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    Post-Christmas storm to slam central US with flooding, severe weather and snow

    By By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist.
    December 28, 2015, 6:32:03 AM EST

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    A major winter storm will cause travel disruptions and could threaten lives and property over the south-central United States during the days following Christmas.

    The storm will unfold on Saturday in the South Central states and span the rest of the weekend.

    Fresh snow blankets Omaha, Nebraska


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    The slow-moving storm will affect thousands of square miles of the nation from New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana to Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois.

    The storm will bring everything from heavy snow and blizzard conditions to ice, flooding rain and severe thunderstorms.

    JUMP TO: Blizzard conditions could shut down I-25, I-40 corridors | Ice may encase parts of southern and central Plains | Flooding risk from Texas to Illinois | Severe weather to threaten southern Plains, lower Mississippi Valley | Storm may bring first widespread snow, ice event to Northeast


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    Blizzard conditions could shut down I-25, I-40 corridors

    The storm will begin to consolidate over northern Mexico spanning Saturday and Saturday night. Areas of heavy snow will develop over New Mexico.

    As colder air invades the southern Rockies and part of the Plains, the storm will strengthen this weekend over western Texas.

    Winds and areal coverage of the snow will expand to parts of the central and southern Plains later Saturday into Monday.

    According to AccuWeather Assistant Director of Storm Warnings Andrew Gagnon, "The combination of heavy snow and strong winds will create blizzard conditions from eastern New Mexico to the Texas Panhandle and southwestern Kansas."


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    The blizzard conditions could bring travel to a halt along parts of highways I-25 and I-40 in the region.

    Some locations within the blizzard will receive more than a foot of snow.

    Ice may encase parts of southern and central Plains

    A shallow layer of cold air associated with the storm will result in a narrow swath of freezing rain and sleet from part of west-central Texas to central Oklahoma, eastern Kansas, southeastern Iowa to northern Illinois.

    Dangerous travel may unfold on parts of the I-35, I-40 and I-70 corridors. An extended period of ice is possible just west of Oklahoma City and could result in power outages.

    However, should the storm transition to more of a sleet and snow mix, the risk of a buildup of ice on trees and power lines would be lower.

    Flooding risk from Texas to Illinois

    A swath of heavy rain will develop over the southern Plains and extend northeastward toward the Midwest early next week.

    Rain will fall on multiple days in the swath from northeastern Texas to Illinois. Rainfall in this swath is likely to range from 3 to 6 inches with local amounts to approach 10 inches.


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    The rain will be enough to cause widespread flash and urban flooding. Motorists are reminded to never drive through a flooded road to avoid facing a potentially deadly situation.

    The area most at risk for major and life-threatening flooding stretches from along the border of Oklahoma and Arkansas to central Missouri. Residents should prepare for possible evacuations, roads to become impassible and bridges to become washed out.

    RELATED:
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    January to yield winter's first outbreak of icy air in eastern, central US

    Some rivers, including the Arkansas River, are expected to swell to major flood stage.

    National Weather Service hydrologists anticipate that the Arkansas River at the Ozark-Jetta Taylor Lock and Dam will rise to "the highest stage experienced since the completion of the navigation system in 1969."

    Severe weather to threaten southern Plains, lower Mississippi Valley

    With such a dynamic storm forecast to develop, combined with lingering warmth to the southeast and colder air building to the northwest, an outbreak of severe weather is possible.

    The potential for severe thunderstorms will initiate over parts of central Texas to northwestern Arkansas as early as Saturday.


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    The threat will shift eastward to eastern Texas and the lower Mississippi Valley Sunday into Sunday night.

    The risk of the storms is likely to include damaging wind gusts, flooding downpours and a few tornadoes.

    The severe weather threat will then shift to places from Kentucky to the central Gulf Coast on Monday as the wintry side of the storm takes aim at the Midwest before moving into the Northeast.

    The exact path the storm takes will determine exactly where the different zones of heavy precipitation will set up.

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