Severe thunderstorms are possible in the Chicago and surrounding Illinois area during the day Wednesday into the evening, according to the National Weather Service. | Graphic via NWS

The National Weather Service says strong thunderstorms Wednesday in the Chicagoland area could turn severe this afternoon with a threat of large hail and damaging winds.

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a hazardous weather outlook for Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Cook, DuPage, Kane, Will, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, LaSalle, Kendall, Grundy, Kankakee, Livingston, Iroquois and Ford counties.

Periods of heavy rain-producing showers and thunderstorms are expected Wednesday, according to the outlook.

The heavy rainfall could result in some areas experiencing flash flooding, especially in urban areas.

A conditional threat for severe storms also exists Wednesday afternoon.

“While uncertainty remains with the extent of this severe threat due to early morning clouds and rainfall, if sufficient destabilization materializes, the storms this afternoon could become severe,” the outlook says.

Large hail and damaging winds would be the primary severe threats, the NWS said. A “low-end threat” for a tornado or two would also exist.

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Hail could be to a quarter in size and damaging winds up to 60 mph are possible.

The NWS said flooding risk is at an “elevated” level. Residents are reminded to not walk or drive through floodwaters.

Forecasters said they recommend residents have multiple ways to get weather warnings and take cover if one is issued.