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Severe Storms Rattle Wichita to Little Rock

July 23, 2013; 8:39 PM

As a sharp cold front cuts through an air mass thick with humidity, showers and thunderstorms will bubble up from Kansas into Arkansas, western Pennsylvania and down into even parts of Florida and Georgia into Tuesday evening.

Some of the cities and towns most at risk include Wichita, Kan., to Springfield, Mo., and Little Rock, Ark.

Not everyone will see a storm, but those that do run the risk of wind gusts to 60 mph, hail as large as baseballs, blinding rain and an isolated tornado.

These storms will dissipate over southern Georgia and northern Florida through early tonight, but gusty winds and torrential downpours cannot be ruled out.

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Wind gusts to 60 mph can uproot trees and bring down power poles. They can also blow around any unsecured objects left outside.

Hail as large as baseballs can cause damage to crops, especially corn. It can also injure livestock and damage vehicles.

If you plan to travel on interstate 70, 44 or 35, to name a few, be on the lookout for quickly changing skies and the potential for blinding rain ahead. If you encounter blinding rain, put your four-way flashers on and pull off to a safe area of the roadway until the storm passes.

Those who will be out and about on Tuesday evening from Wichita to Little Rock will also need to keep a keen eye to the sky. Once thunderstorms develop this afternoon, they will strengthen quickly, and dangerous conditions could follow soon after.

Current technology has advanced enough over recent years to provide ample alerts of the potential for severe weather and the approach of localized severe storms. Be sure to understand the difference between a watch and a warning. A watch means that an area is being monitored for dangerous weather. A warning means that dangerous weather is imminent. When a warning is issued, there may be too little time to travel across town or across a county to escape the storm. The time to have a plan of action and move to the general vicinity of a storm shelter or safe area is when a watch is issued.

Keep in mind that lightning is one of Mother Nature's most dangerous killers. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning, even if the sun is still shining.

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