Massive storm to raise flood, severe weather risk on US Plains

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A very large, slow-moving storm will bring rounds of drenching rain and severe weather to the High Plains from this weekend into early next week.

Rainfall from 2 to 8 inches will extend along an approximate 1,000-mile swath from portions of Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.

"Many locations on the High Plains, which are a semi-arid portion of the nation, may have their entire average rainfall for April in less than a week," according to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams.

In some cases, from two to three month's worth of rain could fall. Areas from Amarillo, Texas, to Dodge City, Kansas, North Platte, Nebraska, and Rapid City, South Dakota, receive about 2 inches of rain on average during April.

The rain will raise the risk of flooding, particularly along small streams in recent burn areas. Water will collect on portions of roads that drain poorly.

On a positive note, the rain will greatly lower or mark an end to the spring brush fire season. The rain will not only dampen the dry brush but will also spark spring growth with more green versus dormant grass and shrubs in many areas.

However, prior to the drenching rain, the wildfire risk will be elevated due to strong winds and warmth into the start of the weekend.

The potential for thunderstorms with lightning strikes and severe weather will also increase in a month that has been unusually quiet for the Plains.

The greatest risk for severe weather on a regional basis will span Friday afternoon through Saturday evening and will extend from northeastern New Mexico and northwestern Texas to eastern Colorado and south-central Nebraska.

In addition to the potential for flash flooding, some of the strongest storms can produce large hail and damaging wind gusts. A few tornadoes cannot be ruled out.

"The worst day for potentially violent thunderstorms with a few strong tornadoes will be on Friday," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Becky Elliott.

During early next week, the corridor of heaviest rain and most concentrated threat of severe weather will drift slowly eastward and extend from portions of central and eastern Texas to parts of Iowa and eastern Nebraska.

However, drenching rain may linger over western Nebraska, southeastern Wyoming and Colorado, while additional downpours and spotty storms erupt farther south.

As parts of the Plains are hit with heavy rain and severe storms, heavy snow will pile up in the central Rockies and Wasatch Range. Up to a few feet of snow can fall over the highest elevations into early next week.