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Strong storms building, heading to Tenn.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - 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 after 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 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.