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Next round of rain, storms to grace drought-stricken southern Plains at midweek

AccuWeather logo AccuWeather 4/24/2018 Kyle Elliott

A firetruck that was destroyed by the Rhea fire is seen near Taloga, Oklahoma, U.S. April 17, 2018 © Nick Oxford/Reuters A firetruck that was destroyed by the Rhea fire is seen near Taloga, Oklahoma, U.S. April 17, 2018

Following beneficial rain last Friday and Saturday, parts of the southern Plains still suffering from extreme to exceptional drought will receive more help from Mother Nature at midweek.

The lack of rainfall during the fall and winter months allowed drought to expand rapidly and reach troublesome levels, according to the United States Drought Monitor.

Some moisture drawn northward from the Gulf of Mexico will interact with a storm system diving southeastward out of the northern Rockies to spark showers and a few heavier thunderstorms into Wednesday.

"There is the potential for locally strong thunderstorms in parts of Oklahoma and southern Kansas on Wednesday afternoon and evening," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. "The greatest threat from these storms may be spotty hail, rather than tornadoes."

Although the hail threatens to damage tender vegetation and exposed vehicles, the benefits from this week's rain will be far-reaching.

In the past two weeks, several wildfires sprung up in Oklahoma and have since burned hundreds of thousands of acres across the state.

The rain from this past Friday and Saturday allowed fire personnel to get an upper hand on the blazes and bring them close to containment.

This next round of rain will provide further aid to firefighting efforts and should help fully extinguish the fires.

In addition, the freshly dampened ground will make it harder for new wildfires to spring up in the weeks ahead.

Parched vegetation and brush will continue to green-up.

Rainfall from this system has the potential to double this month's current totals, many of which have come solely from this past Saturday's storm.

Rain will first impact portions of Nebraska and western Kansas on Tuesday before spreading into western Oklahoma and the northern Texas Panhandle Tuesday night. Damp conditions are then on tap for eastern and southern Kansas, as well as much of Oklahoma and west-central Texas, on Wednesday.

Most places can expect to receive 0.50 to 1 inch of rain from this system, although eastern parts of New Mexico and far western Texas may only receive half of these amounts.

Another weak system may bring additional showers to the southern Plains from Thursday afternoon into Friday morning, but rainfall from this system should be more sporadic and much lighter.

"Residents should not get their hopes up that the drought or wildfire risk will be eliminated in the coming weeks and months," AccuWeather Meteorologist Renee Duff said.

AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok anticipates that a very hot and dry summer is in store from eastern Colorado and New Mexico to western Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

"With a long, hot summer expected, residents will need to remain up to date with the latest fire weather advisories, heed all instructions from local officials should a fire ignite and avoid all activities that can spark a fire, such as improperly discarding cigarettes and using open flames," Duff warned.

Behind Friday's system, the next chance for rain will likely not arrive until the first few days of May. However, the possibility of a severe weather outbreak will increase next week, with damaging winds, large hail and tornadoes all potential threats to lives and property.


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