The National Weather Service has expanded a previously-issued severe thunderstorm watch to now inlude all of metro Birmingham.

The watch is effective until 7 p.m.

This watch was originally issued for an area that included northwest Alabama, but came no further south than Walker and Cullman counties. But storm cells started to develop in the central part of the state in the afternoon, prompting the NWS to enlarge the watch area.

The watch also includes much of northern Mississippi, the western half of Tennessee, the Missouri "boot heel" region, parts of eastern Arkansas, and southwest and south central Kentucky.

At 5:30 p.m., NWS Doppler radar in Calera showed a line of strong storms, possibly including small hail, entering the western part of the metro area. A larger batch of storms was moving into the Muscle Shoals area. All storms were moving generally due east.

Storm development is expected to continue throughout the evening, ending no later than midnight. Skies will clear on Friday, with lower daytime temperatures.

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