BOSTON (Reuters) - Much of the Northeast braced for thunderstorms, hail and high winds on Wednesday as forecasts called for severe weather and set the stage for possible tornadoes.
Portions of states from the Mid-Atlantic through New England were included in a National Weather Service tornado watch in effect from late afternoon until 8 p.m. with parts of the region under a thunderstorm watch that threatened to bring hail and wind gusts to 70 miles per hour.
Around Boston, the storms were expected to hit during the evening rush hour, said AccuWeather.com meteorologist Mike Pigott.
"New England is about to take a good hit here of severe weather over the next six to 12 hours," he said.
Severe weather was expected as a result of colder air clashing with warm, humid weather that has produced some record-setting temperatures through much of the Mid-Atlantic, meteorologists said.
Pigott said there is a "good possibility" for a tornado to develop in New England later on Wednesday.
A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms that could spawn tornadoes, damaging winds, hail and dangerous lightning, said Charlie Foley, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts.
"The atmosphere across most of New England, with the exception of Cape Cod and the islands, is favorable for severe weather," he said.
New England sees, on average, two or three tornadoes per year, Foley said.
"They are rare, but not unique," he said.
Noticeably cooler and less humid weather was forecast for the Northeast on Thursday.
(Reporting by Lauren Keiper; Dditing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)