By Faith Eherts, AccuWeather meteorologist
May 27,2017, 3:27:20PM,EDT
An outbreak of severe weather will continue to threaten lives and property across the central United States into Saturday night.Numerous thunderstorms capable of producing widespread damaging winds, destructive hail, flooding downpours and tornadoes will continue to bear down on the central U.S. from eastern Kansas to Arkansas and the lower Ohio River Valley.
Residents in these areas should stay up to date on local watches and warnings and seek shelter in a sturdy building should threatening weather approach.
The thunderstorms quickly ignited early on Saturday afternoon and have had a history of producing damaging winds and hail. Bates County Sheriff reported softball-sized hail pounding an area southeast of Kansas City, Missouri.
There is the potential that a complex of storms develops into a derecho.
"A far-reaching swath of wind damage may lead to widespread downed trees and power outages," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said. "Gusts could reach minimal hurricane-force strength."
"Clusters of violent thunderstorms are expected to race from eastern Kansas and Missouri into Tennessee and Arkansas into Saturday night," she said. "Western Arkansas and northeastern Texas will also face the severe weather that first erupts in eastern Oklahoma."
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Cities bracing for the severe weather outbreak include Springfield and St. Louis, Missouri; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma; Jonesboro and Little Rock, Arkansas; Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee; and Dallas.
More lives and property will be threatened as the strongest thunderstorms will also be capable of producing very large hail, including baseball sized or larger. The atmosphere is prime for some tornadoes to become large and extremely destructive.
"The risk for such severe impacts will be greatest into Saturday evening from Missouri, especially western areas, to Oklahoma and Arkansas," Pydynowski said.
Another complex of heavy thunderstorms will fire up into Saturday evening from eastern Kentucky and Tennessee to Virginia and North Carolina. Locally damaging winds, hail and flooding downpours will be the main threats along this corridor.
Some of these same areas will be threatened by severe weather once again on Saturday night.
Motorists should avoid driving through storms or trying to traverse flooded roadways.
Outdoor furniture and other possible projectiles should be secured or moved indoors ahead of any storms to limit damage.
"Residents in the central U.S. will want to make sure vehicles are under cover and that animals have proper shelter," Pydynowski said. "The very large hail expected can cause bodily harm or even fatal injuries."
Pavilions do not provide adequate shelter from lightning or the above threats, making it imperative that those caught outdoors make every effort to seek more reliable shelter in any dangerous storms.
“During the overnight hours, the threat for severe thunderstorms will race eastward across the Mississippi River and southward,” said Brown.
While the tornado threat is expected to decrease for the overnight hours, the strongest storms will still be capable of producing “high winds, large hail and flooding rain into early Sunday morning,” said Clark.
Campers should avoid setting up right along small streams, due to the enhanced risk of flash flooding in this situation.
The severe weather threat will diminish by daybreak Sunday with downpours lingering along the I-20 corrior in the South to start the day.
A new round of severe weather may then erupt in the afternoon from Ohio to Texas.