At least 3 dead in central US storms, with more rain to come

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Hay bales and equipment are pictured in a flooded field, Tuesday, May 21, 2019, in Kingfisher, Okla. Flooding following heavy rains was an issue across the state. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Oklahoma was bracing Wednesday for more rain, with parts of the state already flooded following days of severe weather that’s blamed for at least three deaths after also battering Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.

“The biggest concern is more rain. I mean, there’s more rain in the forecast for Tulsa, for northern Oklahoma,” Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said during a news conference following an aerial tour with Tulsa Mayor G.W. Bynum and other officials Wednesday morning.

Officials were urging residents of Webbers Falls, some 70 miles (113 kilometers) southeast of Tulsa, to leave their homes as the Arkansas River approached near-historic levels in the town of about 600 people. The National Weather Service has issued flood warnings in the northeastern corner of Oklahoma through the weekend. More than 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rain has fallen since Sunday in parts of Oklahoma after an already rainy spring.

Forecasters say parts of Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas could see more severe weather Wednesday, the latest in a multi-day stretch of storms that have produced dozens of tornadoes.

Bynum said Tulsa is so far safe from the rising Arkansas River, which the National Weather Service said was at 34.5 feet (10.5 meters), or 6.5 feet (2 meters) above flood stage, as of Wednesday morning. The river was expected to rise to 40 feet (12 meters) by Thursday morning.

“The levee system is working the way it’s supposed to right now. The river park is serving as a buffer along the river corridor,” Bynum said.

Deaths from the storms include a 74-year-old woman found early Wednesday morning who officials say was killed by a possible tornado that damaged a farmstead in Adair County. Missouri authorities said heavy rain was a contributing factor in the deaths of two people in a traffic accident on Tuesday near Springfield.

A fourth day may have occurred in Oklahoma, where the Highway Patrol said an unidentified woman apparently drowned after driving around a barricade Tuesday into high water near Perkins, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) northeast of Oklahoma City and was swept off the highway. The unidentified woman’s body was sent to the state medical examiner’s office to confirm the cause of death. Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management spokeswoman Keli Cain said she isn’t yet listed as what would be the state’s first storm-related death.

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