DENVER (AP) — Oklahoma and other Great Plains states are getting another dose of severe weather on Saturday, with flood evacuations ordered in northern Colorado, heavy snow headed for the Rocky Mountains and a few tornadoes popping up on the eastern Plains. Residents are expecting large hail in parts of western Kansas, western Colorado and the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles. There is also a tropical storm lurking off the East Coast.
Twin weather systems are being blamed for storms stretching from the Carolinas to California.
The two giant systems are not linked, said meteorologist Frank Cooper of the National Weather Service in Boulder, Colorado.
FLOODING, EVACUATIONS AND SNOW
Flooding, evacuations and snow are on the menu for the West and Midwest.
Winter-storm warnings have been issued in Colorado, Wyoming, and parts of western Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. Up to 25 inches of snow is possible for the Black Hills of South Dakota, and up to 2 feet is possible for the Rocky Mountains.
Rising river levels fed by heavy rains forced the evacuation Friday night of the St. Vrain Campground in northern Colorado.
The Frederick-Firestone Fire Protection District issued the mandatory evacuation of all park guests around 11:30 p.m. Friday, Weld County spokeswoman Jennifer Finch said. No injuries have been reported.
The National Weather Service reported a few landslides along the Saint Vrain in Boulder County and minor flooding in several businesses In Lyons.
Manitou Springs spokesman Dave Hunting said the city will open a Red Cross shelter after a hail storm pelted the town on Saturday and the threat of flooding increased.
Several small tornadoes were spotted on Colorado’s eastern Plains, but no damage or injuries were reported.
TROPICAL STORM ANA
Early surprise Ana muscled up to a tropical storm early Saturday as it plodded toward the Carolinas, threatening to push dangerous surf and drenching rains up against the Southeast coast as it made its appearance weeks ahead of the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season.
Beach officials in North Carolina and South Carolina warned about dangerous surf, campers were told to pack up and some college seniors were forced to head inside for graduation as the storm churned on.
Tropical storm warnings were in effect in coastal areas of both states. Forecasters said that tropical storm wind conditions could reach the coast by late afternoon, and the center of the storm could come ashore by early Sunday.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm had top sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph). It’s expected to move near the coasts of South and North Carolina sometime Sunday morning.
Dangerous surf and rip tides appear to be the biggest threat posed by the Atlantic season’s first tropical storm, though isolated flooding in some coastal areas is also a concern, senior hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart said.
Although the season doesn’t formally start until June 1, Stewart told The Associated Press that such early surprise storms are not all that unusual every few years or so.
It’s not all rain and snow. Fire warnings are in effect for southern New Mexico and western Texas. Forecasters say the storm is bringing 25 mph winds with low humidity and high fire dangers.
Any fires will likely spread quickly, and outdoor burning is not recommended.
Temperatures in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, will hit near 72 degrees. It will be windy, with a west wind increasing to 25 miles per hour in the afternoon. Winds could gust to 35 miles per hour.
A cold spring storm left some California mountains coated Friday with the kind of snowfalls that winter largely failed to deliver, while scattered downpours doused other parts of the drought-stricken state.
The hit-and-miss system blanketed patches of the Sierra Nevada in white, and a May snow day shuttered schools in the Rim of the World district atop the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles.
In the San Bernardino range, preschool teacher Karen Day said the weather turned windy and cold in Running Springs, and the community woke up to 3 inches of snow — enough for children to build a snowman.
“We didn’t think we’d get this much. We thought maybe a dusting,” she said.
OKLAHOMA TORNADO WARNINGS
Conditions appear to be ripe on Saturday for storms that could produce powerful tornadoes across an area covering southern Kansas, western Oklahoma and parts of North Texas.
Nickel- to quarter-sized hail was reported Saturday near Lawton and Anadarko in southwestern Oklahoma.
More storms with rain, hail and tornadoes are forecast in eastern Nebraska, while people living in the state’s west might have to dust off their snow shovels.
The National Weather Service predicts 3 inches to 5 inches of heavy, wet snow by Sunday evening in the Nebraska Panhandle. Meteorologist Rob Cox said snow is not uncommon in the state in May and even June.
The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety said part of Interstate 44 in Tulsa was closed because of high water after a storm system Friday night dumped more rain on the area.
A tornado touched down in Oklahoma on Friday night in Waurika. There were no reports of any damage.