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Severe weather, flooding downpours to keep pounding the Plains this Memorial Day weekend

By Kristina Pydynowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
May 26, 2019, 7:09:32 AM EDT


The corridor from western Texas to northern Missouri and Iowa will remain in the midst of a seemingly endless risk for severe weather and flooding downpours this Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Severe thunderstorms and downpours increased late Friday and continued through the night, with numerous reports of flash flooding, water rescues and road closures from central Oklahoma through northern Missouri.


In addition to the flooding, several tornadoes were reported from southeast Kansas to central Illinois and eastern Iowa as the week came to a close.

On Saturday night, a tornado caused extensive damage in El Reno, Oklahoma. This was the second tornado to impact the city in 6 years.

There will be little time for storm cleanup as another bout of severe thunderstorms ignites from western Texas to Nebraska and South Dakota on Sunday afternoon and evening. Similar to Saturday, all modes of severe weather, including tornadoes, are anticipated.

Sun storms central US


Download the free AccuWeather app to stay alert to severe weather watches and warnings. Keep checking back for updates on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.

The worst of the severe weather is expected to remain to the west of the hard-hit communities of Jefferson City and Golden City, Missouri. However, some rain and thunderstorms can dampen these cities at times into Sunday, disrupting cleanup operations.

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Flooding downpours and severe thunderstorms can then spread into northwestern Missouri, Iowa and southern Minnesota overnight on Sunday.

(Facebook photo/ Town of Webbers Falls via Eric Thompson)

Rescue teams were deployed due to the flooding in Webbers Falls, a small town in southeastern Muskogee County, Oklahoma on Sunday, May 26.

(Facebook photo/ Town of Webbers Falls)

Photos capture the flooding in Webbers Falls, a small town in southeastern Muskogee County, Oklahoma on Sunday, May 26.

(Facebook photo/ Town of Webbers Falls)

Photos capture the flooding in Webbers Falls, a small town in southeastern Muskogee County, Oklahoma on Sunday, May 26.

(Facebook photo/ Town of Webbers Falls)

Photos capture the flooding in Webbers Falls, a small town in southeastern Muskogee County, Oklahoma on Sunday, May 26.

(Facebook photo/ Town of Webbers Falls)

Photos capture the flooding in Webbers Falls, a small town in southeastern Muskogee County, Oklahoma on Sunday, May 26.

(Facebook photo/ Town of Webbers Falls)

Photos capture the flooding in Webbers Falls, a small town in southeastern Muskogee County, Oklahoma on Sunday, May 26.

(Facebook photo/ Town of Webbers Falls via Eric Thompson)

Rescue teams were deployed due to the flooding in Webbers Falls, a small town in southeastern Muskogee County, Oklahoma on Sunday, May 26.

(AP Photo/David A. Lieb)

A pickup truck evacuates from an area in north Jefferson City Missouri as floodwaters from the Missouri River rise over the road on Friday, May 24, 2019.

(Twitter/@gtbynum)

As of May 24, 2019, the Army Corpse of Engineers is releasing 250,000 cubic feet of water per second from the Keystone Dam.

(Twitter/@usacetulsa)

A bird picks up a meal from the flooding Arkansas River on Friday, May 24, 2019.

(Twitter/@ChristiesPics)

The flooding occurring at Harry S. Truman Dam grew worse after the storm blew through on Wednesday, May 22, 2019.

(Twitter/@TCSO)

The floodwaters in Leonard, Oklahoma have nearly reached the bottom of this speed limit sign on May 24, 2019.

(Twitter/@TCSO)

Floodwaters have crept up to the homes of residents of Leonard, Oklahoma on May 24, 2019.

(Twitter/@TCSO)

Residents in Leonard, Oklahoma found floodwaters at their doorsteps by May 24, 2019 after days of heavy rainfall and violent storms.

(Twitter/@TCSO)

Floodwaters nearly reach the top of cars in Leonard, Oklahoma by May 24, 2019.

(Twitter/@gtbynum)

The River Spirit Casino in Oklahoma will be closed for several weeks until the floodwaters recede.

(Twitter/@gtbynum)

Looking out from the River Spirit Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the flood waters have nearly overtaken the casino. Due to this, the casino will remain closed for a few weeks.

(Twitter/@USNationalGuard)

Oklahoma National Guard few over flooded areas of Oklahoma to get a bird's-eye view of the damage on May 22, 2019.

(Twitter/@USNationalGuard)

An aerial view of the flood damage in Oklahoma on May 22, 2019.

(Twitter/@Bill25689Bj)

Flooding impacted not just Oklahoma but reached up into Kansas as well by May 24, 2019, threatening to flood roads.


Even in communities that escape damage from wind, hail or tornadoes, dangers to lives and property will still exist.

"Heavy rain and downpours from the rounds of severe weather will exacerbate the ongoing flooding which is occurring across large swaths of the Plains," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said.

Adding what falls this weekend to totals from this recent week, there can be an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 12 inches from north-central Oklahoma to eastern Kansas and western Missouri.

While the severe weather dangers will be greatest each afternoon and evening, the flood risk can last longer through the night and into the following morning.

Flood risk


A quick 1-2 inches of rain will easily trigger flash flooding in poor drainage and urban areas. Already swollen streams can surge back out of their banks with additional rises on larger rivers.

Residents living along waterways and in flood-prone areas should remain vigilant for additional evacuations. Officials may be forced to close more roads and bridges. Never drive through a flooded road.

Moderate to major river flooding is ongoing from northeastern Oklahoma and eastern Kansas to Missouri and Illinois. Wagoner County Emergency Management issued a voluntary evacuation notice for low-lying areas near the Arkansas and Verdigris rivers on Friday.

National Weather Service hydrologists warned of a dangerous and life-threatening situation as the Arkansas River near Ponca City, Oklahoma, soared above its previous record crest of 21.1 feet on Friday.

Mon severe


The river at Van Buren, Arkansas, is expected to rise above the record of 38.10 feet from April 1945 early this week.

Most of the downpours this holiday weekend will bypass Van Buren and Arkansas, but the river will keep rising as flood waters drain downstream.

Looking ahead to Memorial Day, an isolated severe thunderstorm erupting from western Texas to southwestern Kansas cannot be ruled out late in the day. Otherwise, most of the South Central states will welcome much-needed dry weather as rain and severe thunderstorms focus on the central Plains and western Great Lakes.

The severe weather risk may expand back southward on Tuesday.

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