Fox News Weather Center

Memorial Day Forecast: Storms to Slash Plains Drought

While many areas in the East and the West will be free of rain this Memorial Day, repeating storms will bring flash flooding and will begin to break the drought in parts of Texas and the Plains.

The sun will shine on much of the Midwest, the mid-Atlantic, California and the Great Basin, as well as portions of the central Gulf coast on Memorial Day. Many of these areas will experience near-to-above-average warmth.

Spotty showers and thunderstorms will affect the Southeastern states in what otherwise be a warm day with clouds and sunshine. Cities in the Southeast that may be affected by a pop-up thunderstorm include Atlanta, Orlando, Florida, and Nashville, Tennessee.

People in both northern corners of the nation will have to wait out and dodge showers on Monday with unsettled conditions for part of New England and the Northwest. Both areas will be near the edge of building warmth to the south and cool conditions to the north. Cities that may be impacted by wet weather include Seattle and Boston.

By far, the most unsettled zone of the nation will be centered on the Plains. Showers and thunderstorms will repeat in this zone during much of the Memorial Day weekend. Plenty of moisture will be funneled northward from Mexico and across the south-central part of the United States.

The downpours will affect the cities of Dallas, Denver, Oklahoma City, and Kansas City, Missouri. The rain can slow travel in the I-20, I-35, I-40 and I-70 corridors.

While the rainfall will delay and even totally foil some outdoor activities, the rain will have a double-edged sword.

The training effect of the rainfall will raise the risk of flash and urban flooding from portions of west and central Texas and eastern New Mexico to eastern Colorado, portions of Oklahoma, much of Kansas and Nebraska.

However, beyond the problems for outdoor activities, the usual risk flash flooding brings, and the potential for locally severe thunderstorms, the rainfall will bring great benefit to the region by hacking away at drought conditions.

Much of this area has experienced building drought since the middle of 2013. The drought reached exceptional proportions this spring and caused water supplies to shrivel. In addition to the strain on communities, the drought has had serious impact on agriculture in the region.

As of Thursday, May 22, 2014, Gage, Oklahoma, has received less than 4 inches of rain since the start of September 2013, which is less than one-third of their normal rainfall.

The wet weather pattern will continue into the middle of next week and is likely to mark the beginning of the end of the drought for many areas.

Already on Thursday, Amarillo, Texas, received its biggest single-day rainfall since Feb. 25, 2013, with 1.42 inches falling. On Feb. 25, 1.48 inches of rain fell.

Many areas over the southern and central High Plains have the potential to double their rainfall since last summer with local amounts of 3 to 6 inches into the middle of next week.

According to AccuWeather Long-Range Expert Paul Pastelok, "We expect additional rain from the summer monsoon to kick in over much of this region during the first part of the summer and should go a long way to further dent the drought in the region."

It will take considerable time in many cases to bring water levels back to normal but this is a great step in the right direction.

The rain will slice east of water-needy areas of western New Mexico and Arizona and will essentially miss California and Nevada.