AccuWeather reports there is a risk of severe thunderstorms from Texas to Wisconsin tonight with the greatest risk for tornadoes from Wichita Falls, Texas, to Joplin, Mo.
The risk of violent thunderstorms, some with tornadoes, will continue well into the nighttime hours and could extend past midnight.
The greatest potential for a tornado extends from west-central Texas through central Oklahoma to southeastern Kansas and southwestern Missouri," said Guy Pearson, severe weather expert.
"In the absence of tornadoes in this area, there is an elevated risk of large hail and damaging wind gusts with any of these storms," Pearson added.
The first storms capable of producing tornadoes, large hail and damaging wind gusts are likely to fire roughly on a line from near Route 284 in Texas to the vicinity of I-44 in Oklahoma to southeast of I-35 in Kansas.
Cities potentially in the path of the dangerous storms Wednesday night include Wichita Falls, Texas, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla., Chanute and Pittsburg, Kan., and Joplin, Mo.
This zone is likely to mark the dividing line between dry, chilly air to the west and warm, humid air to the east. Energy high in the atmosphere will give thunderstorms that form in this zone the means for explosive development.
Individual storms will slice swiftly northeastward, while the overall zone of thunderstorms will drift slowly eastward with time. The risk of thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes would reach into southwestern Missouri to part of north-central Texas.
Farther northeast is a secondary area of locally severe thunderstorms and an elevated risk for flooding downpours.
Severe Thunderstorm Risk Kansas City to Chicago
The secondary risk of severe thunderstorms extends from northeastern Kansas and northern Missouri to northeastern Illinois.
"Thunderstorms in this zone can be repeat offenders, meaning that more than one strong or severe thunderstorm can occur with damaging wind gusts, hail and frequent lightning strikes through Wednesday night," Pearson said.
While not an elevated threat as farther southwest, a couple of the strongest thunderstorms can produce a brief tornado in this area Wednesday night.
Cities that can be hit by one or more severe thunderstorms Wednesday night include Topeka, Kan., Kansas City, Mo., Des Moines, Iowa, and Chicago.
"The repeating nature of the thunderstorms and the downpours without thunder raises the risk of isolated flash, urban and small stream flooding from northeastern Kansas to southern Wisconsin Wednesday night," Pearson said.
The risk of flooding will extend beyond Wednesday night over portions of the Midwest. The potential for flooding will focus around the Great Lakes region Thursday and Thursday night.
Runoff on wet and saturated ground will also lead to significant rises on some of the rivers.
There could be some flooding problems along unprotected areas of the rivers into the weekend and beyond. Generally, the larger the river the longer it takes flooding to cycle through.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was written by Alex Sosnowski, expert senior meteorologist for AccuWeather.com.