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The storms will have the potential to cause significant flooding in cities such as Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Buffalo.
Daily episodes of severe weather have been erupting across parts of the United States every day so far this month -- and the trend is expected to continue in the coming days. The atmosphere will keep its foot on the throttle for potentially dangerous, damaging and disruptive storms in portions of the eastern and central U.S. into this weekend.
Millions of Americans will need to stay alert to the forecast as the pockets of severe weather will shift around from day to day.
Storms during the middle of July often can be briefly heavy on an isolated basis during the afternoon and early evening hours, especially in the Southeast states. However, a dome of heat will add intensity and coverage of storms on the periphery in the coming days.
During Thursday afternoon and evening, storms from central Ohio, northeastern Kentucky and northwestern West Virginia to northwestern Pennsylvania and western and central New York state will not only carry the potential for high wind gusts and flash flooding but also the risk of a few isolated tornadoes.
The most likely time for tornadoes with the strongest storms will be from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. EDT Thursday.
This severe weather will be part of a larger swath of heavy, gusty thunderstorms that are forecast to extend from northern Arkansas and southern Missouri to southeastern Ontario and southern Quebec.
Any of the storms in this swath can bring brief, blinding downpours that could overwhelm neighborhood storm drains and small streams. The torrential downpours can also contribute to gusty winds that can break tree limbs and knock over a few poorly rooted or top-heavy trees.
A shelf cloud was captured over the National Weather Service office in Wichita, Kansas, on Thursday morning, July 16, 2020, as a potent storm rolled into the region. (Twitter / Kevin Darmofal, NWS employee)
Motorists and airline passengers should be prepared for delays related to the storms in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Buffalo, New York.