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Late-week storm to soak central US, heighten severe weather risk

By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
March 30, 2019, 3:54:45 AM EDT

A storm will bring unwelcome rain and the threat of locally severe thunderstorms to portions of the central United States through the end of the week.

Travel disruptions are likely with this storm, with the potential for flooded and closed roads in some communities.

Rainfall can be steady across central and southern areas of the Plains and Mississippi Valley, aggravating the flooding situation in this region, according to AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.

Rounds of rain can produce a swath of 1-3 inches from eastern portions of Nebraska and Kansas to Illinois, Indiana and Ohio into Saturday.

Rain Into Saturday

Areas that get hit repeatedly can receive an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 4 inches.

Traffic along stretches of interstates 44, 55, 65, 69 and 70 can be slower than normal at times as the downpours and blowing spray from other vehicles reduce visibility.

Airline delays can occur in Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri, and perhaps into Chicago.

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"Because of this storm, water levels are likely to fluctuate significantly in the short term along small streams and to a lesser degree from several days to a week or more later downstream on the larger rivers," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

Flooding ranging from minor to major is occurring along the Big Sioux, James, Minnesota, Missouri and Mississippi rivers.

"While these fluctuations may be relatively minor and on the order of several feet along the major rivers, they are likely to prolong the overall flooding disaster that continues to unfold," Sosnowski added.

In addition to the concerns of aggravated flooding, there is the potential for heavy to locally severe thunderstorms to rumble through parts of the region.

Where the storms repeat, urban and small stream flooding are likely.

Such conditions occurred in Jefferson County, Nebraska during Thursday midday, where many county roads were taking on water.

"Thunderstorms can be strong across parts of the south-central Plains to the middle to lower Mississippi Valley between Friday and Saturday," Pastelok said.

Severe X

During Friday night, the greatest risk of severe weather may focus on central and eastern Oklahoma, eastern Kansas, western Missouri and northwestern Arkansas.

During the first part of the weekend, a portion of the lower Mississippi Valley could be rocked by locally damaging storms.

The strongest storms on both of these days can produce large hail, damaging winds and flash flooding. In addition, an isolated tornado or two cannot be ruled out.

Weekend outlook

Download the free AccuWeather app to see the latest flood advisories and severe weather alerts for your area.

This same storm will whiten a portion of the Rockies and northern Plains with a heavy spring snowfall.

As the storm spreads into the Northeast and along the Gulf coast on Sunday, drier but much chillier weather is on tap for most of the Central states on the final day of March.

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