Forecaster warns of flooding during Memorial Day weekend

AP News
Posted: May 22, 2015 2:28 PM
Forecaster warns of flooding during Memorial Day weekend

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — There is a chance for severe weather including heavy rainfall during the Memorial Day weekend that seems likely to cause flash flooding in parts of Texas, Arkansas and the southern Plains, the National Weather Service said Friday.

Meteorologist John Hart at the weather service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, said the risk Friday is mostly confined to southwestern Texas and eastern New Mexico, where hail, thunderstorms and even a tornado could be possible overnight.

Hart warned of flash flooding during the holiday weekend in North Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, which are still soaked from recent storms.

A forecaster in Norman said about 0.6 more inches of rain in May will break Oklahoma City's record for the wettest month ever recorded.

Weather service forecaster Matt Stalley in Fort Worth, Texas, said people camping or on the waterways should take extra care.

"There's quite a bit of danger now with the current situation. There's a lot of river and lake closures because of all the debris that's in the water that gets picked up by these floodwaters. There's additional threats for flash flooding for people that are out camping," Stalley said.

Stalley said the area west of the Interstate 35 corridor is expected to receive the heaviest rainfall amounts.

"We're looking at storms that will produce heavy rain starting to increase in coverage on Saturday afternoon and evening. And that'll last through a good portion of Sunday as well," Stalley said.

Tabitha Clarke with the weather service in Little Rock said the heaviest rain in Arkansas is expected Saturday afternoon and night.

"That's the worrisome part - when people are already settled into their camping or whatever they are doing," Clarke said. "Rainfall amounts will likely not be as impressive as other events we've had, but because we are already saturated, that's why the flooding will occur, and when the rainfall gets here, it will likely be very intense in a short amount of time."

The area of most concern is along the Red River in southwestern Arkansas, where 3 to 5 inches of rain is expected.

Stalley, in Texas, encouraged anyone with plans to be outdoors during the weekend to have a way to get weather information, such as a weather radio.

"A lot of people overlook flooding as a weather threat, and it's actually the No. 1 leader in weather-related fatalities. So, it certainly can't be taken lightly."