Rain and thunderstorms will impact the Plains this week; just after a brief stoppage of the extreme storms. This will elevate the risk of flooding yet again for residents living in these states.
So what exactly is causing this sporadic and widespread system? According to a senior meteorologist with Accuweather, it will be due to a front that will stall from the west to the east from the Central Rockies, then to the Central Plains, before hitting the Midwest later this week. This front will act like a barrier; separating the warm and dry air to the north, and the hot and humid air to the south. This front will also act as an atmospheric highway of sorts, because it will cause repeating rounds of thunderstorms and showers.
Tropical moisture will also become a factor, and it will add to the instability of the thunderstorms and potential for excessive rainfall. Some of this moisture will be leftover from Blanca and will occur over the Southwest, but some of it will push through and make its way into the Plains and Midwest.
The first region that will experience thunderstorms will likely be the Rockies, but this system will then expand through the Central Plains on Wednesday and then continue on into the weekend. The areas that are expected to receive the most rain and should be alert for flooding are Nebraska, northern Kansas, southern Minnesota, and southwestern Wisconsin. That is not to say that other areas won’t flood out though – Wyoming, northern Minnesota, South Dakota, some areas in Michigan, the northern Texas Panhandle, northwestern Oklahoma, and Illinois may even see some localized flooding.
The elevated risk will really aim from central Missouri to Central Nebraska, as this is along the Missouri and North Platte rivers. There is still potential for localized rainfall of more than 6 inches in this cell through the middle of June in the pattern we see now.
It is important to be alert when flood watches are active in your area, because streams and rivers are already high from May’s excessive rain pattern which means that even a little bit of rain can do a lot of damage. This pattern may bring renewed flooding to some areas that have already been impacted, and cause flooding for the first time this year in others.
There will also be a flow of moist tropical air that will lead to more thunderstorms and showers in the central and eastern parts of Texas and the Southern Plains by the weekend. Some of these areas were hit with 1-2 feet of rain just during May. The return of moisture will only aggravate the flooding conditions in the South Central States. With tropical moisture, torrential downpours are very common. This means that Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana could see flooding conditions in the middle of the month. According to the National Climatic Data Center, May of 2015 has actually been the wettest month on record for the United States.
This report concluded that Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado all had a record wet May, which then resulted in widespread flooding. The drought footprint shrunk to 24.6 percent, which is the smallest coverage of drought across the nation since February 2011. The current statistics list that extreme drought is still holding on tightly to the West.