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April 25, 2014

Severe storms loom across central U.S. this weekend

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Forecasters are predicting a significant chance of strong tornadoes this weekend across a large part of the nation’s mid-section, an outbreak that could stretch from the Great Plains to the Midwest and South.

It’s been a quiet year for tornadoes so far, but that doesn’t mean the placid weather won’t take an abrupt turn, forecasters said Thursday.

“Our run of relatively quiet weather may be about to come to an end,” said Bill Bunting, operations chief for the Storm Prediction Center in Norman.

Bunting said the coming system will start Saturday in the Plains — Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and a sliver of South Dakota — and move eastward into Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana on Sunday. The system is expected to stretch into parts of Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama later Sunday.

Strong winds in the upper and middle atmosphere will meet most air moving north from the Gulf of Mexico, creating conditions conducive for tornado development, Bunting said.

Bunting said that people in the affected areas should be aware that dangerous weather is possible. But when it comes to exactly where and how dangerous, he said it’s too early to say.

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