Gusty winds capable of causing tree damage and power outages are possible across a large stretch of the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic on Thursday night and Friday morning. Wind gusts as high as 60 MPH are possible as a low-pressure system quickly moves through the region.

A huge swath of wind alerts is in place ahead of the fast-moving storm system. High wind warnings, which are shaded in dark brown on the map above, cover the areas at greatest risk for powerful wind gusts, including most of Ohio, central Indiana, and portions of Pennsylvania and New York. Communities under the warning could see wind gusts as high as 60 MPH. Wind advisories, which are in effect for counties shaded in light brown, cover more than a dozen states for the potential for wind gusts of 40 to 50 MPH.

The low-pressure system causing all of the severe weather in the southeastern United States on Thursday afternoon will deepen as it moves toward the Great Lakes overnight Thursday into Friday. Winds are racing in the lower levels of the atmosphere, blowing at more than 70 MPH just a few thousand feet above ground level.

The weather model graphic above, from Tropical Tidbits, shows those strong low-level winds very early on Friday morning as the low-pressure system approaches the Great Lakes. Those low-level winds will continue moving along even as thunderstorm activity wanes on Thursday evening. It won’t take much to mix those strong winds down to the surface, setting the stage for widespread gusty winds over the next day or so. 

Wind damage is possible when gusts creep above 45 MPH. Trees, tree limbs, and power lines could fall when the winds crank up, especially in areas where it’s rained recently. Trees have a harder time standing up to the stress of gusty winds when the soil is wet and loose.

Make sure you’ve got a few flashlights in easy-to-grab spots in case the electricity goes out in the middle of the night. Secure loose objects that could blow around and cause damage if they hit something.

It’s also a good idea to remain mindful of any large limbs or trees that may fall into your home. Most wind-related injuries are caused by trees falling through roofs or walls. If a large tree looms over your bedroom, for instance, it’d be a good idea to crash on the couch on a windy night like this.

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