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Locally blinding, heavy snow will fall over the passes of the Rockies. Snow broke out over portions of Kansas and as far south as central Oklahoma Wednesday morning. Winds were increasing over western and central Kansas with the snow.
The area of snow will expand Wednesday night reaching from Denver, Colo. to Grand Island, Neb. and Kansas City, Mo.
Snow will continue to expand to the north and east during Thursday reaching Iowa, a large part of South Dakota, part of North Dakota, southern Minnesota, northern Illinois and central and southern Wisconsin.
The strongest winds will be on the front side of the storm and its snow, creating low visibility and extensive drifting. Several hours of blizzard conditions are possible as far north as Omaha
Farther southeast a mixture of rain, ice and snow is forecast Thursday from Arkansas through southeastern Missouri to southern Illinois. Significant icing could potentially take down tree limbs and lead to scattered power outages.
The primary threats from this first round of severe thunderstorms will come in the form of large hail and damaging gusts of wind, which could bring down trees and power poles. Hail could reach the size of quarters or even tennis balls across this region, which is big enough to cause damage to vehicles, windshields and windows. Be sure to heed any watches or warnings that may be issued. Remember: If a warning is issued, this means a dangerous thunderstorm is imminent, and you should take shelter immediately.
As Thursday progresses, the thunderstorms will enter an area of very unstable, warm and moist air across far eastern Texas and Louisiana. Powerful westerly winds behind the thunderstorms will be met with strong southerly winds ahead of them, resulting in a twisting motion of the lower atmosphere.
The second round of thunderstorms will take on rotating supercell characteristics in the late morning into the early evening hours from near Lufkin, Texas eastward to near Hattiesburg, Miss and New Orleans. This is the window of opportunity for the worst of the thunderstorm outbreak to take place.