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Fox News Weather Center

Severe Storms Threaten 42 Million in the Midwest

As potent jet stream energy dives through the northern Plains, several rounds of dangerous thunderstorms will erupt from the Dakotas into the Midwest and western Great Lakes.

Some of the cities and towns most at risk include Minot, N.D.; Fargo, N.D.; Sioux Falls, S.D.; Minneapolis, Minn.; La Crosse, Wis.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Des Moines, Iowa; Chicago, Ill.; Fort Wayne, Ind. and Detroit, Mich.

The worst of the storms will bring damaging wind gusts as high as 60, 70 or even 80 mph. Large hail as big as golf balls or baseballs and a few tornadoes are also possible.

Wind gusts over 60 mph can uproot large trees, snap branches and down power lines, resulting in power outages. Winds this strong can also easily blow around any unsecured objects left outside.

Hail as large as golf balls or baseballs can cause severe injury to animals or people caught outside. Unprotected livestock are especially at risk. Hail of this size can also cause damage to vehicles, roofs on houses and crops such as corn.

Spotty drenching thunderstorms around in the morning will diminish toward noon, but more storms will fire later in the afternoon and evening hours.

The most dangerous storms are likely to fire in the evening hours into the overnight on Tuesday, especially from Minneapolis into Chicago and South Bend.

If you have any plans to be out and about on Tuesday or Tuesday night, you will need to pay special attention to the weather.

Once thunderstorms develop this afternoon, they will strengthen quickly, and dangerous conditions could follow soon after.

One added concern across the region will be very heavy, potentially flooding rain. This storm system will have the ability to produce a large area of 1-3 inches of rain, especially across areas such as Dubuque, Iowa; Madison, Wis. and Chicago, Ill.

Flash flooding can easily become life-threatening, and given the already saturated soil across the region, it will not take much rain to cause flooding.

Current technology has advanced enough over recent years to provide ample alert of the potential for severe weather and the approach of localized severe storms. Be sure to understand the difference between a watch and a warning. A watch means that an area is being monitored for dangerous weather. A warning means that dangerous weather is imminent. When a warning is issued, there may be too little time to travel across town or across a county to escape the storm. The time to have a plan of action and move to the general vicinity of a storm shelter or safe area is when a watch is issued.

Keep in mind that lightning is one of Mother Nature's most dangerous killers. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning, even if the sun is still shining.