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Ferocious storms to erupt across the central United States

By Jessica Storm, AccuWeather, Accuweather.com

As August gets underway across the United States, millions of people will be facing the risk of severe thunderstorms this weekend in the Plains and Midwest.

This severe weather potential comes after thunderstorms tore through parts of the region on Friday and Friday night, bringing gusty winds to South Dakota, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Indiana. This includes gusts past 70 mph near Reliance and Stephan, S.D., as well as reports of trees and tree limbs down near Fitchburg, Wis., and Leesburg, Ind.

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The weekend's threat is expected to be even more intense, aiming for a wide area of the region, including major cities like Minneapolis and Chicago.

There can be three to four rounds of scattered showers and thunderstorms that move across the northern Plains, Midwest, Great Lakes and Ohio Valley through Tuesday, according to AccuWeather senior meteorologist Tyler Roys. Some of these thunderstorms could be strong to severe with damaging winds and flooding downpours.

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"Rainfall amounts will vary widely across the region with the highest amounts likely across eastern Minnesota, eastern Iowa, Wisconsin and northern Illinois," said Roys.

The risk for flooding is present, with over 40 of the Plains in a severe drought, and the hardest-hit areas are the Northern states, including the Dakotas and Minnesota. This rain could be beneficial in certain areas. Minneapolis in particular has only reported about 26 of its average rainfall since July 1.

Nevertheless, severe storms mean danger for residents of the central United States.

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"The strongest of these storms will glide on an eastward path from eastern South Dakota into Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin on Saturday into Saturday night with the parameters for development being quite high in these locations," said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Matt Rinde.

Storms are anticipated to bring gusty winds, hail and drenching rainfall, with an AccuWeather Local StormMax&trade of 80 mph. Severe weather is anticipated to impact cities such as Omaha, Neb.; Sioux Falls, S.D.; Des Moines, Iowa; Wichita, Kan.; and Minneapolis on Saturday.

Forecasters are keeping a close eye on heavy downpours across the region despite drought relief in the north. Places like Kansas City and Missouri, have already received half of their normal rainfall amounts so far in August due to heavy rain last Thursday. States such as Kansas and Missouri are much less drought stricken than their northern neighbors.

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"The atmospheric profile shows a lot of moisture to work with as these storms develop," said Rinde.

There can be pockets of flash flooding, especially in low-lying and poor drainage areas. Drivers along the Interstate-29 corridor will need to be aware of ponding on roadways, hydroplaning and drastic changes in visibility. Experts urge motorists to never attempt to drive across a flooded roadway. The water may be much deeper than it appears, and it only takes a small amount of water to sweep a vehicle away.

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High water could also block escape routes for those in rural and suburban areas, so it is even more vital to plan ahead of the severe weather. Residents should ensure flashlights are in working order and generators ready.

"There is also an outside chance of a tornado," added Rinde.

The tornadoes have the possibility of striking at night as well, which is especially dangerous while residents are sleeping. AccuWeather meteorologists are urging residents to make sure they have a way to receive severe weather warnings before heading to bed.

Scattered severe storms are also expected to develop to the south through the rest of the Plains, reaching into northern Texas.

"The storms expected to develop over the weekend will be associated with a weak area of low pressure high up in the atmosphere and a cold front starting in the Plains and then shifting into the Great Lakes," Rinde said.

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To finish off the weekend, storms are forecast to continue trucking along on Sunday afternoon and evening.

"As the system transitions eastward it will cause heavier storms to develop in the eastern Great Lakes from southern Wisconsin into northern Illinois and extending into Missouri and eastern Kansas," said Rinde.

Storms will erupt similarly over several locations on Sunday, including Green Bay, Wis.; St. Louis; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Chicago. The risks will generally be the same, including hail, high wind gusts, flooding downpours and isolated tornadoes, with an AccuWeather Local StormMax&trade of 70 mph. Residents are urged to stay weather-aware and on guard for changing conditions.

Looking ahead, forecasters are watching the possibility of cooler, calmer weather for the region.

"We are watching for the potential for a couple of cool shots to come into the northern Plains and the Midwest during the second half of the week," said Roys. The first cool shot will come around Wednesday or Thursday and will only last a couple of days, bringing temperatures near or slightly below average.

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