Fox News Weather Center

Thursday Tornado Risk Zone Spans 1,000 Miles, Population of 40 Million

With part of a multiple-day severe weather event forecast to continue, close to 40 million people will be at risk for violent and dangerous storms on Thursday from the Gulf Coast to the Ohio Valley.

Following a significant round of severe weather from Wednesday, the atmosphere will continue to energize on Thursday from the South Central states to part of the Midwest.

There are many communities at risk for severe weather on Thursday. Major cities in or near the alert area include Dallas, Houston; Shreveport, La.; Tulsa, Okla.; Little Rock and Fort Smith, Ark.; St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo.; Peoria, Ill.; Tupelo, Miss.; Memphis and Nashville, Tenn.; Paducah and Louisville, Ky.; Evansville and Indianapolis, Ind.; and Cincinnati.

According to Severe Weather Expert Henry Margusity, "Thursday will be a prime day for severe weather with risks ranging from damaging wind gusts and large hail to flash flooding and tornadoes spanning multiple states."

The severe weather risk will stretch along a nearly 1,000-mile-long swath.

Flight delays may be extensive Thursday as the storms approach and pass through many airline hubs. Travel along highways from I-10 to I-70 in the Central states could be dangerous, slow and disrupted for a time.

According to Severe Weather Meteorologist Justin Pullin, "The number of straight-line damaging wind gust incidents will far outnumber the amount of tornadoes as a cold front gathers forward speed and thunderstorms develop into a squall line."

A handful of tornadoes could also be scattered about ahead of the cold front Thursday.

According to AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Executive Mike Smith, "At this early stage, the area where there is the greatest risk for a couple of strong tornadoes on Thursday is from northeastern Oklahoma to southern Missouri and central and western Arkansas."

The threat of severe weather will continue to push eastward across the South, Ohio Valley and perhaps part of the lower Great Lakes into Friday.

April 3 and 4 mark the 40th anniversary of the Super Tornado Outbreak of April 1974, which centered on the Ohio and Tennessee valleys. The tornado outbreak from 1974 was one of the worst such events in U.S. history.

The number of tornadoes spanning this Thursday into Friday is forecast to fall well short of the event from 40 years ago. However, even one tornado hitting a populated area has the potential to bring disaster and great loss of life.