Aug. 21 (UPI) — Much of the southern Plains, including Texas and Oklahoma, have endured extreme drought conditions this summer. AccuWeather meteorologists say a change in the weather pattern could bring rain to parched areas starting on Sunday, but it also could bring the risk of flooding.
The Dallas Fort-Worth metroplex, among many other areas, is expected to be in the crossroads of heavier downpours this week.
Since June 5, Dallas-Love Field Airport has recorded only 0.20 of an inch of rainfall. All of this rain came on or after Aug. 10, leaving the city with more than two months of no measurable rainfall. This minuscule amount of rainfall is only 3% of the average 6.03 inches of rain that the city normally receives during that time.
As the new week begins, the threat of heavier rain will shift into the south-central United States.
“A southward dip in the jet stream across the central U.S. will help to funnel moisture into parts of Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana,” said AccuWeather Meteorologist Renee Duff. Unlike in recent days and weeks, that moisture will be plentiful, and come from multiple sources.
After pummeling the Southwest with repeated rounds of showers and thunderstorms, moisture from the North American monsoon will drift into the southern Plains. Meanwhile, a tropical system will lift northward out of the Gulf of Mexico, helping to allow for even heavier rain.
While the system never became a tropical storm as had once been possible, and impacts in South Texas remained limited, the flooding issues it may bring to Oklahoma and Texas will be unchanged as it lifts northward.
The heaviest and most widespread rainfall is expected to occur through Monday along the Red River to the Interstate 20 corridor, before shifting to the south and east towards the I-10 corridor Tuesday and Wednesday.
“The rounds of rain, through the middle of the week, are expected to bring widespread amounts of 2-4 inches from northwestern Texas into central Mississippi,” Duff said.
Areas along the Oklahoma-Texas border and into northern Texas are likely to receive even more rainfall, on the order of 4-8 inches, with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 14 inches possible.
Low-lying and poor drainage areas will likely be the first to experience flooding following a heavier downpour. However, the enduring drought across the area means that more extensive flooding is possible, as the ground may will be slow to soak in any water.
Over 60% of the state of Texas is under an extreme or exceptional drought according to the latest update from the U.S. Drought Monitor, while over 85% is in at least a severe drought.
The above image shows the state of the drought across the south-central United States, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor update on Aug. 18.
Meanwhile, 90% of Oklahoma is experiencing severe or worse drought conditions.
Cities such as Oklahoma City and San Antonio will be on the periphery of the most persistent rainfall. Both have also had a dry summer and are experiencing extreme or exceptional drought conditions. Both cities have had less than a third of an inch of rainfall so far in August.
The rainfall that is expected to hit these areas in the coming week, in the long term, will help to make a dent in the persistent drought. However, the excessive dry ground will have trouble absorbing the rain in the short term, leading to more expansive flooding.
Rapidly rising water could cover roadways or even wash them out, making routes impassible, experts say. Drivers traveling at high speeds should also be careful to avoid hydroplaning on standing water.
“In order to stay safe, residents should have a way, such as the AccuWeather App, to receive the latest watches and warnings in their area,” Duff said.
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