As thunderstorms erupt and turn severe, areas along a 900-mile swath from the southern Plains to the Ohio Valley will face potentially damaging and life-threatening weather conditions from Friday night to Saturday.
While a few severe storms are anticipated to develop into Friday evening, there will be a much greater risk for the same areas while people sleep late Friday night into Saturday morning.
At this time, only a few tornadoes are anticipated in the most intense thunderstorms from north-central Texas to southern Ohio.
However, it is possible that conditions may become more favorable for more numerous tornadoes to develop. Even a single low-end intensity tornado striking a populated area can cause extensive damage and put lives at risk.
"During late Friday afternoon and evening, the greatest risk for tornadoes will be in parts of northern Texas and Oklahoma," according to AccuWeather Storm Warning Meteorologist Richard Schraeger.
The tornado risk will expand northeastward toward the middle Mississippi and Ohio valleys during the overnight hours Friday.
Regardless of the number of tornadoes, multiple storms will be strong enough to produce high wind gusts, large hail, frequent lightning strikes and torrential downpours.
Winds will be strong enough to topple trees and hail large enough to damage vehicles in some communities.
Sporadic power outages are likely.
Major cities at risk for severe storms, including the risk of an isolated tornado include Dallas; Oklahoma City; Fort Smith, Arkansas; Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Carbondale, Illinois; Louisville, Kentucky; Evansville, Indiana; and Cincinnati.
During the day Saturday, the severe weather threat will extend from central and northeastern Texas to southern Illinois.
"The greatest risk for tornadoes on Saturday will be from northeastern Texas through parts of Arkansas," Schraeger said.
A few heavy, gusty storms could erupt as far to the northeast as the central Appalachians on Saturday.
Additional severe storms and flooding are likely over the south-central United States from Saturday night through Sunday.
In the severe weather setup through this weekend, flooding may pose the greatest risk to lives and property.
The flooding event is anticipated to evolve from flash, urban and small stream flooding this weekend to river flooding by early next week in part of the Central states.
People are urged to closely monitor severe weather bulletins and seek shelter indoors as storms approach or move to higher ground as the flooding situation warrants.
Park your vehicle in a garage, if possible, to reduce the risk of damage. Avoid seeking shelter under trees. Strong winds can break off large limbs, and lightning could strike without notice.
Have flashlights on hand and be sure to have cell phones fully charged.