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Tornado Threat as Thunderstorms Hit Hail-Lashed Midwest, Plains

What Causes Baseball-Sized Hail? 1:36

Severe thunderstorms threatened to slam the Plains, Midwest and Ohio Valley Thursday with damaging wind gusts, hail and even possible tornadoes, forecasters warned.

An area from northeast Oklahoma and southeast Kansas through to central Ohio was at greatest risk of twisters, according to Weather Channel lead meteorologist Kevin Roth.

Hail was expected across the area on Thursday, with the tornado risk confined to late in the day. “The most likely time would be during the evening into overnight hours after dark,” Roth said.

The TORCON threat level was 4 out of a possible 10, he added, reflecting a quieter than usual start to the tornado season.

“The cold winter has led to a slow start,” he said. “The cold and dry patterns have meant that the ingredients you expect for a tornado have not really materialized — although we got a little taste of it last week.”

On Friday, the severe weather was expected to shift southwards towards Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and central Appalachians. Isolated tornadoes will once again be possible.

At least person was killed and several others injured when a series of "extremely dangerous" tornadoes ripped through Oklahoma least week, knocking out power and leaving a massive trail of destruction with the Tulsa area worst affected.

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- Alastair Jamieson