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Fox News Weather Center

Damaging winds, downpours to target Chicago, Indianapolis Tuesday

Severe thunderstorms are expected to blast across the Midwest on Tuesday as a potent area of low pressure takes shape across the Plains and travels eastward over the coming days.

While warm air and strong thunderstorms will be found out ahead of the storm system, northerly winds on the back side will help pull colder air out of Canada and into the northern United States bringing wet snow to some.

This storm system will have the potential to disrupt many events and activities from the Plains to the Midwest and Great Lakes on Tuesday through the end of the week.

Heavy and gusty thunderstorms to strike Midwest Tuesday

Powerful spring storm ahead for the Midwest

The ingredients are coming together for a round of severe thunderstorms on Tuesday across parts of the Midwest, including Chicago and Indianapolis.

"The storm system tracking across the Plains will be the trigger behind severe storms beginning Tuesday afternoon across the Midwest," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Becky Elliott.

Southerly winds out ahead will pull in warm and moist air that will provide the fuel for heavy thunderstorms while abundant energy and wind aloft will bring a risk for damaging wind gusts at the surface.

"Damaging winds and large hail will be the biggest threats with these storms as they rumble eastward Tuesday afternoon into Tuesday night, although an isolated tornado or two cannot be ruled out," said Elliott.

Motorists heading home after a long day at work may face these storms head on during the Tuesday evening commute. The storms are expected to roll through Chicago at this time and will make travel difficult as blinding downpours and gusty winds batter drivers.

The storms will push farther east on Tuesday night, eventually reaching Indianapolis. Wind gusts will be strong enough to bring down trees, wires and blow loose items around.

Primary elections in Illinois and Missouri will be disrupted on Tuesday due to rain and thunderstorms. Voters are urged to monitor AccuWeather MinuteCast® and wait to head to polling stations until after any violent storms have passed.

Now that the spring season is approaching, it is wise to begin preparing for severe weather. Folks should replace batteries in their weather radios and flashlights and have an emergency kit prepped and ready to go in case of an emergency.

Heavy rain will also extend northward and eastward affecting Wisconsin, Michigan and Ontario on Tuesday and Tuesday night.

Despite thunderstorms coming to an end on Tuesday night, howling westerly winds behind a cold front will still continue through Wednesday and could still cause problems with wind gusts occasionally to 45 mph.

Chilly air and wet snow to return across the Plains

While severe thunderstorms will strike out ahead of this storm system, the back side will feature chilly air and even some wet snow during the second half of the week.

The recent springlike warmth will be tamed and put to an end during the second half of this week for much of the north-central United States as colder Canadian air is pulled southward.

Highs in the 50s F and 60s F will be replaced with maximum temperatures only in the 30s and 40s for Thursday and Friday across the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Iowa. Temperatures at night will drop back down into the 20s and 30s.

Factoring in a brisk northerly wind, AccuWeather RealFeel Temperatures will be much lower across this area. Folks heading outside will have to dig out the winter apparel to battle the chilly air and biting wind.

While astronomical spring doesn't begin until next week, the recent warmth has made it feel more like spring and less like winter in this area. Some light wet snow will help to erase those warm thoughts during the second half of the week.

"This slow-moving storm will bring a prolonged period of light snow to the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin beginning Wednesday," said Elliott.

With most of the days above freezing and the sun angle increasing each day, accumulations are expected to remain low and confined to non-paved surfaces. The overall light intensity of the snow will also favor this as well.

Travel should not be impacted too greatly as roadways will remain just wet wherever snow does fall. Visibility could become disrupted though at times. Motorists and pedestrians will want to be on the lookout for wet spots at night that might turn icy.

This storm system will help bring a pattern change to much of the central United States that will feature a stretch of cooler days lasting through the first week of spring.