Downpours to ease drought, raise risk of flash flooding from Texas to Iowa

Drenching downpours and locally gusty thunderstorms will erupt over parts of the southern and central Plains through Thursday.

Rainfall from the storms will be significant enough to ease dryness and short-term drought conditions but could fall at so fast of a rate to cause minor flash and urban flooding.

"Into Wednesday night, the heaviest rain will extend from central Kansas to northern and central Oklahoma, the northern Texas Panhandle and adjacent New Mexico," according to AccuWeather Lead Storm Warning Meteorologist Eddie Walker.

The commute along Interstate 35 between Oklahoma City and Wichita, Kansas, will be slow at times due to excess water on the road and poor visibility. Similar conditions are likely along portions of I-40 in Oklahoma and Texas and I-135 in Kansas.

"On Thursday and into Thursday night, the heaviest rain will extend from northeastern Kansas to central Iowa," Walker said.

In terms of severe weather, a few storms can become severe at the local level in parts of northwestern Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas on Friday afternoon and evening.

People should be prepared for travel delays around Topeka, Kansas, Kansas City, Missouri, and Des Moines, Iowa, or essentially along I-35 in this zone.

"A general 2-4 inches is likely in the swath from northwestern Illinois and Iowa to central Kansas and Oklahoma," Walker said. "However, locally higher amounts are likely."

The rainfall will impact agriculture in the region.

"On one hand, the rain will slow the corn harvest in some areas and the planting of winter wheat in others," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls.

"On the other hand, the rain will also help to put some moisture back into the ground, even if it falls at a fast pace."

Winter wheat needs to sprout rapidly and develop deep roots to survive the cold weather in the months ahead.

The area being affected by the downpours has received between 10 and 80 percent of normal rainfall since Sept. 1.

As cooler air advances to the east, it will help to pull up a tropical system currently brewing near Central America.

This press of cool air and tropical moisture will drench much of the eastern third of the nation later this weekend into early next week.