Following severe storms, significant flooding to take aim at Texas, Oklahoma
Slow-moving downpours caused flash flooding in Beaumont, Texas, on May 14. Cars could be seen driving through flooded roads. Turn around don't drown!
Days of stormy weather across the southern Plains may have residents wishing for sunshine, but AccuWeather meteorologists say the week of active weather across the region isn't over just yet.
The week began with feisty storms that unleashed damaging winds and hail across the western half of the Lone Star State on Monday and spun up two EF0 tornadoes well southeast of Austin on Tuesday.
Wednesday ushered in yet another round of strong storms from western Texas to southeastern Kansas. While Texas made it through Thursday unscathed by damaging storms, areas farther north weren't so fortunate.
Severe storms fired up from eastern Kansas to northern Illinois late Thursday and dumped flooding rain, hail and damaging winds across a wide swath of the nation's midsection.
Friday proved to be yet another active day with very moist air streaming into the region from the Gulf of Mexico.
"Friday started with heavy rain and thunderstorms pushing from southeastern Kansas to eastern Oklahoma and northwestern Arkansas," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.
"Flooding rain was the main concern on Friday morning as just a few of the thunderstorms turned severe," she added.
"At the same time that severe thunderstorms erupted over southern Oklahoma, violent thunderstorms fired along the dryline in western Texas late Friday," according to Pydynowski. "These thunderstorms then clashed over central Texas early Friday night before tracking into southern and eastern Texas overnight."
A dryline is essentially a dividing line between very dry air to the west and very moist air to the east and tends to be a hot spot for storms to develop.
One person was injured on Friday just before 2 p.m. CDT when a roof was blown off of a barn, debris striking a passing car, according to a preliminary report from the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center.
By 6:30 p.m. CDT, over 15,000 customers were experiencing power outages in Texas, according to PowerOutage.US.
Many cities from Oklahoma City to Dallas and even San Antonio and Austin, Texas, were in the path of these severe storms. The line of violent thunderstorms even reached Houston before daybreak Saturday.
By Saturday, the main weather threat for the Lone Star State will shift away from severe storms and focus on heavy rain.
A separate area of low pressure will develop over southeastern Texas on Saturday and ramp up flooding concerns over the area.
“Some vigorous jet stream energy emerging in central and southern portions of Texas this weekend will tap into rich moisture flowing in from the Gulf of Mexico. This will result in a few rounds of showers and thunderstorms, which will be capable of producing flash flooding,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Carl Babinski said.
Heavy rain and storms will sweep across southern and eastern Texas during the day Saturday and slowly spread north and east to reach portions of Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana to end the day.
A general 1-3 inches of rain is forecast to fall over the region over the course of 24-36 hours; this is a rather short period of time for the ground in these areas to handle heavy rainfall.
“Cumulative rainfall amounts of up to an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 6 inches will result in serious flooding problems,” Babinski said.
At this time, AccuWeather meteorologists are highlighting an area from College Station, Texas, through Houston and into Lake Charles, Louisiana, as the most likely area to experience significant rainfall and flash flooding issues on Saturday. Houston may even receive over half of its average rainfall for the entire month of May in a span of 24 hours.
The threat of flash flooding on Saturday will loom across portions of interstates 10, 20, 30 and 40. Those who must travel during Saturday's stormy weather will need to watch out for ponding on roadways, especially in poor drainage and low-lying areas, and should never drive through floodwaters.
Aside from the more immediate and visible impacts of Saturday's heavy rain, another more beneficial impact will arise: drought relief. Much of South Texas and areas along the Gulf coast up to Houston are currently experiencing abnormally dry conditions with portions of the area even under moderate to extreme drought according to the United States Drought Monitor.
While it is unlikely that drought conditions will be completely erased across the area as a result of this storm, every little bit helps in terms of easing the burden.
The threat of heavy rain will shift eastward into the lower Mississippi Valley as the storm weakens on Sunday. Sunday's rain could act to aggravate flooding concerns that occurred Thursday night over portions of Louisiana.
Following this wet weekend, a couple of days of drier weather are on the horizon for the south-central United States.
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