OMAHA, Neb. - Much of the Midwest was bracing Wednesday for high winds, heavy rain and a chance of tornadoes as temperatures felt like summertime despite the official start of winter being only days away.
Forecasters across the Plains states predicted unusually warm weather, including likely record-breaking high temperatures in the mid-70s for much of Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and parts of Missouri.
But the warmth comes with dangerously high winds and threats of violent storms, just on the heels of devastating tornadoes last weekend that cut a path through states including Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Illinois and Kentucky, killing dozens of people.
The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning along a swath stretching from New Mexico to upper Michigan -- including Wisconsin and Illinois -- with strong sustained winds between 25 mph and 40 mph (40 kph to 64 kph) expected. Gusts could reach more than 70 mph (113 kph) at times, the weather service reported.
Damaging winds are likely to bring down trees and power lines, making widespread power outages possible, the weather service warned. Some schools in Nebraska canceled in-person classes and dozens of schools in Iowa planned to close early Wednesday in anticipation of bad weather.
"Travel will be very hazardous for high profiles vehicles, and delays are possible along Interstates due to overturned tractor trailers," the weather service said.
Residents also were warned that outdoor holiday decorations could become hazardous projectiles in the strong winds. Officials urged people to bring in or secure decorations, trash cans and outdoor furniture.