Flooding feared after storms sock south-central US

KATIE FRETLAND Associated Press Published:

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Residents and businesses from southeast Texas north through western Missouri were bracing for flooding Tuesday after a violent band of storms brought heavy rain, hail and at least one tornado, with more of the same forecast for the next several days.

The National Weather Service reported a tornado touched down Monday evening about 25 miles southwest of San Antonio, and parts of the city and surrounding areas were under a tornado warning. The San Antonio Express was reporting early Tuesday that several homes were damaged, trapping some people in mobile homes, but that no fatalities were reported.

Thousands of customers lost power in Dallas-Fort Worth, where strong winds and rain pelted the area. Flights were stopped temporarily Monday night at Love Field airport and delayed an average of almost three hours at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Power outages were also reported in Oklahoma City and in Tulsa County. Earlier Monday in Oklahoma City, firefighters responded to a call for a water rescue, but by the time they arrived, the people inside the stranded car had gotten out safely.

Flooding remains a serious concern across the affected areas.

The fresh crop of storms comes after two tornadoes damaged homes and railcars in North Platte, Neb., on Sunday. The EF3 twister with winds up to 165 mph injured four people.

Eight inches of rain was expected in southeastern Kansas, which has been unusually dry for nearly a year. The area has had less than three-fourths of the precipitation it typically gets since last April, state climatologist Mary Knapp said.

"We're looking at maybe a week of rain in that part of the state," she said. "That would be a very, very nice start to our spring season."

Emergency management officials said they're keeping an eye on the clouds but feel comfortable southeast Kansas can handle several days of rain.

In Arkansas, however, emergency management officials readied teams to respond to flash floods, especially in the western part of the state where the heaviest downpour was expected. The U.S. Forest Service closed campsites preemptively Monday, exercising caution after 20 people died in a flash flood at a remote campground in 2010.

"When rain falls in those terrain areas" -- especially the hills and valleys -- "it's quickly funneled into small rivers and streams," said B.J. Simpson, a National Weather Service meteorologist. "Those are the most dangerous areas."

Still, even flatlands could still see the potential for runoff and flash floods if the rain comes too fast for the ground to absorb it.

"There's really no amount of dry ground that can take up to 10 inches of rain in a couple day timeframe," Simpson said.

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Associated Press writers Bill Draper in Kansas City, Mo., Rochelle Hines in Oklahoma City, Nomaan Merchant in Dallas and Jeannie Nuss in Little Rock, Ark., contributed to this report.