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Severe thunderstorms, flooding rainfall to target millions across central, eastern US

AccuWeather logo AccuWeather 10/24/2021 Brandon Buckingham

A series of storms charging across the country will set the stage for rounds of explosive thunderstorm development and heavy rainfall through midweek across the central and eastern United States.

Round one of thunderstorm activity will roar to life as warm and humid air clashes with an advancing cold front across the central U.S. on Sunday, threatening places like Kansas City, St. Louis, Joplin, Missouri and Little Rock, Arkansas.

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As thunderstorm activity fires up along the cold front Sunday afternoon, individual thunderstorm cells are expected to congeal into a powerful line of thunderstorms by sunset. This will increase the chances and coverage of damaging wind gusts into Sunday evening.

Interstate 44 across much of Missouri will likely prove to be a troublesome travel zone late Sunday afternoon into the evening hours as powerful thunderstorms roll through the area. High-profile vehicles can be especially susceptible to strong wind gusts capable of blowing big rigs over.

While widespread damaging wind gusts may be the primary threat, embedded areas of rotation may form within any thunderstorm, which could produce tornadoes.

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Severe thunderstorms will not be the only hazardous weather to contend with through the day on Sunday, as areas farther north will be dealt a deluge of steady rain.

Cities along Interstate 80 from Des Moines, Iowa to Cleveland, Ohio, will likely experience a steady rain developing during the day on Sunday, which will continue through the overnight hours. A widespread swath of at least 1-3 inches of rain is expected along this corridor, and an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 8 inches of rain is possible.

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The parent storm responsible for Sunday's severe thunderstorm and heavy rain threat will shift eastward by Monday, refocusing the threat for thunderstorms and flooding rainfall farther east.

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While the atmospheric setup for severe weather on Monday is not quite as impressive as Sunday's setup, all of the ingredients needed for damaging thunderstorms will still be in play. Spanning across the Ohio and Tennessee River valleys, the southern Appalachians, and into the piedmont of the Carolinas, the threat for damaging wind gusts, hail and an isolated tornado are all possible.

Larger metropolitan areas that lie within this risk zone include Knoxville, Tennessee, Charleston, West Virginia, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Roanoke, Virginia.

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A steady, soaking rain will continue to fall north of where the severe thunderstorm threat resides. From the Great Lakes into New England, a grey, chilly, wet and nasty Monday is in store.

The severe thunderstorm threat will diminish across the Eastern states by Tuesday as the storm slides off the East coast. Heavy rain may continue to be a concern in New York City and Boston as the storm is expected to intensify and gain characteristics of a nor'easter off the coast.

Focusing on the risk for severe thunderstorms, attention will shift back to the Plains on Tuesday. The bomb cyclone responsible for bringing heavy rain and snow to the West will begin to march out of the Rockies and into the Plains, setting the stage for another round of severe weather.

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An atmospheric wildcard may enter the picture across the southern Plains and Gulf Coast states by midweek, as remaining upper-level energy from Hurricane Rick is expected to lift north of the Mexican border. The potential interaction between the storm exiting the West and what remains of Rick could bring about yet another round of severe weather on Wednesday across the South.

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