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Dangerous Storms Target Midwest, Great Lakes

UPDATED 12:45 PM CDT, July 20, 2011

UPDATED By WeatherBug Sr. Meteorologist, James West

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While much of the U.S. is caught in a dangerous heat wave, the U.S. Northern-tier will have to contend with a new wave of storms today. Storms packing large hail, destructive wind gusts and even a few brief tornadoes will be common from North Dakota to western and northern Wisconsin.

WeatherBug Meteorologist Jason Parkin has the latest on today`s severe storm threat and the continuing heat wave in this exclusive WeatherBug Severe Weather Video.

While a huge bubble of high pressure will help suppress thunderstorms across much of the U.S. today, a disturbance racing along the northern fringes of the immense heat will trigger batches of storms this afternoon and evening. Storms will fire across Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and Michigan`s Upper Peninsula.

The primary threat with these storms will be large hail up to golf ball-size and destructive wind gusts in excess of 70 mph for Grand Forks and Minot, N.D., Minneapolis, as well as Marquette, Mich. Even a brief tornado cannot be completely ruled out.

Even further south across the central Plains, a cold front barreling into the dangerous heat wave will set the stage for a few storms today stretching from northeastern Colorado to Minnesota. Although the storms will diminish in intensity quickly after sunset, locally large hail and isolated destructive wind gusts will be possible for North Platte and Valentine, Neb., and Sioux Falls, S.D.

A few strong storms will also roll across extreme northern Maine today. These could produce a few damaging wind gusts.

By Thursday, a fast moving river of air, known as the "jet stream," will transport disturbances along the U.S. Northern-tier. South of this river of air lies extremely hot and soupy air, meaning dangerous storms will erupt along the cold front in the central Plains and Middle Mississippi Valley, and a jolting cluster of storms will charge along the same front extending across northern New England.

The thunderstorms will contain large hail, damaging wind gusts and even a few tornadoes for Omaha and Lincoln, Neb., and Caribou and Augusta, Maine.

While dangerous storms will erupt along the northern fringes of an immense bubble of heat just ahead of the cold front encompassing large stretches of the Plains, the dangerous and unrelenting heat will expand to the East Coast by the latter stages of the week. For more on the Central U.S. heat wave, click here.

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