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Fox News Weather Center

Severe Storms to Strike Ohio Valley, Mid-Atlantic Thursday

A batch of storms gathering strength over the central Plains at midweek will torment areas from the Ohio Valley into the mid-Atlantic.

The storms will target the Ohio Valley on Thursday into Thursday evening.

While the exact intensity of the individual storms at the local level cannot be determined this far out, there is the potential for damaging wind gusts, hail and frequent lightning strikes. A couple of tornadoes could develop in the strongest of storms.

The atmospheric setup on Thursday is not likely to trigger a long-lived and widespread high wind event, known as a derecho. A derecho affected parts of the Plains and Midwest on Monday.

According to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity, "We don't have strong low-level and upper-level winds with this to support an event such as the derecho from Monday."

The setup favors short-lived, small lines of gusty storms.

From late Thursday into Thursday night, heavy and gusty storms will hit areas from southern Pennsylvania and central New Jersey to West Virginia, northern Virginia and the Delmarva Peninsula.

Storms at the local level in the lower mid-Atlantic and over the Ohio Valley can become severe with the potential for brief squall line activity and perhaps isolated downburst winds. A downburst occurs as rapidly descending air in a thunderstorm spreads horizontally at high speed upon reaching the ground.

According to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams, downburst winds can blast through a narrow zone like bowling balls in a bowling alley.

"Trees and utility poles are the pins, and with the strike of a hurricane-force gust, a neighborhood can change from beautiful and orderly to a mangled debris field in a matter of minutes," Abrams said.

Throughout the swath from the Ohio Valley to the mid-Atlantic, there is the potential for flash and urban flooding, regardless of how dry or wet locations have been.

The wet ground, water-logged limbs and locally strong wind gusts could lead to a higher number of fallen trees and power outages.

In areas where heavy rain has fallen in recent days, the risk of flooding will expand to small streams in parts of the mid-Atlantic and to more of the rivers over the Midwest.

AccuWeather will have more information on the flooding threat in the coming days, especially as a slow-moving storm with cold season characteristics takes shape this weekend.