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Heavy rain on tap by Monday; will it help blunt drought?

Powerful thunderstorms are on tap for this weekend, but only time will tell if the precipitation will blunt the drought gripping North Texas.

The forecast holds a 40-50 percent chance for rain over the weekend, but it's expected to rise to 60 percent on Monday, all courtesy of an upper-level low pressure system from Canada.

Forecasters said it will camp out over the southern plains and send several pulses of energy south over the weekend. The energy will interact with moist Gulf Coast air, which has been dragged into North Texas by southerly winds.

The result will be heavy rain, forecasters said.

The weather service issued a hazardous weather outlook for the next several days, and warned of possible flash flooding.

Busting the drought, however, will require more rain than what's anticipated over the next five days, said Joe Harris, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.

"I'm looking for 2-4 inches of rain through mid week," Harris said, "but if it shuts off and doesn't rain again, we'll be right back in drought mode again."

The latest data from the weather service shows that the normal average rainfall recorded at DFW Airport through July 31 is 21.02 inches.

This year, however, only 16.35 had fallen by the end of July, said Nick Hampshire, another weather service meteorologist.

By comparison, the same time period last year recorded 21.12 inches of rain at the airport, but 2007 was an unusually wet year, Hampshire said.

FIERCE FRIDAY

A round of fierce thunderstorms early Friday in North Texas was not associated with the Canadian upper-level low pressure system.

Friday's weather was part of an unexpected storm complex that developed Thursday over Kansas, Harris said.

It created an outflow that pushed south "like a bulldozer," Harris said. Once it reached Texas it collided with a ready supply of moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, which fired off the thunderstorms.

Downpours started around 2 a.m. Friday in North Texas, Harris said.

Hampshire added that DFW Airport recorded .94, while Alliance got 1.67, Meacham had 1.71, and Arlington and Love Field in Dallas both had .98.

Friday's storms caused some flight delays at DFW and about 16,000 power outages throughout the Metroplex, according to reports.

Work crews reduced the outages to 2,600 by 3 p.m., said Megan Wright, spokeswoman for Oncor Electric Delivery.

Updated figures would be available around 7 p.m., she added.

Flights at DFW appeared to be back on track by late morning, following some delays from lightning, said Brian Murnahan, airport spokesman.

There were also reports of minor street flooding in some areas, and the morning commute was slowed by minor accidents on the roadways.

Power outages deactivated some traffic lights in Haltom City, but they were restored by late morning, a dispatcher for police and fire services said.

NOT THE MAIN EVENT

The Canadian weather system is expected to create its own drama over the weekend, Harris said.

Rain chances were at 30 percent Friday morning, but they were reduced to 20 percent in the afternoon.

But the chances for rain were expected to grow to 40-50 percent over the weekend, and then rise to 60 percent on Monday. A 50 percent chance for rain was in Tuesday's forecast.

Cooler temperatures in the high 80s are expected to prevail during the five-day period, the weather service said.

"Monday looks like the big day," Harris said. "That's when the upper-low out of Canada will really affect us."

The weather service issued a hazardous weather outlook for the next several days, and warned of possible flash flooding because Friday's rains saturated soils in the region.

"I'm thinking that by about Sunday or Monday, we're going start having some flood problems," Harris said.

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