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Month's worth of rain deluges central US; May boost wheat production

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A massive storm will push a month's worth of rain or more slowly eastward across the United States Plains in the coming days.

The storm will bring the risk of flooding but will also have some benefits for the region.

Heavy rain and the potential for flash flooding will occur along an approximate 1,000-mile swath from Texas to the Dakotas.

Within this swath, rainfall of 2 to 8 inches will occur.

"The High Plains are a semi-arid part of the nation," according to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams.

Rainfall over many parts of the High Plains averages about 2 inches for April.

Portions of western Nebraska had already received between 2 and 4 inches of rain as of daybreak Saturday with more on the way.

As of 7:00 a.m. CDT Saturday, the storm had thus far delivered 4.25 inches of rain near Parks, Nebraska, with 2.16 inches falling on Imperial, Nebraska. Garden City, Kansas, had received 1.44 inches with 1.60 inches falling on Philip, South Dakota.

With a month or more rainfall occurring in a matter of days and hours, flash and urban flooding are likely, Abrams stated.

The risk of flooding will be greatest, but not limited to recent burn areas. Large portions of the High Plains were scorched by wildfires in recent weeks due to dry, warm and windy conditions.

By Monday, the heavy rain and the threat for flash and urban flooding will shift farther east.

Areas from central South Dakota to the eastern parts of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, as well as western portions of Iowa, Missouri and Arkansas will bear the brunt of the rain.

Rainfall will be less extreme relative to monthly averages farther east over the lower elevations of the Plains. However, urban flooding and travel delays can occur in these more densely populated areas.

Another aspect of the storm will continue to be severe weather.

The storm system spawned dozens of incidents of large hail and a handful of tornadoes on Friday evening.

The threat of severe weather will shift southeastward into early next week.

By Monday afternoon, the threat of storms with damaging winds and large hail will generally be restricted to central and southern Texas.

Where soaking rain falls, it will mark an end to the wildfire threat for the spring season.

On another positive note, the rainfall will soak winter wheat areas.

"Winter wheat is at various stages of development with heading occurring in southern areas," according to AccuWeather Agricultural Meteorologist Dale Mohler. "Short of flooding, this rain will make the crop for these areas as wheat needs only a small amount of moisture to mature."

The rainfall will provide needed moisture for livestock grazing on pastureland.

The storm will also help to recharge the Ogallala Aquifer, which extends from the South Dakota/Nebraska border to the New Mexico/Texas border.

Portions of the High Plains were in moderate to severe drought prior to the mid-April storm.

Dodge City, Kansas, had received only 1.12 inches of rain spanning Jan. 1 to April 15, 2016. The average rainfall for the period is 3.72 inches. In about eight hours on Saturday, Dodge City had received nearly 3.50 inches of rain from the storm.