DETROIT (CBS Detroit) - It may mostly miss metro Detroit, but a gigantic line of violent thunderstorms could affect one in five Americans on Wednesday as it rumbles from Iowa through Michigan to Maryland packing hail, lightning and tree-toppling winds.
The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for Wayne, Hillsdale, Lenawee, Jackson, Monroe and Washtenaw counties, in effect until 2 a.m. In addition, a flash flood watch goes into effect at 8 p.m. and runs through Thursday morning, for the entire southeast Michigan area.
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National forecasters say this storm could be accompanied by "derecho" conditions, which are powerful straight-line winds with gusts as strong as 100 mph.
WWJ spoke with Russell Schneider at The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
"The threat of widespread damaging winds is very real, including large hail and some isolated tornadoes," said Schneider. "Whether or not it will reach derecho proportions, we're still monitoring that. That's a very rare event."
CBS 62 Chief Meteorologist Jim Madaus said Southeast Michigan will see 1-3 inches of rain overnight, with most of the rainfall and the greatest risk for storms happening in the overnight hours — from 11 p.m. through 1 a.m.
He said areas south of I-94 — in Berrien, Cass and St Joseph counties — will likely see the worst of it.
"Metro Detroit is in the slight risk area for severe weather, with a moderate risk to the south and to the west of us — but they (the storms) are close enough to us for us to keep our eyes open."
Overnight, the National Weather Service says rapid flooding of roads and highways will be possible, especially in the more urbanized areas. Flooding of low-lying areas and poor drainage areas along with rapid rises in streams and rivers are also possible. (More here).
Madaus said there may be a lingering shower Thursday morning, but the skies are expected to clear up in time for some sunshine Thursday afternoon and Friday.
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