and central Missouri. However, locally severe storms may erupt over areas to the north and south of this zone due to the presence of plenty of warm and humid air.
Cities at risk for severe storms include Springfield, Missouri; Fayetteville and Fort Smith, Arkansas; and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
AccuWeather Local StormMax™ wind gusts of 70 mph are predicted with this event. Gusts of this strength can break large tree limbs, knock over poorly-rooted trees, trigger power outages and cause minor property damage.
"There may be a few-hour-window into early Thursday evening where the setup is conducive for supercell thunderstorm formation and hence a risk of tornadoes," Jake Sojda, Accuweather meteorologist, said.
As the event unfolds into Thursday night, thunderstorms are likely to organize into a solid line, of which the greatest threat will be from strong wind gusts. If this line of thunderstorms remains intense through the night, the severe weather risk may extend farther to the south and east on Friday.
Flash flooding could occur in any severe thunderstorm or where downpours linger for more than a few minutes. The severe thunderstorms may also bring the risk of hail.
"The severe weather risk on Friday may extend across part of the lower Great Lakes and the Ohio Valley in the form of damaging wind gusts," Sojda said.
The period from Thursday to Friday will feature a classic autumn setup for severe weather with surging warm and humid air, charging cold air and a strong jet stream overhead.
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