- Associated Press - Sunday, April 10, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Storms could dump large hail and heavy rain - and could even spawn tornadoes - as they move through parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri late Sunday and overnight, according to the National Weather Service.

“The main threat is very large hail, up to the size of tennis balls,” said meteorologist Ryan Barnes with the weather service in Norman. “Tornadoes can’t totally be ruled out, especially across southwestern and central and south central Oklahoma.”

Barnes said the storms are expected to develop in western and northwestern Oklahoma, followed by a cold front that is forecast to merge with the first storm, leading to hail and rain Sunday night and Monday morning.

“There could be some localized flooding,” Barnes said. “Localized flash flooding is always possible in severe weather.”

The storm system is expected to move eastward during the night into eastern Oklahoma and northwestern Arkansas, where more hail and gusty winds will be the primary threat, said meteorologist Joe Sellers with the weather service in Tulsa.

“Basically the I-44 corridor north, that’s where the main threat is,” Sellers said.

There’s a small chance that a tornado could form late Sunday or early Monday, according to Sellers.

“It’s pretty low but it’s not zero,” Sellers said about the possibility of a twister. “It’s that time of year.”

The system is expected to move into southeastern Kansas and the southern half of Missouri on Monday, continuing the threat of large hail and strong winds, while the weather service’s Storm Prediction Center said strong thunderstorms are also possible in southeastern Oklahoma, southwestern Arkansas and northeastern Texas on Monday.

The rain could be a blessing, particularly in northwestern Oklahoma where a wildfire had burned about 90 square miles since Tuesday.

“The drought stricken areas in western and northwestern Oklahoma certainly could use the rain,” Barnes said. “The green up (of vegetation) will be nice, it will help the fire weather threat diminish.”

The northwestern corner of Oklahoma and the Panhandle were in moderate drought, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday.

The area from southwestern through northeastern Oklahoma and into northwestern Arkansas was rated as abnormally dry in the report.

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