A major storm next week is poised to bring much needed rain, heavy snow and dangerous thunderstorms to the Plains.
The main storm will be preceded by a lesser system with spotty rain, snow and thunderstorms during late Sunday into Monday. However, the main event over the Plains will begin Monday night and Tuesday and will sprawl eastward as the week progresses.
Depending on how quickly cold air is utilized on the northern flank of the storm, there could be a swath of heavy snow from large areas of Colorado and Wyoming to parts of Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota.
Denver, Cheyenne, Wyo., and North Platte, Neb., are a few cities that could receive snow from the storm, depending on its track.
Enough snow could fall in some areas, combined with strong wind to lead to significant travel delays.
Farther south and east, in the storm's warm sector, a severe weather outbreak is bound to unfold.
There is a possibility of violent thunderstorms in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Louisiana.
While it is a bit too early to say with certainty the exact coverage, nature and timing of the thunderstorms, the risk includes the full spectrum of severe weather ranging from large hail and damaging wind gusts to flash flooding, frequent lightning strikes and even tornadoes.
In between the snow to the north and severe thunderstorms to the southeast, a zone of drenching rain is likely.
The exact swath of the heaviest rainfall, like the snow and severe weather area, will depend where and how the storm negotiates the high country of the West. However, states that could be receive some of the drenching rainfall include Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and South Dakota.
Part of this area could receive two inches of rain with the potential for much more.
According to Agricultural Weather Expert Dale Mohler, "The storm with its rain, snow and thunderstorms next week could bring some relief to a significant portion of severe and exceptional drought areas of the Plains."
Mohler cautioned that the storm's beneficial moisture will not reach all areas in need, citing that the northern Plains may miss out.
"It does appear that a rapid thaw accompanied by heavy rain will be avoided with this particular storm over the Red River Basin (of the North)," he said.
Concerns have been raised by officials for the deep snow pack over the region, which is lingering longer into the spring than usual, due to late-season cold weather.
The northern Plains will receive some moisture from moderate snow and rain from the preliminary storm Sunday into Monday.
The storm will first impact portions of the West late in the weekend and the start of next week with areas of high winds, blowing dust, thunderstorms with hail and areas of rain and heavy snow after moving inland from the Pacific Ocean.
More moisture will be pumped into the storm east of the Rockies as the system enters into a zone of great temperature contrast from south to north. At the same time, the storm will get extra energy from the jet stream, high velocity winds high above the ground.
Additional information, including graphics, will be released as more information is available.