Inside the Storm Prediction Center

NORMAN, Okla. -- The heart of America is bracing for what could be more rough weather this week -- conditions are ripe for some destructive storms. CBS News went to Norman, Oklahoma to find out how experts track them.

The storms already started in parts of Kansas already on Sunday. Bill Bunting, the operations chief at the Storm Prediction Center, said that is only the beginning.

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A meteorologist at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma points out a storm system CBS News

"All hazards are possible," he said. "Tornadoes, damaging winds, and large hail."

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According to Bunting, the Midwest, South and Central Plains should brace for a week of potentially dangerous weather. The forecast comes from the center's "war room," where meteorologists track the systems and make predictions.

Bunting explained what he has learned over the years about the science of predicting weather and making forecasts.

"I think key has been the understanding of how storms develop, and what environments are most favorable for say, tornadic thunderstorms, versus those that don't produce tornadoes."

It starts with a strong jet stream from the Northwest colliding with a surge of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, but scientists have discovered another clue: shifts in winds below the jet stream ahead of a storm can help predict severe weather.

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CBS News

"When those winds are particularly strong, and exhibit a certain change in speed and direction and height, those are days that we can hone in on and say those storms in that particular area will have a higher risk of producing a tornado," Bunting explained.

With a high risk on Tuesday, online briefings with emergency officials in the region are well underway.

The threat of severe weather for the nation's mid-section goes through the week and into the weekend.

Officials are using blunt language in their warnings now. Instead of a simple "take shelter," people may hear "mobile homes will be destroyed" and "flying debris will be deadly."