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Hail to thee, Minnesota! Potentially damaging winds, tornado risk, too

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Hail! Minnesota may be the state song, but it also doubles as the forecast for the time being.

Hail was reported overnight in various sizes – from pea to golf ball – along with some spectacular lightning, around the state. Inver Grove Heights:

Rosemount:

Lakeville:

Just southwest of Lakeville:

Duluth:

(See more hail pics from BringMeTheNews readers at bottom.)

This clip shows some spectacular lightning overnight, shot by the group Minnesota Storm Chasers in Coon Rapids:

Also overnight: A rare heat burst hit Albert Lea shortly after 1 a.m., when the temperature leapt from 68 degrees to 82 degrees in 20 minutes, and the dew point dropped from 70 percent to 20 percent as winds went from 8 mph to gusts up to 46 mph, the National Weather Service notes.

But all that may have been Mother Nature's preview of severe weather to come Thursday.

Forecasters say the threat of severe weather will continue through the day, especially in the afternoon and evening. The National Weather Service says scattered showers and thunderstorms are possible in the metro between 7 and 9 a.m.

At MPR News, meteorologist Paul Huttner says more hail an inch or two in diameter is likely to fall with Thursday's storms. He also says the warm front that's approaching includes enough wind shear that it could potentially produce a tornado. Huttner started a live blog as the storms moved in Wednesday evening.

Like many travelers, the storms are coming into Minnesota along the Interstate 35 corridor. AccuWeather's storm warning meteorologist says he thinks they're more likely to bring straight-line winds than tornadoes but adds this:

The strongest storms and hence the greatest risk to lives and property on Thursday will reach from central Minnesota, southward to north-central Texas.

The warm front will push temperatures up near 80 degrees in the Twin Cities Thursday, forecasters say. The high is expected to be 20 degrees colder on Friday, when there's a 30 percent chance of rain in the form of showers rather than storms.

The outlook for Duluth shows highs in the 50s both Thursday and Friday.

Fargo-Moorhead should expect heavy rain Thursday but may get a look at the sun Friday, with highs warming from the mid 50s to the lower 60s.

Southwestern Minnesota should also see the sun come out on Friday, when highs will be in the 60s following Thursday's rain and mid-70's.

More from the National Weather Service on the threat of severe weather Thursday:

If you need a song to hum to drown out the sound of the hail, there's always this one. Be forewarned, though, that while it's heartfelt, it's not very peppy.

Here's a few more hail photos from our readers (thanks for these!):

Rob Erickson in Webster, Minnesota:

Anna Huston Larson in Farmington, Minnesota:

Kristen Dannecker in Apple Valley, Minnesota:

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