As a storm moves out of the Rockies, the risk of violent thunderstorms, some capable of producing a tornado, will progress slowly eastward across the Plains Tuesday and Wednesday.
The storms will threaten lives and property and bring the risk of power outages and travel delays.
The first storms erupted Sunday in portions of Kansas and Missouri, but they were merely a small preview of what is expected to unfold this week over the middle of the nation.
The storms have the potential to cross through some or all of these major metropolitan areas over the Plains and Mississippi Valley, including Austin, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Little Rock, Memphis, Oklahoma City, Omaha, San Antonio, Shreveport, Springfield, Mo., Springfield, Ill., St. Louis, Topeka, Tulsa and Wichita.
The storms will bring the full spectrum of severe weather ranging from large hail and damaging wind gusts to flash flooding and frequent lightning strikes. There is also the potential for the storms to produce strong tornadoes into Tuesday evening.
During Tuesday, severe thunderstorms will stretch from central Kansas, southward to west-central Texas.
During Tuesday night, the storms will extend from southern Iowa to central Texas.
During Wednesday, the storms will swing farther east at increasing forwards speed reaching the Mississippi River.
By the time the storms reach the Mississippi River, they are likely to organize into a squall line. However, while the risk of strong tornadoes may be significantly lower in this phase, there is still the potential for damaging wind gusts, hail and flash flooding.
People within or near the red highlighted areas should be on the lookout for rapidly changing and potentially dangerous weather conditions.
Severe thunderstorm or tornado watch areas will follow in all or part of these regions generally when storms can affect an area within six to eight hours.
When a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning is issued, it is a time for action as life-threatening conditions are possible within minutes.
Thumbnail images of a tornado by Steve Tegtmeier of the National Severe Storm Laboratory.