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Feisty thunderstorms to sweep from Chicago to New York City

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Storms could pack a punch at the local level in portions of the central United States on Friday and in parts of the mid-Atlantic on Saturday.

A rather vigorous cold front will ignite the locally severe storms, following quickly on the heels of a round of heavy and gusty thunderstorms.

Major cities that could be hit by the storms include Chicago; Omaha, Nebraska; Kansas City, Missouri; Des Moines, Iowa; Albany, New York; Richmond, Virginia; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; Philadelphia and New York City.

The leading edge of the colder air could trigger locally severe thunderstorms in portions of Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, southern Iowa and southeastern Nebraska on Friday.

The drive home or the weekend getaway on Friday could be affected along the Interstate 35, I-80 and I-135 corridors.

"The storms will have the potential to bring damaging wind gusts, hail and torrential downpours to some communities in the Midwest during Friday," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Eric Leister.

The storms will tend to weaken upon moving into Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania during Friday night.

However, the storms will get new life on Saturday near and east of the Appalachians, as the sun begins to warm the air.

Areas from Virginia and Maryland to Delaware, New Jersey, central and eastern Pennsylvania and eastern New York state will be at risk for locally severe storms from Saturday midday, afternoon and early evening.

"Similar to the Central states from Friday, the storms in the mid-Atlantic will bring the potential for hail, damaging wind gusts and torrential downpours on Saturday," Leister said.

Some of the storms could survive the trip into parts of New England before diminishing Saturday evening.

Motorists on the highways and people spending time outdoors should be on the lookout for rapidly changing weather conditions, especially during the afternoon and evening hours. Motorists should reduce their speed to limit the risk of hydroplaning and never attempt to drive through flooded roadways. People outdoors should seek shelter indoors at the first rumble of thunder.

The storms can cause frequent lightning strikes, sporadic power outages, minor property damage, flash flooding and travel disruptions as they move through some communities.

The risk of flash flooding will not be limited to areas hit by drenching thunderstorms in the central U.S. or soaking rain in the mid-Atlantic in recent days.

In the wake of the second front, a day or two of chilly air follows in the Midwest and Northeast.