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Severe storms possible Tuesday afternoon

Strong to severe storms could bring damaging wind gusts Tuesday afternoon as a cold front moves through the region.

The heat index was nearing 100 degrees by 1 p.m., reaching 97 degrees at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and 96 degrees at the Inner Harbor. The heat and humidity are expected to fuel storms as slightly cooler, drier air and a disturbance in the upper levels of the atmosphere moves eastward.

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Storms could contain heavy rain, damaging winds and large hail, the National Weather Service cautioned. The weather service's Storm Prediction Center placed Maryland in an area with a 15 percent chance of damaging winds today.

A severe thunderstorm watch could be issued from West Virginia to southern Pennsylvania, including all of Maryland, forecasters said.

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The cold front is expected to bring slightly cooler temperatures and significantly drier air, if only for a day. Highs in the upper 80s and dew points in the upper 50s to lower 60s are forecast Wednesday.

Highs are forecast in the upper 80s the rest of the week, with humidity building back up in the second half of the week. Storms and showers are also possible Wednesday night and Thursday.

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