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Severe storms target Nashville to New Orleans, Atlanta on Thursday

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A line of damaging thunderstorms will threaten parts of the southeastern United States into Thursday night.

Storms initiated along a powerful cold front across eastern Texas and parts of the central Plains Wednesday night. Widespread hail and wind damage was reported. These storms will shift east on Thursday.

"Severe weather will [continue] as the cold front slices into surging warm air," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said.

Cities at risk for violent thunderstorms on Thursday afternoon include New Orleans; Jackson, Mississippi; Nashville; and Huntsville, Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, Alabama.

Thunderstorms are not expected to lose much of their intensity as they shift farther eastward into the early evening hours.

The threat zone for Thursday evening includes Knoxville and Chattanooga, Tennessee; Montgomery, Alabama; Pensacola, Florida; and Atlanta.

While damaging winds will be the primary threat in these areas, a few isolated tornadoes cannot be ruled out.

The line of gusty thunderstorms could reach parts of northeastern Florida and the eastern Carolinas Friday afternoon.

Those outside enjoying the warm air should head indoors as soon as the first rumble of thunder is heard. Anyone who hears thunder is close enough to a thunderstorm to be struck by lightning.

Torrential downpours from these storms will also raise the concern for flash flooding, especially across the flood-ravaged lower Mississippi Valley.

Multi-vortex waterspouts swirl off Ft. Lauderdale coast

Despite the fast movement of these storms, it will be hard for any rainfall to absorb into the saturated ground.

Motorists should remain on alert for pooling of water in the roadways, especially in low-lying and poor drainage areas.

Once the front sweeps through the region, calmer and cooler weather is forecast to settle over the area Friday.