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By Alex Johnson

If you live in the eastern half of the United States, those booms you hear Monday might not be fireworks.

A huge line of thunderstorms stretching from southwest Missouri all the way to northeastern Pennsylvania was forecast to drop as much as 5 inches of rain Monday, putting a decided damper on Independence Day fireworks and baseball games for millions.

Locally severe storms are possible from the central Appalachian Mountains into the Ohio Valley and the mid-South, the National Weather Service said. Flash floods, damaging wind gusts and hail are possible, along with a tornado or two, it said.

A weather forecast map shows where rain is expected to be heaviest through Tuesday.The Weather Channel

"This is really an optimal setup for a lot of rain," said Greg Postel, a storm specialist for The Weather Channel. "Be prepared for a gloomy, unfortunately, Fourth of July."

The center of the system, with the possibility of 3 to 5 inches of rain, will stretch across the northern half of Illinois on Monday, with bands of rain up to 3 inches across a much larger area from Springfield, Missouri, across the middle parts of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio into Pennsylvania.

And more than an inch of rain is expected across pretty much the entire eastern half of the country, except for most of South Carolina and north of New York, forecasters said.

The storms were centered Sunday afternoon over the middle of the country, where tornado and flash flood watches were in effect for parts of Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas.

Heavy rain in St. Louis delayed the Cardinals' game against the Milwaukee Brewers early Sunday night, and heavy flooding was reported across southern Kansas.

The National Weather Service reporting that Eisenhower National Airport in Wichita had already gotten 6.05 inches of rain from Friday through Sunday morning.