People in at least six states from the Plains to the Midwest are bracing for dangerous storms that forecasters say could produce hurricane-force winds, very large hail and a few "intense" tornadoes beginning late Tuesday afternoon.
According to the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., the severe weather outbreak is expected to stretch from southern South Dakota through Nebraska, Kansas, southern Iowa, northern Missouri and west-central Illinois.
Forecasters predict that damaging winds — 60-80 mph in some places — and large hail will be widespread.
"It's called a 'land hurricane,' and one could develop tonight across the Plains," CBS Chicago's Megan Glaros tweeted.
According to Accuweather.com, the storms will be accompanied by heavy rain (2 to 4 inches) that could cause flash flooding in some areas.
The National Weather Service is urging residents to review their safety procedures and, if needed, move to a safe place — "ideally in an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building."
NWS forecaster Bill Bunting told Reuters the possibility of an EF-2 tornado (with winds over 135 mph) is high.
"This is a fairly widespread severe weather day, and it's not the end of it," Bunting said.
The same storm system is expected to move into eastern Missouri, central Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia on Wednesday.
Depending on its size, the system may be classified as a derecho — a complex of straight-line storms at least 240 miles wide with winds gusts of greater than 58 mph.
In June 2012, a deadly derecho stretching 700 miles pummeled the Midwest to the mid-Atlantic, killing nine people and leaving millions without power. The Washington, D.C., area was particularly hard hit.