Powerful thunderstorms are expected to rumble from Iowa to Maryland today, packing hail, lightning and tree-toppling winds today but it's tomorrow that is of concern to New Jersey.

The National Weather Service says nearly 75 million people in 19 states could see dangerous weather as a massive line of violent storms roll through the Midwest toward the Mid-Atlantic this evening. The weather service has issued tornado warnings in several counties in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin already, and says it already has a report of a tornado touching down about 90 miles north of Des Moines. It's not yet clear if it caused any damage or injuries.

Forecasters are warning that the storms may even spawn an unusual weather event called a derecho — a massive storm of strong straight-line winds spanning at least 240 miles. This same type of storm caused a lot of damage in south Jersey last July bringing down many trees and power lines in a relative short period of time.

In its latest briefing about the expected storm the National Weather Service warns of widespread flash flooding and river flooding as rain begins to fall early Thursday morning and lasts throughout the day, leaving 1-to-4 inches of rain before tapering off in  the evening.

There is also a good chance for trees to become uprooted in the saturated soil and topple over onto homes and power lines.

NJ Transit is offering system wide cross-honoring on bus, rail, light rail and private bus carriers as of 5AM tomorrow morning.

Besides heavy rains falling on the already saturated ground, moderate river flooding tornadoes, strong damaging winds and large hail are all possible on Thursday.

The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center has put the southern part Jersey south of Interstate 195 at moderate risk for severe storms, including tornadoes, on Thursday while the rest of the state is at moderate risk.

NWS Severe Storm Prediction Center map (NWS)


The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch for most of New Jersey starting Thursday morning as it won't take much rain to send rivers and streams over their banks again. Some storms may be locally intense with large hail, torrential downpours and frequent lightning strikes.

A Flood Warning remains in effect for Burlington County as the north branch of the Rancocas Creek at Pemberton remains high and will likely rise as the heavy rain begins to fall on Thursday.

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The Associated Press contributed to this story