Chicago Weather

What to Expect and When With Severe Storms Threatening Tornadoes, Hail and More

While some may have been woken up by rumbles of thunder, flashes of lightning and heavy downpours early Thursday morning, a second, even stronger round of storms is set to move in for the afternoon and evening

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There is potential for severe weather across the Chicago area Thursday as storms bring the threat of isolated tornadoes, hail and damaging winds to the region.

A tornado watch has been issued for nearly the entire Chicago area, with the exception of northwest Indiana. The watch is in effect until 8 p.m. (Read more here.)

Whether or not the severe storms will set up remains to be seen, but, according to the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center, much of the Chicago area is currently under a "slight" risk of severe storms, the second of five levels. Other parts of the region remain under the lower, "marginal" risk.

While some may have been woken up by rumbles of thunder, flashes of lightning and heavy downpours early Thursday morning, a second, even stronger round of storms is set to move in Thursday afternoon and evening, forecast models show.

Here's what to expect and when with the upcoming threats.

Thursday Afternoon

Some storm activity west of Illinois may move through parts of the Chicago area if it holds together through the late morning and early afternoon hours. But the bulk of scattered showers and thunderstorms are expected to develop later in the day, according to the NBC 5 Storm Team.

Forecast models show the bigger round of potentially severe storms is expected to develop after 3 p.m., just in time for the afternoon commute.

Winds are expected to pick up during the afternoon hours as well, bringing gusts between 35 and 45 mph.

What happens during the afternoon hours will largely impact the threat of severe storms later in the day.

If sunshine and warmer temps heat up the region, the threat for severe conditions increases during the late afternoon and evening hours.

But if clouds and rain showers keep the atmosphere cool, the severe threat is "greatly reduced," according to the NWS.

"If cloud cover and showers keep temperatures cooler than expected this afternoon, then that would greatly reduce the risk of any severe weather," an alert from the NWS says. "However, if there is some sunshine this afternoon and temperatures are able to heat up, then conditions would likely become favorable for severe thunderstorms late this afternoon and into very early this evening."

If those conditions do form, "all weather elements are at play," the NBC 5 Storm Team says.

Thursday Evening

By 6 p.m., the system is expected to pass through Kankakee and into northwest Indiana.

The main threat for severe conditions is expected to continue through at least 8 p.m. Some scattered showers and storms may remain even longer, but are expected to end before midnight, the NBC 5 Storm Team says.

The main threats with Thursday's storms will be heavy rainfall and localized flooding, gusty, damaging winds of up to 60 miles per hour, lightning and large hail. Additionally, although the threat of a tornado is small, it cannot be ruled out, the NBC 5 Storm Team reports.

Although temperatures Thursday are expected to hit a high of 77 degrees, a cold front passing through Thursday night will push those temperatures back down, the NBC 5 Storm Team says.

Friday and Into the Weekend

As temperatures drop, highs Friday are expected to dip to 60 degrees, much cooler than the mid-70s Thursday.

Breezy winds, however, are expected to remain.

Saturday and Sunday, temperatures are expected to drop even lower, falling into the 40s. Additionally, more rain may fall Friday night and into Saturday.

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