Springlike warmth, severe weather to develop in southern U.S. by week's end

A warm and stormy end to the week will threaten damaging winds, flooding rain and even a few tornadoes as storms tear through the Mississippi Valley.

Warm air will surge out of the Gulf of Mexico and into the region through the end of the week. After bottoming out at 25 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday morning, temperatures in Little Rock will soar into the 70s F on Thursday and Friday.

This warmth will combine with an incoming storm system to create a favorable setup for severe weather late on Friday, according to AccuWeather Storm Warning Meteorologist Brian Adams.

The impacted region will include "areas from the eastern Plains across the lower Mississippi Valley and into portions of the Ohio River Valley," he said.

The strongest storms are expected to fire toward the end of rush hour, minimizing the potential for after-school activities and commutes to be interrupted by severe weather. Regardless, anyone planning to be outside on Friday afternoon should keep an eye on the sky and head indoors at the first sign of threatening weather.

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"Storms look to first develop later Friday afternoon, with the greatest storm coverage expected overnight," Adams warned.

Anyone traveling along interstates 30, 20, 49, 40, 44, 55 and 69 at night should pull off the highway and seek shelter, or at least slow down significantly with hazard lights on, in the event a storm crosses the highway. It will be important to make sure cell phone weather alerts are enabled and to keep an eye on the sky.

In addition to dangerously low visibility in periods of heavy rain, these storms will present the hazard of flash flooding on roadways. Motorists should take care not to try to drive through any flooded areas.

"Damaging winds will be the primary concerns for much of the event," Adams said.

Outdoor holiday decorations, furniture and other objects should be moved inside or secured ahead of any storms. Property damage due to projectiles and toppling trees and power lines will be a hazard.

A few tornadoes cannot be ruled out with this event. Overnight tornadoes pose a higher threat than those that spin up during the day, and anyone in the area of concern should keep a weather radio or cell phone nearby with the volume up and severe weather alerts enabled.

Download the free AccuWeather app for the latest severe weather warnings for your area.

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