After a day expected to bring spotty severe thunderstorms with strong wind gusts and hail on Tuesday, a broad area of severe weather is forecast over the Central United States on Wednesday.
Warm, moist air will surge into the central and southern Plains to the Ohio Valley at midweek.
The severe weather risk area on Wednesday into Wednesday night is home to approximately 17 million people. The storms have the potential to bring damaging wind gusts, large hail and incidents of flash and urban flooding.
The area that could be hit by dangerous thunderstorms extends from just north of Dallas to near St. Louis, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Louisville, Kentucky. Locally severe storms are likely to pass through the metro areas of Oklahoma City; Fayetteville, Arkansas; Paducah, Kentucky; Evansville, Indiana; and Springfield, Missouri.
According to AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions Storm Warning Meteorologist Alex Avalos, "We expect a line of thunderstorms will develop and become severe in central Oklahoma during Wednesday afternoon."
"This line will then translate eastward into southern Missouri and northern Arkansas by dark on Wednesday."
People traveling through this area or spending time outdoors in the region should be on the lookout for rapidly changing weather conditions. Seek shelter indoors if a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning is issued.
According to AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity, "While only a small number of tornadoes is likely to occur with this event, the risk for a tornado and damaging wind gusts is slightly elevated in portions of central Oklahoma to north-central Texas and northwestern Arkansas."
"Odds are against a more robust severe weather threat from Missouri on northeastward with hail and heavy rain being the primary characteristics of the storms," Avalos said.
As a storm system swings to the northeast and chilly air settles in, the risk of severe thunderstorms will diminish by Thursday. However, as the severe thunderstorms collapse, several hours of drenching rain will occur from portions of Arkansas to the Ohio River Basin.
The heavy rainfall will be enough to cause streams to rise and raise new concerns about flooding toward the end of the week. Much of this region has received 3-6 inches of rain plus melting snow earlier in March.
Levels on the lower Ohio to part of the lower Mississippi rivers were hovering at minor to moderate flood stage this week, due to runoff from prior storms and thaw earlier this month.
Chilly air will continue to suppress the severe weather risk for most areas east of the Mississippi River into the weekend.