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US weekend forecast: Triple threat of heavy rains, wildfires and blizzard

Harsh weather systems are unleashing three sets of menacing conditions Saturday: thunderstorms and tornado risks in t...

Posted: Apr 15, 2018 3:34 PM
Updated: Apr 15, 2018 3:34 PM

Harsh weather systems are unleashing three sets of menacing conditions Saturday: thunderstorms and tornado risks in the South, more wildfire danger in Oklahoma and the southern Plains, and a blizzard in the upper Plains and Upper Midwest.

Severe storms already made their mark in western Arkansas, where a tornado flattened several homes Friday in Mountainburg, the town's mayor told CNN. A National Weather Service survey Friday in Mountain Home, Arkansas, showed that straight-line winds got up to 85 miles per hour in the area, according to CNN affiliate KFSM-TV.

Tornadoes also could be in play Saturday in parts of the South, where severe storms are poised to dump heavy rain. Parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle are at an enhanced risk of severe weather conditions such as damaging winds and hail, the Storm Prediction Center said.

Track the severe storms here

Flooding also could occur in those states, as well as Arkansas and Tennessee, with more than 4 inches of rain possible in some spots over the weekend.

Mountainburg Mayor Neal Moon told CNN several homes and mobile homes were "completely gone" after Friday's tornado in his town, and many others sustained extensive damage. The tornado hit the elementary school, Moon said, but no children were there at the time.

Details about injuries, if any, weren't immediately available.

There's a storm chaser traffic jam in Tornado Alley

Joshua Brown posted a video of the storm on Twitter, saying, "I think we just drove through rotation in Mountainburg. Saw the wall cloud, saw the rotation. This video does not do it justice cause it formed really quickly."

Oklahoma wildfires kill 1, force evacuations

Meanwhile, the risk of wildfires in Oklahoma -- where blazes already have consumed more than 350,000 acres and forced some towns to evacuate -- and parts of the Southwest and southern Plains remains high.

Strong winds -- including gusts of 40 to 50 mph -- and dry conditions mean parts of Texas and Oklahoma are at extreme risk for wildfires Saturday.

Wildfires have been burning for a few days in parts of Oklahoma, leaving at least one man dead.

The largest blaze was in Oklahoma's Dewey County, which by Saturday morning had burned more than 240,000 acres and was only 3% contained, according to Oklahoma Forestry Services.

Evacuations had been ordered in the Dewey County towns of Vici, Seiling, Taloga and Putnam -- communities with combined populations of nearly 2,000 people -- officials said.

Gov. Mary Fallin announced a state of emergency for 52 of the state's 77 counties because of wildfire and drought conditions.

"I'm asking all Oklahomans to be vigilant and careful, and to do their part to prevent fires," Fallin said in a statement Friday. "Anything that can be done to minimize fires will help to keep both our firefighters and the public safe."

Blizzard underway

Yes, this weekend marks the middle of April. And yes, heavy snow is still in the forecast for the northern Plains and Upper Midwest.

Frigid air is filtering south from Canada, and where that air meets moisture, we are seeing blasts of April snow.

Some parts of the northern Plains already have picked up 1 to 2 feet of snow since Thursday. And blizzard warnings -- forecasting heavy snow and strong winds combining for whiteout conditions -- were in place Saturday morning in parts of Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota.

Parts of the northern Plains and the Upper Midwest could receive 8 inches to 2 feet of snow through the weekend.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport said via Twitter it was temporarily suspending flights Saturday to include those taking off and landing because of a "lack of visibility and fast rate of snowfall."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 333626

Reported Deaths: 3843
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin700691145
Ramsey29459521
Dakota23564198
Anoka23541236
Washington14864125
Stearns14564125
St. Louis9549121
Scott896460
Wright847548
Olmsted714637
Sherburne618746
Clay529960
Carver509715
Kandiyohi440828
Rice432338
Blue Earth431217
Crow Wing383339
Otter Tail338925
Chisago334516
Benton322753
Nobles316032
Winona297832
Douglas283040
Mower274823
Polk271527
Morrison246731
McLeod233721
Lyon232812
Beltrami230718
Goodhue222932
Becker221521
Steele21038
Itasca206324
Isanti203917
Carlton201417
Todd190314
Nicollet172126
Mille Lacs164632
Freeborn16227
Le Sueur157012
Brown156115
Cass153511
Pine14498
Meeker144812
Waseca143411
Roseau13035
Martin124721
Hubbard119729
Wabasha11301
Redwood104620
Chippewa9808
Renville95530
Cottonwood9454
Dodge9311
Watonwan8944
Wadena8637
Sibley8404
Rock8249
Houston8004
Aitkin79930
Fillmore7690
Pipestone76518
Pennington7058
Yellow Medicine69612
Kanabec68614
Swift63610
Murray6124
Faribault6093
Pope5721
Clearwater55410
Marshall5459
Stevens5403
Jackson5321
Lake4518
Koochiching4216
Wilkin4175
Lac qui Parle4124
Lincoln3811
Unassigned38159
Norman3718
Big Stone3392
Mahnomen3225
Grant2986
Kittson2518
Red Lake2303
Traverse1531
Lake of the Woods1071
Cook800

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 237371

Reported Deaths: 2571
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk34873347
Linn14787169
Scott1184692
Black Hawk11288147
Woodbury10763137
Johnson985939
Dubuque947999
Story701924
Pottawattamie682474
Dallas661260
Sioux383829
Webster378339
Cerro Gordo373252
Marshall360950
Clinton345645
Buena Vista316614
Muscatine305172
Des Moines300623
Warren294115
Plymouth287044
Wapello265072
Jones237118
Jasper231546
Lee228719
Marion211922
Carroll204325
Bremer202713
Henry19367
Crawford183116
Benton175423
Tama157442
Jackson151117
Washington150216
Delaware147621
Dickinson145812
Boone144912
Mahaska133928
Wright13107
Clay12505
Buchanan123410
Hardin122812
Hamilton119514
Page11925
Kossuth11768
Clayton115510
Cedar114614
Harrison113432
Floyd111921
Mills11129
Calhoun10987
Fayette109812
Lyon10769
Butler10748
Winneshiek105513
Poweshiek103714
Iowa101414
Cherokee9674
Winnebago96325
Chickasaw9195
Hancock9138
Sac9068
Louisa90122
Grundy89514
Allamakee88413
Cass84725
Union8437
Mitchell8429
Appanoose81613
Humboldt8125
Shelby80511
Emmet79026
Guthrie78315
Franklin76421
Jefferson7635
Madison7265
Unassigned7090
Palo Alto6744
Keokuk6567
Pocahontas6024
Howard5859
Ida54915
Osceola5461
Greene5422
Montgomery51411
Clarke5064
Davis4839
Taylor4833
Monona4567
Adair4539
Monroe45113
Worth3881
Fremont3823
Van Buren3815
Decatur3410
Lucas3416
Audubon3112
Wayne3087
Ringgold2432
Adams1812
Rochester
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Mason City
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Albert Lea
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Austin
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Charles City
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