May 31 (Bloomberg) -- Severe thunderstorms, baseball-sized hail, flooding and possibly tornadoes may sweep across parts of Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas today, according to the U.S. Storm Prediction Center.
There’s a 45 percent chance of storms producing damaging hail from Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to near Joplin, Missouri, and Fayetteville, Arkansas, the center said. Central Oklahoma, including Moore, where 24 people were killed by an EF-5 tornado last week, has the highest odds of twisters touching down today.
The tornado threat “should diminish late evening and overnight,” but strong to severe thunderstorms may persist and move across portions of eastern Oklahoma and the Ozarks, said Roger Edwards, a forecaster at the center in Norman, Oklahoma.
Powerful thunderstorms, hail and tornadoes swept across the Great Plains from Wisconsin to Oklahoma yesterday, destroying homes and tearing down trees and power lines, according to the center. Nine people were injured, the Associated Press said.
Severe thunderstorms and the tornadoes that sometimes accompany them caused $15 billion in insured losses in 2012 and $25 billion in 2011, according to the Insurance Information Institute in New York.
From 1992 to 2011, thunderstorms and tornadoes accounted for the second-highest amount of catastrophic loss in the U.S., $130.2 billion, topped only by hurricanes and tropical storms with $161.3 billion, according to the institute.
Flood and flash flood alerts are posted today from Illinois, including Chicago, to Oklahoma. The entire region is expected to receive heavy rain on ground that has already been soaked by storms.
Chicago may receive at least 3 inches (8 centimeters) of rain by tomorrow, according to the National Weather Service. Major flooding is occurring along portions of the Mississippi River from Gladstone, Illinois, to Hannibal, Missouri. The river at Hannibal is expected to crest at 25.9 feet in two days, almost two feet above the major flood stage of 24 feet although below the record 31.8 feet set in 1993.
As violent weather threatens the central U.S., temperatures on the East Coast are forecast to rise into the 90s Fahrenheit (30s Celsius) again today from Washington to Boston, the weather service said.
The temperature in Central Park reached 90 degrees yesterday and is expected to peak at 92 today. Yesterday’s normal high is 75.
Boston reached 88 yesterday, 17 degrees above normal, and is expected to hit 92 today. Washington peaked at 90 yesterday, 11 above normal, and may see 91 today.
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