Damaging winds, flash flooding and even isolated tornadoes will sweep across the Mississippi River Valley into Wednesday night.
The thunderstorms will target metro areas during busy commute times, including St. Louis; Little Rock, Arkansas; Memphis, Tennessee; and Shreveport, Louisiana.
“The threat will include a few tornadoes,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Frank Strait said.
The highest risk of damaging thunderstorms, including those capable of producing tornadoes, will focus on Arkansas, northern Louisiana and northeastern Texas. Locally severe weather can occur up to Missouri and Illinois.
“The most far-reaching impacts will be large hail, damaging winds and flooding downpours,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Ryan Adamson said.
Wind gusts to 70 mph can easily snap trees and topple power poles. Power outages are likely.
If possible, keep cars parked under a covered port or in a garage to prevent costly hail damage.
“Residents will need to keep an eye to the sky and heed any warnings issued,” Adamson said.
The rain could come down fast enough to overwhelm storm drains, small creeks and streams, and flood neighboring roads and lands. Secondary roads could be covered with water and impassable.
Those who are traveling major interstates, such as I-20, I-30, I-40, I-44, I-55 and I-70, will face blinding downpours and an enhanced risk of hydroplaning at highway speeds.
“While severe weather is less likely farther north, including in Chicago, thunderstorms could still contain localized winds up to 60 mph and any storm can still bring local flash flooding,” Adamson said.
The line of heavy thunderstorms will shift eastward into the evening hours, threatening communities from Paducah, Kentucky, to Memphis, Tennessee; Jackson, Mississippi; and Monroe and Alexandria, Louisiana.
The thunderstorms will weaken below severe limits prior to reaching Nashville and Birmingham, Alabama, on Thursday morning.
Communities rocked by the thunderstorms at midweek will need to continue to monitor forecasts heading into the weekend, when a far more significant severe weather outbreak looms.