By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
April 21,2017, 9:01:51PM,EDT
Dangerous thunderstorms and flash flooding will focus on portions of Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas through Friday night."While a major outbreak appears unlikely, the full spectrum of severe weather can occur with the storms ranging from large hail and damaging wind gusts to flooding downpours, frequent lightning strikes and a few tornadoes," according to AccuWeather Lead Storm Warning Meteorologist Eddie Walker.
The severe weather event began as a complex of drenching severe thunderstorms in portions of northwestern Texas and western Oklahoma during Thursday night.
Storms packing high winds, flooding downpours and hail rolled through Oklahoma City during Friday morning.
A tornado was confirmed just south of Gainesville, Texas at 7:21 p.m. CDT Friday by a National Weather Service trained spotter. The tornado was rain-wrapped, making it hard to see. This thunderstorm also produced hail larger than golf balls.
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Cities at risk for severe weather include Wichita Falls, Dallas and Paris, Texas; Texarkana and Pine Bluff, Arkansas; and Greenville, Mississippi. As the storms approach the major airports, airline delays will mount.
Farther to the east, portions of Tennessee can expect thunderstorms to be locally heavy and gusty into Friday night. A small number of the storms can produce damaging wind gusts and hail.
"Farther north, there will be an elevated risk for flash flooding across southeastern Kansas, northeastern Oklahoma, southern Missouri and northern Arkansas," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.
The flooding will be possible even though some areas are experiencing long-term dry conditions.
Cities at risk for flash flooding include Independence, Kansas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Fayetteville, Arkansas; and Springfield, Missouri. The flood risk will shift into Jonesboro, Arkansas, and Cape Girardeau, Missouri, overnight Friday.
A few inches of rain can fall in as many hours, which will quickly run off into streams. Motorists will need to allow extra time for their drive due to excess water on the roads.
When spending time outdoors or on the road, people will need to keep an eye out for rapidly changing weather conditions and monitor severe weather bulletins as they are issued.
Seek shelter indoors as soon as thunder roars. Never attempt to drive through a flooded roadway.
On Saturday, the threat for severe weather, including isolated tornadoes, will focus over the lower Mississippi Valley and part of the Tennessee Valley as the storm system moves eastward.