CHICAGO (Reuters) - Thunderstorms with hail and high winds in spots will keep the central United States wet and windy on Friday with risks of potential tornadoes rising into the afternoon and evening, meteorologists said.
One band of thunderstorms will move from Missouri and Illinois along the Ohio River across Indiana into Ohio and parts of Kentucky. Another system will hit southwest Missouri and Oklahoma and possibly into north Texas.
Thursday's weather was a relative respite, despite wind damage in parts of Utah and isolated hail storms in Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri, said forecaster John Hart at the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center.
Several severe thunderstorms could hatch tornadoes on Friday afternoon and evening, Hart said.
"We are heading into the primary part of the tornado season," Hart said. "It is very likely we will have several more instances of severe weather risk and tornado activity over the next few weeks."
The risk carries into early next week when Hart expects volatile and stormy weather in the southern plains and lower Mississippi Valley. A powerful jet stream is pulling moisture up into the region from the Gulf, meteorologists
"The greatest threat of tornadoes will be in eastern Missouri and central Illinois," according to the web site www.weather.com.
Flash flooding threats will increase in areas of the Ohio River valley with already saturated soils from recent storms, forecasters said.
Severe storms and tornadoes last week killed at least 47 people, including 24 in North Carolina alone.
At least 33 tornado sightings were unofficially reported from Oklahoma to Ohio from Tuesday night through Wednesday morning, according to Accuweather meteorologists.
(Reporting by Eric Johnson. Editing by Peter Bohan)