Officials Warn Residents to Be on Alert Ahead of Severe Weather

Officials are warning residents of "widespread severe weather" predicted for most of Illinois this week as forecasters say storms capable of producing high winds and possibly even tornadoes could hit Wednesday.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday issued an alert encouraging residents to stay aware of local forecasts and "be prepared to act quickly if storm warnings are issued." 

“Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes can happen any time of the year,” IEMA Director James K. Joseph said in a statement. “We’re keeping an eye on the storm system predicted for Wednesday, and encourage everyone to stay aware and be prepared to seek shelter if a storm warning is issued.”

A Wind Advisory was issued for all of northern Illinois for Wednesday. The advisory takes effect at 6 p.m. Wednesday and remains in effect until 6 p.m. Thursday.

Forecasters warned that tropical storm wind gusts are possible. 

Rain and thunderstorms are forecast for Wednesday afternoon and evening with the potential for some storms to become severe, possibly bringing wind gusts in excess of 50 mph. 

The "very strong winds" could cause minor damage and be powerful enough to "toss lightweight objects and cause difficult travel," according to the National Weather Service.

Forecasters on Monday warned 63 million people in the central U.S. to have an eye out for bad weather this week as colliding air masses threaten to generate high winds and possibly tornadoes.

The threat Wednesday stretches from San Antonio to Chicago to Cincinnati.

Missouri, southern Illinois and northern Arkansas face the greatest severe weather threat.

The Storm Prediction Center said the storms' severity would be dictated by how much warm, humid air can funnel into the area before a cold front approaches from the west. It was too early to pinpoint where the strongest storms might hit.

November storms aren't unusual, but the nation most often sees its worst storms in the spring. This year, there have been 10 deaths from tornadoes, but none since May.

Wind gusts of up to 50 mph are also expected Thursday ahead of a big temperature cool down. Highs will sit in the low-50s Thursday before falling into the mid-40s by Friday. 

There is a chance the area could see a few flurries Friday as well.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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