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Severe storms on Sunday’s horizon

WASHINGTON — This can’t be stressed enough: On Sunday, please make sure you have the means necessary to receive weather warnings. There’s a good chance some will be some issued throughout the afternoon and evening hours.

With a few showers here and there continuing into early afternoon hours, the main event will arrive in the D.C. area by the late afternoon. The threat continues into the late evening hours.

Sunshine will be our enemy today, and despite the early cloud cover, temperatures will top out in the mid- to upper-80s. The very humid conditions will continue to stream into the Mid-Atlantic from the south.

These factors, combined with a series of disturbances that will move away from the Ohio Valley and head southeast into the Mid-Atlantic, will set the breeding ground for some pretty strong to severe storms.

These disturbances will move through the upper levels of our atmosphere, strengthening ahead of a strong cold front that will eventually cross through and clear the area by Monday afternoon.

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After the first disturbance of early Sunday morning slides east, we could get some sunshine throughout the region. Though weekend sunshine is generally welcomed, all it will do today is heighten the chance for severe weather.

The Storm Prediction Center has placed the D.C. region in a “slight risk” area for severe weather. You’ve probably heard that a lot this summer. That means there’s an increased risk to experience severe weather in the outline area.

They use the terminology “slight,” “moderate,” and “high” chances, with “slight risk” being on the low end and “high risk” on the high end of the spectrum.

Anytime the Storm Prediction Center issues this — which is completely different than a “watch” or a “warning” — it tells meteorologists that we’re in the target zone for severe weather. Once we get into it, our local National Weather Service office will issue a “watch” or “warning” based on their forecasts and what is happening within their forecast area.

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The difference between a "watch" and a "warning" is to make sure that you have a way to receive these alerts on Sunday — whether it be a cell phone app, weather radio, WJLA/NewsChannel 8 or WTOP 103.5FM.

The “slight risk” area (yellow) includes our entire region with a moderate risk area (red) for severe weather throughout West Virginia and Kentucky.

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While any of these storms could produce frequent cloud-to-ground lightning, large hail, isolated tornadoes, and excessive rainfall — which could lead to immediate water ponding on the roadways and flash flooding — our main threat will be damaging winds across the region.

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There’s about a 30 percent chance to see damaging winds across the area that could lead to downed trees, downed power lines and possible structural damage.

Remember, if we get sunshine throughout the day, it only increases our chances for a widespread severe event. If we can keep some of the cloud cover and have some of the storms dissipate over the Allegheny Mountains, it decreases our chances for widespread severe weather.

If you’re headed out this evening to any outdoor activities, you’ll want to keep and eye to the sky and have a plan in case severe weather hits.

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One of our models in this picture shows at 7 p.m. this evening and while this could be slightly overdone, it should be stressed that this could be a possibility.

The best chance for severe weather will be late Sunday afternoon through the early part of the overnight hours. At anytime, these storms could be strong to severe with tornadoes, damaging winds and hail possible.

By tomorrow, isolated showers are possible. It’ll be breezy as humidity and heat begin to drop off.

Please keep yourself safe today and tonight. Keep it here; we’ll update you on the situation as it unfolds.

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