Damaging storms to strike Michigan to Iowa on Thursday

Intense thunderstorms will threaten the midwestern United States with hail, damaging winds and even isolated tornadoes by the end of the week.

The contrast of 90-degree Fahrenheit heat and high humidity ahead of a system and cooler, drier air in its wake will aid in storm development and intensity late Thursday and Thursday night.

“With it being early July, plenty of moisture and instability will be present over the Midwest and a weak cold front will progress southeastward during the afternoon, causing thunderstorms to initialize,” AccuWeather Lead Storm Warning Meteorologist John Lavin said.

Communities from Marquette and Traverse City, Michigan, to Minneapolis, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Madison, Wisconsin, will face an enhanced risk of power outages, flash flooding and damage from the storms.

The storms could retain their intensity as far south as Chicago on Thursday night.

“The main threats will be damaging winds, large hail and flash flooding,” Lavin said. “An isolated tornado or two cannot be ruled out either.”

The same areas that were devastated by tornadoes at the end of June will be at risk for violent weather once again.

“Severe thunderstorms look likely to develop Thursday afternoon across far eastern Minnesota into much of central Wisconsin and spread southeastward into portions of southern Wisconsin, the western Lower Peninsula of Michigan and far northern Illinois by Thursday evening into Thursday night,” Lavin said.

Wind gusts could reach 70 mph in the worst storms. Loose outdoor items or debris that remains from the recent storms could easily be tossed around and become dangerous projectiles.

Operators of small craft and bathers along lakes Huron, Michigan and Superior should be on the lookout for rapidly growing clouds and a darkening sky. As soon as you hear thunder or see lightning, seek shelter in a safer location.

Parts of interstates 35, 43, 75, 80, 90 and 94 will be in the line of fire of the storms. Anyone driving along these routes will face blinding downpours and a greater risk of hydroplaning and car pileups when traveling at highway speeds.

Heading into Friday, the threat for severe weather will shift eastward into part of the Northeast and Ohio Valley.

This will put the cities of Buffalo, New York, Erie, Pennsylvania, Cleveland and Indianapolis at risk of a rejuvenated line of storms with high winds, hail and downpours during the afternoon.

The risk of a brief, isolated tornado will still be present.