(NEW YORK) — The Midwest is bracing itself for an outbreak of violent weather Saturday that could be “life-threatening,” according to forecasters.
Baseball-sized hail and damaging 70 mph winds are expected to whip through a handful of states.
A warning was issued Friday for parts of Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.
Oklahoma and Kansas are expected to be the hardest hit, according to a rare high risk warning issued Friday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center.
Paul Walker, an Accuweather senior meteorologist, told ABC News that a warning two days in advance of a storm was unusual and cautioned that the weekend “should be particularly dangerous.”
Oklahoma had its first brush with the severe weekend weather on Friday when at least one tornado ripped through the town of Norman, where the University of Oklahoma is located, leaving 19 people hurt with “bumps and bruises” and a trail of property damage.
One patient was hospitalized and in fair condition Friday, said Norman Regional Hospital spokesperson Kelly Wells.
Residents began assessing the damage today before preparing for another day of wild weather. A brick storefront was decimated by the storm. One resident told ABC News a woman lost the roof on her house.
“Fortunately, the portion of the roof that’s left is right over our bedroom. I mean, it was there and gone before we could even get out of bed,” she said.
The National Weather Service is urging residents in the danger zone to heed its strongly-worded warning.
The storm system was moving toward the Rockies and energizing a warm, moist flow of air from the Gulf of Mexico, according to Accuweather.
Those conditions, plus differing wind directions in the atmosphere and on the surface, will increase the likelihood of tornado-spawning storms today, Accuweather senior meteorologist Paul Walker said.
“All the pieces of the pie are coming together to make a particularly dangerous situation.”
California also dealt with severe weather on Friday when thunderstorms, hail and fierce winds pummeled parts of the state.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Chuck Johnston, CNN Newswire
Ray Sanchez, CNN Newswire