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Damaging winds, flooding to threaten central and eastern U.S. through Sunday

AccuWeather logo AccuWeather 6/17/2017 Renee Duff

Severe weather could threaten outdoor Father's Day events. © George Frey, Getty Images Severe weather could threaten outdoor Father's Day events. Severe thunderstorms will pose significant danger to those celebrating Father’s Day weekend outdoors across the central and eastern United States.

Residents from the middle Mississippi Valley to the eastern Great Lakes, Ohio and Tennessee valleys and central Appalachians will need to keep handy a weather radio or cellphone with severe weather alerts enabled.

“The storms threaten to spoil outdoor barbecues, fishing and boating ventures and trips to the beach around the Great Lakes for Father’s Day weekend,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Kyle Elliott said.

Even worse, the risk of winds strong enough to flip over tents, knock down barbecue grills and toss other loose outdoor items will be high through Sunday. Siding, roof, tree and power line damage is also likely.

Frequent lightning strikes, flooding downpours and hail will pose further dangers. An isolated tornado or two can not be ruled out.

Seeking shelter under a pavilion, tree or covered porch does not provide sufficient protection from lightning and high winds. Seeking shelter indoors or in a vehicle with a metal roof is the best option when the first clap of thunder is heard or stroke of lightning is seen.

Into Saturday night, southwestern Michigan to eastern Kansas will be the corridor at greatest risk for violent weather.

This includes the cities of Chicago and Springfield, Illinois; South Bend, Indiana; and St. Louis, Columbia, and Kansas City, Missouri.

Thunderstorms are likely to develop late in the afternoon around southeastern Iowa, northern Missouri and western Illinois before racing southeastward overnight.

The severe weather to start the weekend will likely be similar in nature to the complex of thunderstorms that blew through Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri on Friday night, which generated 80-mph wind gusts and caused significant damage and widespread power outages.

“On Sunday, storms will shift eastward and threaten a region from western New York and northwestern Pennsylvania through the Ohio and western Tennessee River valleys,” Elliott said.

The forward speed of the storm will slow significantly to end the weekend.

Downpours will crawl toward the central Appalachians and lower Tennessee River Valley Sunday night, when the threat for severe weather will greatly diminish but the threat for flooding will mount.

Winds thousands of feet above the ground will roughly flow parallel to the line of thunderstorms, which will result in hours of torrential rainfall in many areas.

The saturated soil combined with the slowed forward progress and repeating nature of the storms will result in an enhanced risk of flash, urban and small stream flooding.

“Any thunderstorm that repeatedly slams any one location can produce over 3 inches of rain in a short amount of time,” Elliott said.

The thunderstorms will slowly march eastward and may intensify and once again turn severe prior to reaching the I-95 Northeast corridor later Monday.

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