Ag Weather Forum

Heavy Rain, Severe Storms Rip Through Central US; Southwest Misses Out Again

John Baranick
By  John Baranick , DTN Meteorologist
A tornado ripped through a farm west of Harlan, Iowa, on April 26, leaving some of the damage shown here; this was part of an extensive amount of tornadoes and other damage that occurred with two storm systems this past weekend. (DTN photo by Chris Clayton)

Two storm systems moved in rapid succession across the Plains and Midwest starting April 25 and continuing through April 29. During the five-day stretch, some areas were continuously pounded by heavy rain while others saw severe storm damage from wind, large hail and an outbreak of tornadoes.

Two storms that follow a similar path in such a short period of time (the second low-pressure center entered the Central Plains about 36 hours after the first) is a pretty rare accomplishment by Mother Nature. If two storms are so close together, they usually follow a different trajectory or timeline. But these did not, which compounded the heavy rainfall across the middle of the country.

Missouri, and the areas surrounding it, were hit the hardest. The state saw a general 3 to 6 inches of rainfall over most of the state during the five-day period and there were stripes across west-central and southwest portions of the state in the 6- to 10-inch range. Springfield, Missouri, registered 5.2 inches of rainfall during the stretch. Nevada, Missouri, clocked in with 8.31 inches. Nearby Butler, Missouri, which did not have its instruments working on April 25 or 26, still recorded 6.94 inches between April 27-28. Others in these areas likely found more rain than the reporting stations did.

But even though Missouri may have been the epicenter of the rainfall, the vast majority of those living in the Plains and Midwest were in the 1- to 3-inch range, with streaks of lower and higher amounts due to the track of thunderstorms that rolled through the region.

The heavy rain has meant flooding in general around Missouri and neighboring areas of Kansas and Illinois, as well as farther south in eastern Texas and southwest Louisiana.

The rain was needed for a lot of these areas and blankets much of the agricultural land with good soil moisture, but it came with a cost. As spring storm systems typically do, the thunderstorms were often severe during the four-day stretch of April 25-28.

Large hail was the focus for April 25 and hit far western Kansas with some monster-sized chunks of ice 2- to 3-inch in diameter -- the size of tennis balls or baseballs. Hitting some of the wheat country out there likely caused extensive damage to crops and property.

On April 26, long-tracked tornadoes ripped through Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas into Missouri, and northeast Texas. Several of these were incredibly strong over their 50- to 80-mile nearly continuous tracks and wrecked neighborhoods and farms. While tornadoes were still reported throughout much of the same areas on April 27, from Texas up through northwestern Missouri, they were not as damaging or long-lived. Hail and damaging winds were much more widespread in these areas, however.

April 28 was the least-active day but still saw a few tornadoes and many strong wind gusts as a mesoscale convective system, commonly referred to as an MCS, blasted through eastern Texas and into Louisiana. Below is a table of the report counts to the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) as of 9 a.m. CDT April 30. You can find updated information from the SPC at this link here:….

Date Tornados Wind Damage Large Hail Total Reports
Thu, April 25 11 34 79 124
Fri, April 26 134 42 79 255
Sat, April 27 48 72 124 244
Sun, April 28 16 85 11 112
Totals 209 233 293 735

Though heavy rain is likely to cause stoppages or delays to spring planting progress for the next week, especially since the pattern stays active this week with more widespread rain over multiple days, there was a section of the region that was left out. The southwestern Plains areas of western Kansas and the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles received very little precipitation during the two-system onslaught. Outside of the hailstorms near the Colorado border and a few streaks of severe storms farther south, the region was left dry.

Winter wheat conditions continue to fall in these areas. Good-to-excellent ratings on this week's USDA NASS weekly Crop Progress report showed a decline from 36% last week to just 31% this week. Though most of the crops are in the fair-or-good ratings, the share of the crop getting into the poor- to very-poor categories is increasing, now at 31% of the crop. Without rain soon, these areas are going to have production issues. The pattern may still be active, but the prospect for good rainfall is eluding this general area.

DTN Crops Editor Jason Jenkins will be on the 2024 Hard Winter Wheat Tour during the week of May 13. Organized by the Wheat Quality Council, the tour offers a firsthand look at this year's crop, allowing scouts to estimate yields and assess pest and disease pressure. Watch for daily updates and final yield estimates on and on social platform X @JasonJenkinsDTN and @dtnpf.

With how different the weather has been in the western end of the state compared to the east, it should make for some interesting developments during the tour.

To find more weather conditions and your local forecast from DTN, head over to…

John Baranick can be reached at


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