'Moderate risk' of storms, tornadoes in Middle America

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Thunderstorms, Tornadoes and Strong Winds From the Plains to the South

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Forecasters cautioned millions of people in Middle America to keep an eye to the sky Wednesday and Thursday amid threats of hail, high winds and strong tornadoes.

The Storm Prediction Center, in a midday update to its forecast Wednesday, upgraded to its second-highest advisory level - a moderate risk - while stressing that a significant tornado or two could form in a narrow stretch from northern Oklahoma to central Missouri.

Severe thunderstorms packing 70 mph winds and large hail made their way across central Missouri on Wednesday afternoon, including several capable of producing tornadoes.

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Illinois Tornado (April 2015)
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'Moderate risk' of storms, tornadoes in Middle America

Crews search through the town for unaccounted people the morning after a tornado swept through the town on April 10, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, 11 people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

This Friday, April 10, 2015 aerial image made from video provided by ABC 7 Chicago (WLS-TV) over Fairdale, Ill., shows damage after a tornado blew through the area Thursday evening. The National Weather Service says at least two tornadoes churned through six north-central Illinois counties.

(AP Photo/Courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago (WLS-TV)

Michael West surveys the damage of his mother's home on IL-64 after a tornado swept through the night before, on April 10, 2015 in Rochelle, Illinois.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Houses and property in ruin the morning after a tornado swept through the town the previous day on April 10, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

This Friday, April 10, 2015 aerial image made from video provided by ABC 7 Chicago (WLS-TV) over Fairdale, Ill., shows damage after a tornado blew through the area Thursday evening. The National Weather Service says at least two tornadoes churned through six north-central Illinois counties.

(AP Photo/Courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago (WLS-TV)

Crews search through the town for unaccounted people the morning after a tornado swept through the town on April 10, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

A semi was knocked on its side while parked behind the restaurant Grubstakers on IL-64 after a tornado came through the previous night, on April 10, 2015 in Rochelle, Illinois.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Wreckage on IL-64 after a tornado came through the previous night, on April 10, 2015 in Rochelle, Illinois.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Crews search through the town for unaccounted people the morning after a tornado swept through the town on April 10, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Metal is wrapped around a tree trunk on IL-64 after a tornado came through the previous night, on April 10, 2015 in Rochelle, Illinois.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: A street sign and stop sign lay in wreckage at IL-72 and West Street after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Crews work to clean debris on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
New image of destruction from Fairdale, IL. Photo courtesy: Shane Nicholson, Managing Editor, The Rock River Times http://t.co/J4jg9xeqOP
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Crews work to clean debris on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 10: Crews work on West Street in the early morning hours after a tornado went through the town April 10, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Books lay on the ground on IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Crews search wreckage on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Crews search wreckage on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: A turtle plush on debris on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Crews work to clean debris on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Crews search wreckage on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: People speak to police on West Street as crews work to clean debris after a tornado came through earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Stefanie and Matthew Hurley look at the wreckage on the IL-72 with their family after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Crews work to clean debris on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: An American flag is caught in branches as crews work to clean debris after a tornado came through earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: An American flag is caught in branches as crews work to clean debris after a tornado came through earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Crews work to clean debris on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
A house is destroyed after a tornado touched down in Fairdale, Ill., on Thursday, April 9, 2015. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Firefighters search for victims as they go door-to-door off Highway 72 after a tornado touched down in Fairdale, Ill., on Thursday, April 9, 2015. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Firefighters search for victims as they go door-to-door off Highway 72 after a tornado touched down in Fairdale, Ill., on Thursday, April 9, 2015. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Officials and residents walk through a street after a tornado touched down in Fairdale, Ill., on Thursday, April 9, 2015. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Trees are mangled on Highway 72 after a tornado touched down in Fairdale, Ill., on Thursday, April 9, 2015. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
1 dead, heavy damage reported in Fairdale, Illinois http://t.co/YbKG3vRWoG http://t.co/CTmUNMRaQW
What's left of a home in fairdale, il #tornado http://t.co/jUsy7u3jpK
BREAKING: At least 1 dead, many reported missing in Fairdale, just south of Rockford: http://t.co/o7mELPDs69 http://t.co/5Dplp0qj0o
Having difficulty getting access due to damage and debris. http://t.co/amwLnvLOoW
Latest on storm system, including tornadoes, that has caused severe damage in Illinois http://t.co/9J75mVp06F http://t.co/SLCdOSxYZK
UPDATE: 1 dead, 7 injured after tornado rips through northern Illinois town http://t.co/UW5PVLzudL http://t.co/qahDUfe1Z9
VIDEO: "That's going through subdivisions" -- Large tornado tears through Rochelle, IL - [Stephanie Sego Curtis] http://t.co/KBrxqPqwXP
RT @MikeCollierWX: Thanks to Cole Hicks for this picture of the Rochelle, Illinois tornado. http://t.co/3wloX4Mjkd
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 09: Passengers check a departure display at O'Hare International Airport on April 7, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Severe weather and a tornado watch in the Chicago area has prompted the cancellation of over 600 flights at O'Hare International Airport. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 09: Cancelled flights are shown on the departure display at O'Hare International Airport on April 7, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Severe weather and a tornado watch in the Chicago are has prompted the cancellation of over 600 flights at O'Hare International Airport. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
@weatherchannel @JimCantore Mesocyclone with wall cloud/ funnel cloud Morehead KS http://t.co/VcLagJgafx
What!!!!!!
What the hail!!!????
🎶God told Noah to build him and arky, arky...🎶
St Louis storm! #hail
Not sure but I think the apocalypse is fast-approaching #Cincinnati. Scary dark & heavy rain! http://t.co/8rR3ZiHka5
Cincinnati is looking way weird right now http://t.co/QokrZjrqWE
1993 was the last time the streets flooded this bad. #weregonnaneedabiggerboat http://t.co/sKkQXX2ol2
@chesterlampkin In #ellisville it looks like we just got a good snow. http://t.co/fprm3ziCRU
April showers... Large hail...
I bet that hail storm left some nice damage to the roof of my house. http://t.co/e35WLb8TQE
Hail falling in slo-mo! http://t.co/MSvY0WAGTA
Heres a time lapse of the storm in Richmond moving through Garrard. Shows the rotation. @IanOliverWX @Kentuckyweather http://t.co/O73A2FI5EE
National Weather Service assessing damage in Richmond: RICHMOND, Ky. (WTVQ) - The National Weather Service (NWS)… http://t.co/p6OmC01GLO
National Weather Service assessing damage in Richmond http://t.co/004dAUNKYK http://t.co/53to6GKMZC
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Weather spotters reported a funnel cloud near Potosi in eastern Missouri at 3:35 p.m., while an hour earlier the Bates County emergency manager reported an EF0 tornado in southwest Missouri that destroyed a 60-foot machine shop.

Forecasters said more severe weather could form as far away as the plains of West Texas, urging people to have a plan in place should a tornado or other severe weather approach.

"Where to hide, emergency kits with medicines, snacks, water. Even something like sturdy shoes, gloves, long-sleeve shirts. If they get hit by a tornado they'll find they'll need those things pretty quickly," said meteorologist Erin Maxwell with the National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma.

"Know what you're doing and just don't panic," Maxwell added.

Indiana State Police said high winds toppled a tractor-trailer on Interstate 69 near Evansville, while utilities reported a number of power outages after wind gusts reached 70 mph.

Fewer than 1 million people were in Wednesday's "moderate risk" area between Wichita, Kansas, and Jefferson City, Missouri, but 34 million were under at least a slight risk of seeing damaging winds, large hail and possibly a tornado.

Emergency managers in Kansas and Illinois huddled separately to address the approaching storms. Kansas officials warned that hail could be the size of baseballs, while Illinois officials told residents they should be prepared to seek shelter if bad weather arrives.

Heat, humidity and the approach of a cold front and a jet stream could cause severe weather on Thursday, too. Forecasters said 57 million people were at an "enhanced risk" of seeing storms nearby, including residents in Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis, as well as those in Memphis, Tennessee, and Little Rock, Arkansas.

Areas that don't see strong storms Thursday could see heavy rain instead.

The Storm Prediction Center said Wednesday's storms in the southern Plains could be significant - defined as having 2-inch hail, 75 mph winds and tornado damage rated at EF2 or higher.

Emergency officials said a tornado touched down briefly Tuesday night in southeastern Kansas. Parts of Missouri and Indiana also had severe weather Tuesday.


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