“It’s dry. Very dry. Oh, God, it’s too dry. It’s raining! Rain! More rain? Ahh, tornado! Whew, back to rain. Too much rain! Make it stop! Ah, sun.” Thus continues the dramatic play that’s been the weather over the central United States for the past few months, with many more inches of rain on the way over the next seven days.
Last month, the south-central part of the country (mostly focused around Texas and Oklahoma) were plagued with a conga line of stalled supercells that produced incredible amounts of rain in short order. Some locations—like Dallas-Fort Worth Airport in Texas and the towns of Lawton and Ardmore up in Oklahoma—have never before recorded this much rain through June 10, and just about everyone is above average and out of their years-long drought (for now, anyway).
This messy map below shows observed precipitation over the past 60 days, showing a bullseye of heavy rainfall targeting Texas, Oklahoma, and western parts of Arkansas, with heavy rain tapering off farther away from the region like a ripple in the floodwaters.
The rain and flooding was so extreme that the tornado shelters people installed in their yards and garages around Oklahoma City started popping out of the ground from the force of the water beneath—a result of poor installation, but striking imagery nonetheless. In a separate incident, Houston’s suburbs saw ten inches of rain one night, creating apocalyptic scenes that stranded dozens (if not hundreds) of people who didn’t have a chance to escape the rising waters.
Thankfully for the waterlogged among us, the heavy rain should fall a bit farther north this time around, dousing communities from the Texas Panhandle straight through eastern Canada with several inches of rain through the middle of next week. The Weather Prediction Center expects a range of three or more inches of rain over a good chunk of the heart of the country, with greater totals in the strongest thunderstorms. If you’re in the area and take a look at your local forecast, there’s a decent (50% or greater) chance of thunderstorms every day for the entire length of the forecast.
Even though almost all of Texas and Oklahoma are no longer in drought, there are pockets of unusual dryness scattered throughout the Plains and Midwest; many of the areas slipping into drought, such as northeastern Nebraska and southeastern South Dakota, should begin to feel some relief if the predictions pan out.
Flash flood watches are already in place across some portions of the northern Plains and Midwest in anticipation of the heavy rainfall, with widespread flash flood watches in effect across the Rockies thanks to above-average tropical moisture pumping into the region thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Blanca. These watches will likely be expanded as we creep closer to the weekend—the latest flash flood guidance indicates that it would only take 1.50-2.50 inches of rain in a three-hour period to produce flash flooding for a stretch of land from Kansas through Wisconsin, so the anticipated storms could (and probably will) cause some flooding.