Much-needed rain arrives in drought-, fire-stricken Southwest

Parts of Oklahoma and Texas have struggled with wildfires this month.

A disturbance that developed in the high Plains is bringing a mix of rain and snow to parts of Colorado, and heavy rain and strong storms to parts of the central and southern Plains on Saturday. The storms are also bringing beneficial rain to parts of the drought-stricken Southwest.

Earlier this week there were several large wildfires burning across parts of the southwest U.S. -- including large wildfires near Amarillo, Texas; Woodward, Oklahoma; and Pueblo, Colorado. Parts of this region -- stretching from Arizona to Kansas -- have developed extreme to exceptional drought and have seen less than 50 percent of its average precipitation in the last six months. Some places are at totals lower than 10 percent of the average precipitation in the last six months.

Amarillo received 0.42 inches of rain on Friday, the most since early October. However, Amarillo is still nearly 3 inches below its year-to-day average for rainfall. Dodge City, Kansas, which is still nearly 4 inches below its year-to-date average, received 0.36 inches of rain on Friday.

Unfortunately, none of this beneficial rain made it into Arizona and New Mexico -- regions that also desperately need precipitation.

The system will bring rain to much of the central and southern Plains on Saturday morning. Later in the day, the rain will expand south and east. A couple of lines of strong storms will develop in parts of eastern Texas late Saturday into Sunday. The severe risk should remain isolated, but strong winds and large hail remain a possibility.

On Sunday, the system will move into the Deep South and bring widespread rain and thunderstorms across the Tennessee Valley, Gulf Coast and into Florida. A couple of strong thunderstorms will be possible, but the threat of severe storms should remain isolated. Damaging winds and large hail remain the isolated threat with these stronger thunderstorms.

The system is moving slowly toward the Southeast and it will drop a large amount of rain across the region from Missouri to Florida. Locally, 3 to 4 inches of rain is likely through Monday. While widespread flooding is not anticipated, though locally strong thunderstorms could cause pockets of flooding.

Seasonable weather for Midwest, Northeast

Another seasonably cool morning is expected across parts of the Northeast on Saturday. Some frost advisories and freeze warnings have been issued for parts of the Appalachians and mid-Atlantic. The growing season has begun in this region and the cold can be a problem for sensitive plants.

While it will be a cool morning across this region, the big story will be the temperature recovery Saturday afternoon and for the next few days. Temperatures will warm up to near seasonable levels today across the Northeast. With temperatures near or at 60 degrees and sunny skies, it will be a pretty nice April weekend for much of the region.

For much of the country it is trending a little closer to spring-like than we've seen in the last several weeks. Parts of the Midwest -- including Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin -- saw an historic blizzard just one week ago. This weekend they are trending toward the 60s, which is seasonable or even slightly above usual for the region.