York, Chester counties under flash flood watch until Thursday

04/28/2014 3:39 PM

04/30/2014 12:30 PM

A severe storm system is expected to take hold of York, Chester and Lancaster counties this week, bringing high winds, heavy rains and possibly tornadoes. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch on Monday afternoon, advising of possible dangerous weather conditions on Tuesday and Wednesday in York and Chester counties.

The "main threat" of bad weather exists on Tuesday afternoon and into Wednesday, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jeffrey Taylor. From Tuesday to Thursday, meteorologists predict up to 4 inches of rain will fall in the area.

Depending on the strength of the storm, officials may issue flash flood and tornado watches or warnings. There’s potential for isolated tornadoes around the Charlotte area, Taylor said, but severe thunderstorms, strong winds and hail are more likely.

This week’s extreme weather is part of a severe storm system that formed Monday in the Central and Northern Plains of the United States. Meteorologists say the storm system is moving slowly toward the Carolinas. It will eventually move on by the end of the week to the Great Lakes area.

The system pummeled many parts of the South and Midwest over the weekend, hitting Arkansas the hardest. At least 18 people were killed after multiple tornadoes touched down in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Iowa. Medical personnel reported at least 100 more people were injured.

While the chance of tornadoes around York, Chester and Lancaster counties this week is still unknown, meteorologists warn that the high-speed “straight-line winds” expected in the area could cause damage similar to that of a weak tornado. Strong gusts could produce winds of more than 58 mph.

Taylor also warns of the increased chance of flooding in the area with the forecasts of rainfall, saying, “We expect quite a bit of rain before this is over with.”

On Monday, the National Weather Service issued a “hazardous weather outlook” that called for severe thunderstorms to start on Tuesday morning or afternoon in York, Chester and Lancaster counties. The expected heavy rainfall could overwhelm local waterways and cause flooding.

Meteorologists predict that the storm and precipitation will continue into Wednesday, increasing the chances of flash floods or landslides.

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