A tornado watch is in effect in the Kansas City area until 1 a.m. Thursday, but meteorologists differ on their predictions for the severity of the coming storm.
While the national headquarters of the National Weather Service say tornadoes are possible with 90 mph wind gusts in the area, the local Pleasant Hill office of the National Weather Service has a more conservative forecast.
"That's a little strong for my liking," said Chris Gitro, a meteorologist at Pleasant Hill.
He said that, after a day of monitoring the storm, he believes a few tornadoes are possible and wind gusts may reach up to 70 mph.
"We encourage everybody to maintain situational awareness" and have access to multiple means of receiving warnings, he said.
Scattered hail is also predicted in the area, which includes all of the Kansas City metro area, northwest Missouri and parts of northeast Kansas.
Severe thunderstorm warnings have been issued in Platte County, Maryville, Atchison and other cities in Kansas and Missouri. For a complete list, visit the National Weather Service's Twitter account.
A dispatcher said winds have hit 70 mph in Platte County.
A tornado warning has been issued until 7:45 p.m. in Burlington Junction, Clearmont and Elmo, Mo.
If tornadoes do develop, they are expected to spin up quickly and be short-lived, the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill said earlier Wednesday.
A flash-flood watch has been issued for eastern Kansas and western Missouri, including the entire Kansas City area, from 7 p.m. Wednesday through Thursday evening.
Some areas could receive up to 2 inches of rain in a short period from the initial round of thunderstorms Wednesday. An additional round of thunderstorms also could produce heavy rainfall, adding to the risk of flash flooding overnight and early Thursday.