Nearly 52 million people are at risk for severe weather Wednesday

(CNN) — A clash of record-breaking heat in the South and more seasonable weather to the North will lead to severe storms across 16 states Wednesday, putting 52 million people at risk.

A slight risk — level 2 of 5 — stretches from Missouri to the Carolinas and from Iowa to Georgia. It also includes a part of Texas.

“All forms of severe weather are possible today and tonight, with very large hail and damaging winds the primary threat,” says CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen. “Tornadoes are also likely, especially in the enhanced risk area.”

This enhanced risk area — level 3 of 5 — is in place for parts of western Ohio Valley, central Mississippi Valley, and Tennessee Valley.

As the storm becomes better organized, the Storm Prediction Center may elevate the risk level to moderate — level 4 of 5.

Storms will begin to form this afternoon over parts of Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas. They will quickly spread into the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys in the overnight hours.

Storms across the South will bubble up in the afternoon and dissipate in severity as the sun sets, acting very much like summer pop-up storms.

Unseasonable heat across the South
Temperatures are running 10 to 20 degrees above average across the South.

High temperatures will rise into the 90s across Arkansas and Oklahoma.

“At least 3 dozen record highs are possible today and tomorrow,” says Hennen. “Including cities like Dallas, St. Louis, Little Rock, New Orleans, and Miami.”

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The unseasonably warm air will push out for most of these states as the line of storms rolls through.

Only Florida and portions of Georgia and the Carolinas will be above average Thursday.

By Friday morning, people across the Central plains could wake up to near-freezing temperatures.

Feet of snow for interior New England
As this storm system moves off the East Coast Thursday, a low-pressure system is forecast to rapidly intensify near the New England coast.

Strong winds will lash the region and wet snow will impact most of northern New England, making for dangerous travel in the region.

Snow accumulation of over a foot is possible in some areas.

Winds will also develop some lake effect snow late Thursday into Friday downwind from the lower Great Lakes.