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Risk for flooding downpours across Central states early next week

AccuWeather logo AccuWeather 8/13/2022

AccuWeather forecasters are on alert for a swath of excessive rainfall to spread throughout the Plains and Mississippi Valley in the upcoming days. Complexes of storms that are likely to develop along a slow-moving feature will bring the risk of torrential downpours for some across the central United States.

"A low pressure system brewing in the Plains will set the stage for heavy, flooding rainfall for portions of the central U.S. and Mississippi River Valley early this upcoming week," explained AccuWeather Meteorologist Adam Sadvary.

The feature of concern will emerge east of the Rocky Mountains by late weekend and gradually pull in moisture and energy from the north and west as it tracks over the Central states. Forecasters are monitoring for zones of organized thunderstorm activity that can erupt along and ahead of the storm's associated front.

"This system is poised to develop on the eastern side of a strong ridge located over the center of the United States. The ridge will allow storms to develop and nearly stall over a northwest-to-southeast portion of the country stretching from eastern Nebraska and southern Iowa, to northern Arkansas and far western Tennessee," stated Sadvary.

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The gradual movement of the storms from Monday to Wednesday will allow for a greater risk of flooding across portions of southern Missouri, northern Arkansas and western Tennessee. However, areas of Nebraska, Iowa, far eastern Kansas, western Illinois, western Kentucky and northwestern Mississippi will also face the threat of drenching thunderstorms during the first half of the week.

Clusters of thunderstorms that organize across the central Plains and Mississippi River Valley early week can be accompanied by gusty winds. Complexes of strong to locally severe thunderstorms along the front cannot be ruled out as energy plunges southeastward and taps into the moist Gulf Coast air.

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Cities that are at risk for downpours early this week are Springfield, Missouri, and Memphis, Tennessee. Although other metro areas that can receive rainfall amounts anywhere from 2 to 4 inches include St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, as well as Little Rock, Arkansas. Forecasters say that areas of the rural countryside of Missouri and the Ozarks will be the most likely areas to receive rainfall amounts upwards of 4 inches.

"While 2-4 inches of rain over a 48-hour span may not seem like much for most people, it can be enough rain to lead to rapidly rising water levels over very parched ground, especially if the bulk of this rain falls in the span of a few hours with one quick downpour," explained Sadvary.

As heavy rain spreads across the central Plains and Mississippi Valley, it may provide some relief for areas experiencing severe and extreme drought levels. While the upcoming rain event may prove beneficial for the soil moisture and parched summertime crops, disruptive impacts such as transportation delays, roadway flooding and elevated streams and rivers can accompany the storms.

Some parts of this region, such as St. Louis, and far western Kentucky, were hit hard with flooding rainfall just last week and may be more susceptible to flooding. However, in contrast, other areas could use the rain, pointed out Sadvary.

"Most of Arkansas and southern Missouri, is experiencing at least moderate drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor," noted Sadvary.

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Along the southern flank of this storm, hot and dry air will be present over portions of the southern Plains and the south-central U.S. Daytime temperatures between 100 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit are expected to grip Kansas, Oklahoma and northern Texas, early this week. The sweltering temperatures will likely hone in on parts of Oklahoma and northeastern Texas, by Tuesday and Wednesday.

Forecasters say that the clash of the two conflicting air masses will play a prominent role in sparking stronger storms along the boundary.

As the storm develops east of the Rockies later this weekend, residents across the Plains and Mississippi Valley should follow along with the most up-to-date AccuWeather forecast information.

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