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Memorial Day Forecast: Plains to Stay Stormy, East to Warm

By Alex Sosnowski, senior meteorologist.
May 27, 2014; 2:28 AM ET

While parts of the East and Southwest will be free of rain this Memorial Day, repeating storms will continue to bring flash flooding and drought relief to the southern Plains.

The sun will shine on much of the Ohio Valley, the mid-Atlantic, California and the Great Basin, as well as portions of the central Gulf coast on Memorial Day. Many of these areas will experience near- to above-average warmth.

For the Northeast, the warmth will lack staying power for midweek.

Spotty showers and thunderstorms will affect the Southeastern states, mainly in the afternoon, in what otherwise be a warm day with clouds and sunshine. Cities in the Southeast that may be affected by a pop-up thunderstorm include Atlanta, Orlando, Florida, and Charlotte, North Carolina.

People in both northern corners of the nation will have to wait out and dodge showers on Monday with unsettled conditions for part of New England and the Northwest. Both areas will be near the edge of building warmth to the south and cool conditions to the north. Cities that may be impacted by wet weather include Seattle and Portland (both Maine and Oregon).

By far, the most unsettled zone of the nation will be centered on the Plains. Showers and thunderstorms will repeat in this zone during much of the Memorial Day weekend. Plenty of moisture will be funneled northward from Mexico and across the south-central part of the United States.

Memorial Day forecast from AccuWeather.com MinuteCast™ has the minute-by-minute forecast for your exact location. Type your city name, select MinuteCast™, and input your street address. On mobile, you can also use your GPS location.

The downpours will affect the cities of Dallas, Denver, Oklahoma City, and Kansas City, Missouri. The rain can slow travel in the I-20, I-35, I-40 and I-70 corridors.

While the rainfall will delay and even totally foil some outdoor activities, the rain will have a double-edged sword.

The training effect of the rainfall will raise the risk of flash and urban flooding from portions of eastern New Mexico, west and central Texas to portions of Oklahoma, and much of Kansas.

However, beyond the problems for outdoor activities, the usual risk flash flooding brings, and the potential for some severe thunderstorms, the rainfall will bring great benefit to the region by hacking away at drought conditions.

In addition to downpours, some of the thunderstorms across the southern Plains will turn severe with damaging winds and hail.

Much of this area has experienced building drought since the middle of 2013. The drought reached exceptional proportions this spring and caused water supplies to shrivel. In addition to the strain on communities, the drought has had serious impact on agriculture in the region.

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The wet weather pattern will continue into midweek and is likely to mark the beginning of the end of the drought for many areas.

Already on Thursday, Amarillo, Texas, received its biggest single-day rainfall since Feb. 25, 2013, with 1.21 inches falling. On Feb. 25, 1.48 inches of rain fell.

Roswell, New Mexico, was inundated by 4.39 inches of rain Saturday morning, breaking the airport's all-time 24-hour rainfall record. The previous record was 4.34 inches on July 13, 1991.

Rainfall amounts from Saturday night to midday Sunday topped 4.50 inches in San Angelo, Texas.

Many areas over the southern and central High Plains have the potential to double their rainfall since last summer with local amounts of 3 to 6 inches into midweek.

According to AccuWeather Long-Range Expert Paul Pastelok, "We expect additional rain from the summer monsoon to kick in early over much of the central and southern High Plains and should go a long way to further dent the drought."

It will take considerable time in many cases to bring water levels back to normal but this is a great step in the right direction.

The rain will slice east of water-needy areas of California and Nevada.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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