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Repeated downpours, severe storms to inundate central US

By
Courtney Travis, Accuweather.com

May 16 (UPI) -- AccuWeather meteorologists say another round of severe weather and flooding will develop in the United States in the middle of May, but this time, threats will be focused on the center of the country, rather than the Southeast, an area that has been pummeled by round after round of soaking rain on top of episodes of severe weather.

"A series of weak disturbances are expected to track eastward from the Rockies and into the Plains through the weekend," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said.

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On Friday, the severe weather kicked off across the region, bringing in strong wind and hail reports across Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas.

According to The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center, hail across the states reached the sizes of tennis balls and in some cases the size of softballs. Hail reaching two inches in size cracked the windshield of a trained spotter.

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Wind gusts that reached 70 mph were reported in Oldham County and Hutchinson County, Texas. Around 12:00 a.m. Saturday, the NWS in Amarillo, Texas, reported that the thunderstorms were winding down in the area, but strong winds and hail could still linger but were not expected.

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Throughout the day on Saturday, wind gusts surpassing 60 mph and some hail were reported in Texas and New Mexico. Golf ball-sized hail was reported in southwestern Texas, and damaging winds were reported in Texas, Kansas and New Mexico.

On Sunday, a stronger storm is expected to push into a very similar area, sparking severe thunderstorms.

These storms will be capable of producing hail and strong wind gusts that could potentially reach an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 80 mph.

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Residents in cities such as Dodge City, Kan., to Amarillo and San Angelo, Texas, should be on alert for any rapidly developing severe thunderstorms. Motorists along Interstates 20 and 40 should also remain vigilant, as heavy downpours could not only lead to ponding on the roads but also result in rapidly reduced visibility.

As the weekend comes to a close, a dip in the jet stream will usher several more storms into the region, allowing wet weather to repeatedly hit the region through the early part of this week. The unrelenting nature of the downpours will increase dangers across the South Central states.

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"The combination of warm and increasingly humid conditions pushing into the southern Plains will extend the potential for flash flooding through Wednesday night, especially where heavy downpours repeatedly move over the same areas," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Nicole LoBiondo.

An AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 12 inches of rainfall is possible in areas impacted by several rounds of rain through early this week.

It is also not out of the question that a round or two of thunderstorms could turn severe in the area this week. This includes Monday, where some thunderstorms in a very similar area from eastern Colorado to central Texas, could again produce damaging winds and hail.

At the midway point of May, severe weather had already been more prolific this month than during all of April. There were just 73 tornadoes reported across the United States in April, well short of the three-year average for the month of 224, according to the Storm Prediction Center. May has already produced more than 110 preliminary tornado reports.

Violent thunderstorms ravaged portions of southern Louisiana late Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning, knocking down trees and power lines across much of the uptown portion of New Orleans. The National Weather Service confirmed that a EF0 tornado with estimated peak winds of 85 mph caused the damage. Farther west, flooding downpours and high winds wreaked havoc on eastern Texas where a wind gust of 48 mph was recorded in Huntsville, Texas, located about 70 miles north of Houston.

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