(CNN) -- A storm system stretching from Texas north to Michigan threatens to bring "widespread damaging winds and several tornadoes" to parts of 10 states, the National Weather Service said Tuesday.
"An increasing threat for severe thunderstorms will occur through tonight in advance of a strong cold front moving across the central United States," the weather service's Storm Prediction Center said. "The most intense thunderstorms are anticipated late this afternoon and especially into the overnight hours tonight across parts of the lower Ohio Valley, mid-South and lower Mississippi Valley."
States threatened by what the agency called a moderate risk of severe weather are Arkansas, southern Illinois, extreme southwestern Indiana, western Kentucky, western Tennessee, southern Missouri, northern Louisiana, northern Mississippi, southeastern Oklahoma and northeastern Texas, the agency said.
But severe storms are possible along a line from the southern Great Lakes to the Louisiana coast, the Storm Prediction Center said.
Tornado watches were up Tuesday afternoon for portions of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma and Texas.
Those storms could be at their most dangerous late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, CNN meteorologist Sarah Dillingham said.
Even outside the areas most at risk for tornadoes, wind gusts could reach 80 mph in some areas -- enough to bring down trees and power lines, she said.
On Wednesday, the threat shifts farther east, with parts of Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia at moderate risk of severe weather, including damaging winds and isolated tornadoes, the Storm Prediction Center said.
After the severe weather, a cold-weather system could bring snow and freezing rain to the Midwest, beginning Wednesday, and the threat of extremely cold weather in the northern Plains states and Upper Midwest, particularly on Thursday.