Strong storms building, heading to Middle Tenn. Thursday

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 1:17pm

West Tennessee is battening down for a blow as the first major storm system of spring pushes into the region.

Thunderstorms are expected to intensify beginning Wednesday afternoon and become most intense as a cold front moves across the Mississippi River after sunset.

Forecasters say strong winds are likely and downpours could dump as much as 2.5 inches of rain — more in areas of heavy thunderstorms. Localized flooding is possible in low-lying spots. There is also the possibility of damaging hail and brief spin-up tornadoes.

"The primary threats are damaging winds, hail and localized flooding, but I'm not ruling out an isolated spin-up tornado," said Danny Gant, a meteorologist with the Memphis office of the National Weather Service.

"There will be heavy rain," Gant said.

Forecasters expect lowland, small stream and urban street flooding with rain continuing through Thursday.

While this is the first severe storm event of the spring, the National Severe Storms Forecast Center characterizes the damage risk as slight.

The front will push on eastward and the regions of Middle Tennessee and East Tennessee will have the same risks on Thursday and Thursday evening.

The front is expected to cross the Tennessee River into Middle Tennessee around dawn Thursday.

Thunderstorms are expected to begin in the eastern Tennessee River Valley Thursday afternoon.