May 14, 2021

A Wet And Stormy Pattern Will Drench The Plains Through Next Week


Bouts of heavy rain and a low-grade threat for severe thunderstorms will cover the southern and central Plains through next week. Some areas in Texas and Oklahoma could see more than five inches of rain from the upcoming stormy pattern, which could cause flooding issues if storms persist over the same areas.

Much of the United States has enjoyed a pretty subdued weather pattern compared to how things usually go in May, which is great for storm-weary areas and a little much for those whose gardens could use a break from the cold weather. This past Thursday, Charlotte, North Carolina, saw one of its latest sub-40°F low temperatures on record this late into the season. That's an impressive chill!

As the upper-level trough that brought the eastern states their late-season coolness moves out into the Atlantic, temperatures will climb closer to average and spring-like humidity will begin to slowly fill out across the country.

This weekend will see a "split" jet stream, with one branch arching into northern Canada while the other swoops south into Mexico, leaving most of the United States with relatively calm conditions aloft. This calmness will allow smaller, more subtle features dictate the weather.


Decent instability over the Plains should allow showers and thunderstorms to develop across the region over the next couple of days. The Storm Prediction Center paints a marginal to slight (1-2 out of 5) risk for severe weather over pretty much the same areas each day through Sunday, with Cheyenne, Denver, Amarillo, and much of Kansas at risk for thunderstorms that could produce damaging winds, large hail, and a couple of tornadoes.

An upper-level trough will move over the West Coast this weekend, prompting the risk for thunderstorms in California on Saturday and Sunday. Thunder and heavy rain are even possible in some spots high in the Sierras. 

That trough will kick off a low-pressure system on the eastern side of the Rockies on Monday and Tuesday, laying the groundwork for heavy rain to fall in earnest over the southern Plains. Tuesday through Thursday looks to be the best bet for folks in northern Texas and southern Oklahoma to see several inches of rain. Some communities could see flash flooding if the rain falls too quickly.

It's worth pointing this out any time there's a risk for flash flooding—please remember that you can't tell how deep the water is until it's too late. Water is deceiving and drivers are notoriously bad at underestimating the depth of floodwaters covering the road ahead of them. Plan out alternate routes ahead of time so you know multiple ways to get around if one road is cut off by high waters.

(This post was originally published at 8:30 PM EDT on May 14, 2021. A technical glitch on Google's part removed the post from the site for a day before it was restored.)


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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I ran Gawker's The Vane for two years and I've contributed to Mental Floss, Forbes, Popular Science, and the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang. I also teamed up with Outdoor Life to write a book called The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, which came out in October 2015.

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