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Tornado warning in Texas, water rescue call in Okla. as heavy rain rolls across central US
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) ' Heavy rain fell across parts of the nation's midsection Monday, forcing at least one motorist stranded in high water to call for help, while others braced for storms that could bring hail and tornadoes over the next few days.
A tornado warning spanned part of Texas, and flood warnings stretched from southeast Texas north through western Missouri.
In Oklahoma City, firefighters responded to a call for a water rescue, but by the time they arrived, the people inside the stranded car had gotten out safely.
In Texas, tornado warnings west and northwest of San Antonio expired without serious reported damage, but the city and more than a dozen surrounding counties remained under a tornado watch expected to last into early Tuesday morning.
Thousands of customers lost power in Dallas-Fort Worth, where strong winds and rain pelted the area. A swath of central Texas reaching from the Oklahoma border to Mexico was under a tornado watch through late Monday.
The fresh crop of storms comes after two tornadoes damaged homes and railcars in North Platte, Neb., on Sunday. The EF3 twister with winds up to 165 mph injured four people.
Eight inches of rain was expected in southeastern Kansas, which has been unusually dry for nearly a year. The area has had less than three-fourths of the precipitation it typically gets since last April, state climatologist Mary Knapp said.
"We're looking at maybe a week of rain in that part of the state," she said. "That would be a very, very nice start to our spring season."
Emergency management officials said they're keeping an eye on the clouds but feel comfortable southeast Kansas can handle several days of rain.
In Arkansas, however, emergency management officials readied teams to respond to flash floods, especially in the western part of the state where the heaviest downpour was expected. The U.S. Forest Service closed campsites preemptively Monday, exercising caution after 20 people died in a flash flood at a remote campground in 2010.
"When rain falls in those terrain areas" ' especially the hills and valleys ' "it's quickly funneled into small rivers and streams," said B.J. Simpson, a National Weather Service meteorologist. "Those are the most dangerous areas."
Still, even flatlands could still see the potential for runoff and flash floods if the rain comes too fast for the ground to absorb it.
"There's really no amount of dry ground that can take up to 10 inches of rain in a couple day timeframe," Simpson said.
Associated Press writers Bill Draper in Kansas City, Mo., Rochelle Hines in Oklahoma City, Nomaan Merchant in Dallas and Jeannie Nuss in Little Rock, Ark. contributed to this report.