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Thunderstorms packing high winds threaten New Jersey to Florida midweek

The threat of damaging and dangerous thunderstorms will focus along part of the Atlantic coast into Wednesday evening as the powerful storm system responsible for severe weather in the central United States shifts eastward, AccuWeather meteorologists warn.

While the magnitude of severe weather and the overall intensity of thunderstorms may be somewhat lower than prior days this week, some of the storms will reach levels capable of causing property damage and physical harm in a heavily populated zone.

"The main threats from the storms will be for powerful wind gusts that can break tree limbs and bring down power lines," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Dombek said.

Gusts in many of the storms will range from 50-60 mph, with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 65 mph.

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"There is also the potential for a couple of tornadoes, especially in the zone from eastern Virginia to eastern Maryland," Dombek said. "This is close to the area where the coastal storm system is expected to form."

The Richmond, Virginia, metro area is within that threat zone.

Dombek added that a couple of the storms may also produce hail large enough to damage vehicles and break windows.

AccuWeather meteorologists are also monitoring areas farther to the south over the Florida Peninsula for robust thunderstorms. These storms would tend to erupt along a cold front and could pack strong wind gusts of 50-60 mph and brief torrential downpours.

Florida natives and those on spring break at area beaches, golf courses and theme parks should stay alert to rapidly changing weather conditions. As always, move indoors and away from windows. Experts agree that picnic pavilions and golf carts do not offer adequate protection from lightning strikes.

As is the case with any severe thunderstorm, there is always the outside chance of a brief tornado or waterspout being spawned.

As much colder air expands from the Midwest to the Atlantic coast during the latter part of the week, the severe weather threat will end. However, a powerful nor'easter will make for blustery and unseasonably cold conditions in many areas that have been in the severe weather threat zones since Monday.

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