Severe Thunderstorms and Drought-Helping Rain Headed For Southern Plains Through Saturday

Brian Donegan
Published: April 20, 2018

Some severe thunderstorms are possible through this weekend across parts of the South, while some sorely-needed rain will dampen the drought-suffering southern Plains.

A pronounced upper-level low pressure system, and associated surface frontal system, will swing into the South this weekend.


Current Radar, Watches and Warnings.

While that typically spells trouble for severe weather in late April, the relative lack of warm, humid air near the surface returning in the wake of a pronounced cold front earlier this week should keep this from being a widespread severe weather event.

(MORE: One Tornado-Prone State Hasn't Seen One Yet in 2018)

This is the forecast setup for possible severe thunderstorms Saturday.

Some of the thunderstorms may produce large hail and/or damaging winds, and we can't rule out the threat for tornadoes, we do not expect an outbreak of severe thunderstorms.

Below is our latest forecast on the timing and magnitude of the severe threats beginning Friday as well as an outlook for drought-helping rain.

(MORE: Severe Weather Central)

Severe Weather Forecast

Friday-Friday Night

  • Forecast: A few severe thunderstorms may fire up across the southern High Plains, from eastern New Mexico into parts of West Texas mainly during the late afternoon and early evening hours.
  • Threats: Large hail is the primary threat, though some damaging wind gusts are also possible. A quick spin-up tornado is possible. Dry thunderstorms may also spark fires. 
  • Cities: Lubbock, Texas | Midland/Odessa, Texas | Roswell, New Mexico


Friday's Forecast

Saturday-Saturday Night

  • Forecast: Scattered severe storms are possible from parts of north, central and east Texas and extreme southern Oklahoma into western Louisiana.
  • Threats: Damaging wind gusts, large hail and an isolated tornado or two are possible.
  • Cities: Dallas| San Antonio | HoustonAustin | Lake Charles, Louisiana


Saturday's Forecast

Sunday-Sunday Night

  • Forecast: A few severe t-storms are possible in the Deep South and near the northern Gulf Coast from southeast Louisiana into Mississippi, southern Alabama and the Florida panhandle.
  • Threats: Damaging wind gusts and an isolated tornado are possible.
  • Cities: New Orleans | Mobile | Tallahassee


Sunday's Forecast

Drought-Helping Rainfall

Another factor to consider from this system is the potential for some desperately-needed rain, possibly a soaker in spots, over the worsening drought in the southern High Plains.

Amarillo, Texas, could see its first rainfall event of a half inch or more since early October. Just a quarter inch of rain has fallen there since Oct. 14, 2017.


Rainfall Forecast Through Saturday

Other parts of parched western Oklahoma, southwest Kansas, northwest Texas and northeast New Mexico will see generally less than an inch of rain through Saturday.

This rain is only a drop in the bucket when it comes to drought recovery, but it should be a help to the extreme wildfire danger that has been in place of late.

Further east, heavier rain is expected over wetter soils. More than an inch of rain is anticipated this weekend from Arkansas and northern Louisiana into Mississippi, and this could lead to spotty flooding in this region due to heavy rainfall in recent weeks. 

Even heavier rainfall and spotty flooding are possible from eastern Alabama through northern and central Alabama and upstate South Carolina due to more than three inches of rain.  


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