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Severe Storms Could Produce Devastating Tornadoes and Hail in Midwest United States

A powerful storm system capable of unleashing hail, wind, and tornadoes is expected to pass through parts of the Mississippi Valley and the Midwest on Tuesday after triggering tornado warnings in the Plains overnight.

Tornado watches were in effect until early Tuesday in parts of Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. Some storms may still be underway in the Plains as the sun rises and are likely to remain strong as they rumble across parts of the Midwest during the afternoon.

Any of Tuesday’s storms could bring hail, strong winds, or tornadoes, but the most significant threat for hail and tornadoes extends from southern Iowa to northern Missouri and west-central Illinois, according to the Prediction Center of Storms. An increased, or level 3 of 5, risk of severe thunderstorms covers this area, which includes Des Moines, Iowa, and Columbia, Missouri.

A slight risk, or level 2 of 5, for severe storms covers this area, which extends from southeastern Oklahoma and Arkansas to southwestern Wisconsin and the rest of Illinois. And a much broader, lower risk, Level 1 of 5, covers an area from northeast Texas to southern Wisconsin, as well as a narrow corridor reaching into Virginia and North Carolina.

Pockets of heavy rain may also trigger flash flooding in some parts of the northern Plains and Mississippi Valley. Precipitation totals could reach 76 millimeters and fall at rates of 25 to 50 millimeters per hour in some places.

Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Milwaukee have already received excess rain this month, with more than a dozen river gauges already at minor flood stage even before this round of rain. More rain could overflow rivers and streams and cause flash flooding.

Storms are expected to move further east on Wednesday, bringing scattered storms and similar severe weather threats to the lower-central Ohio Valley and upper South into the evening.

Strong winds accompanying the storms are contributing to an elevated risk of widespread fire across the Southwest through Wednesday morning.

Red flag warnings extend from New Mexico and west Texas to parts of Colorado and Nebraska and are also in effect in northeastern Montana.

The red flag warnings mean that strong winds, combined with low humidity and fragile brush, could fuel the rapid spread of fires that may ignite in the warning area, the National Weather Service said. People should be careful to avoid activities that could cause fires.

Simple fire prevention measures include properly disposing of cigarettes, keeping cars out of dry grass, avoiding creating flames or sparks, and obeying burning bans, the weather service in Albuquerque, New Mexico, advised.

— CNN’s Mary Gilbert contributed to this report.

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