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    Tornadoes, Flooding Rain Targeting Texas

    By By Bill Deger, Meteorologist
    March 20, 2012, 8:08:45 AM EDT

    An outbreak of violent severe thunderstorms is expected through tonight across the southern Plains.

    Some of the storms will become violent enough to spawn tornadoes, while many others will unleash flooding, producing a situation that will be exasperated by additional storms through midweek.

    The driving force behind this nasty weather was the same potent storm that brought a tornado to California, heavy snow to the Southwest and powerful winds to the western High Plains over the weekend.

    On Sunday night, the energy from the storm resulted in several strong storms and even tornadoes from the Texas Panhandle to western Nebraska.

    Today, the focus for severe storms will extend from Texas north through parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa.

    While some storms will be ongoing early in the day from western Texas to Kansas, the worst of the weather will strike this afternoon and evening. Austin, San Antonio and Dallas-Fort Worth will be among the major metropolitan areas targeted by the storms later today.

    Hailstones as large as golf balls and destructive wind gusts to 80 mph will be the greatest threat faced from any strong storm, in addition to heavy rain and always dangerous lightning.


    Conditions will also be ripe for the formation of a few tornadoes from the strongest of storms. While possible anywhere in the forecast severe storm zone, central and eastern Texas to southeastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas appears to be the area at greatest risk for a couple of tornadoes.

    While the setup does not rival the March 2nd outbreak, it could be the first day with widespread tornado touchdowns since.

    Overnight, the threat will shift toward the Texas-Gulf Coast, and into portions of the lower Mississippi Valley.

    Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski first warned of the potential for this outbreak last week, stating that it threatened to bring the "whole nine yards of danger."


    Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski elaborated on this point on Sunday, adding that "the outbreak will also prove to be a lengthy one," with the threat for severe storms and flooding expected to last for several days from Texas and Louisiana north to eastern Kansas and Missouri.

    Perhaps the largest threat that will be realized through midweek will be flooding. Several inches of rain will fall from slow-moving thunderstorms, and from storms that continuously form over the same area, a process known as "training."

    The heavy rain will overwhelm drainage ditches, storm drains and fill low-lying ares with torrents of water. The prolonged nature of the rain will eventually lead to creek, stream and even river flooding.

    "It is highly likely that officials will be forced to evacuate some communities," warns Pydynowski.

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