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New round of thunderstorms threatens Midwest

By Brendan O'Brien

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - A fresh batch of damaging storms is expected to sweep through the Midwest on Monday afternoon and evening, potentially dampening efforts to restore power to thousands of households in the region.

The National Weather Service issued severe thunderstorm watches and warnings for portions of south-central and southeastern Iowa, northwestern Illinois and northern Missouri through Monday evening.

The thunderstorms could pack 80 mph winds, large hail and possibly a few tornadoes, the service said.

Parts of central and eastern Iowa, northern Illinois, southeastern Minnesota, southern Indiana and northern Kentucky were also under flash flood and flood warnings on Monday, according to the weather service.

The severe weather could pose problems for Xcel Energy Inc workers in Minnesota who are attempting to restore power to 54,000 households, about 48,000 of which are in the Twin Cities area.

According to the power company, up to 614,000 customers have experienced power outages since early Friday morning after an initial round of storms rolled through, downing trees, damaging power lines and flooding streets throughout southern Minnesota.

Power is expected to be fully restored by early Wednesday, according to Xcel Energy spokesman Tom Hoen.

A severe storm moved through the Omaha, Nebraska, metro area on Monday morning, bringing with it strong winds. More than 43,000 Omaha Public Power District customers were without power Monday afternoon because of that storm.

In western Iowa, 6,400 customers were without power, according to MidAmerican Energy. Weather spotters in Council Bluffs, a suburb of Omaha, reported 60 mph wind gusts that brought down trees and power lines.

(Reporting By Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee, David Bailey in Minneapolis and Katie Knapp Schubert in Omaha; editing by Jim Marshall)

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