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Tornado warning issued in Mass. as storm front marches east


A tornado warning was issued for parts of Massachusetts on Wednesday evening as a severe weather storm capable of producing a twister was spotted on radar, forecasters said.

The "dangerous storm" was located near Salem, or 11 miles northeast of Amherst, the National Weather Service warned.

Residents were told to take cover. No confirmed tornado was spotted, however, and about 45 minutes later the Weather Service changed their warning in the area to one alerting of possible severe thunderstorms with the potential for damaging winds of more than 60 mph.

The warnings were issued as the same storm front that spawned downpours and deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma marched east, forecasters said.

An area stretching from the Appalachians into the lower Great Lakes and New England was at "slight risk" of severe thunderstorms Wednesday night into Thursday.

Stronger and sometimes severe storms carrying gusty winds and hail were seen in southwestern Pennsylvania along the crest of the Appalachian range and into the Lower Great Lakes, according to the Weather Service.

The areas at risk for thunderstorms included Indianapolis, Columbus, Detroit, Boston and Cleveland but also stretched into Western New York and Connecticut. 

An earlier threat of possible isolated tornadoes farther west, in Western Ohio into the Tennessee Valley, "appears to have diminished" because of cooling from cloud cover, forecasters said.

However at least one funnel cloud was reported in central Florida in the town of Viera, according to NBC station WESH TV. 

The Northern Rockies area — from Northeast Wyoming through Western Montana — could also see storms with severe hail and wind, the Weather Service said.

The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore tells Brian Williams thunderstorms are now expected from New York and Connecticut down to Tennessee.

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Weather.com's forecast showed a map outlining the main area of risk, which stretched from Buffalo to Charleston. It also said the main danger would be from high winds and hail, but cautioned there was a “slight risk” of tornadoes.

"Other showers and thunderstorms are possible from the remainder of the Northeast and Great Lakes into the South," it said.

"A few isolated severe thunderstorms producing damaging wind gusts and hail are possible in the lower Mississippi Valley. Showers and thunderstorms continue from the Northeast to the Southeast Thursday, although the severe threat is even lower," weather.com added.

Parts of northeast Kentucky, Ohio, southeast Michigan, western Pennsylvania and western New York were given a 3 out of 10 on Weather.com's tornado probability scale, with 10 representing the highest probability of twisters. The cities of Cincinnati, Columbus, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Buffalo were all included in this risk area.

Meanwhile, a tornado rating of 2 was given to Tennessee, most of Kentucky, much of eastern Indiana, parts of southern and eastern Michigan, eastern West Virginia, much of Pennsylvania and much of upstate New York.

Connecticut was hit by strong storms that caused some damage in northern parts of the state on Tuesday, NBCConnecticut.com reported.

A storm moved through Copake, New York, just before 5 p.m. and headed southeast through Massachusetts and along the extreme northwest corner of Connecticut, the station said. Downed trees and power lines were found in Falls Village and lightning strikes came close to homes in Cornwall.

A tree fell on cars in the high school parking lot in Falls Village. "It's just a car. We're just here to make sure all the kids were safe," said Patricia Chamberlain, superintendent, whose car was among those hit.

Thunder, lightning, high winds and hail were reported in several Conn. towns, including Salisbury, Canaan, South Windsor and Manchester.