“Over 70 million Americans are now at risk of severe weather, with the greatest risk of significant weather outbreaks covering an area of approximately 45,000 square kilometers, including the Chicago subway,” said CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam.
“All weather models today indicate a significant storm eruption in parts of the Midwest, with less chance of traveling south toward the lower Mississippi and Tennessee Valley regions. Threats include tornadoes (some of which can be significant) that big to very big are big hail and strong gusts of wind. “
Unusually warm and humid air in front of a rapidly exacerbating low pressure system will fuel the storms that will extend from the central part of the country to the Great Lakes and the northeast.
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“Confidence in a potentially severe storm setup is increasing as the ingredients required for it appear to be conveniently coordinated on Saturday,” said the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center on Friday.
CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen said the danger of “long, violent tornadoes … increases significantly from Saturday afternoon to Saturday evening”.
Several severe storms are likely to develop, with the highest likelihood of tornadoes in northern Illinois.
Here is the breakdown of the tornado risk:
Northern Illinois: moderate risk
Missouri, Iowa and Indiana: increased risk
Midwest, Southeast and Ohio Valley: Low Risk
The weather service warned that the storms could cause harmful winds and large to huge hail balls.
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“If the storm worsens and heads toward the upper Midwest, a wind-driven cold rain is expected to spread across the central plains on Saturday,” said the Weather Prediction Center. “Part of the rain could turn into wet snow on Saturday night in the upper Midwest.”
The serious threat is likely to peak on Saturday and continue into the early evening.