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Rains soak southern Plains after suspected tornado touchdown in Texas

By the CNN Wire Staff
March 20, 2012 -- Updated 0925 GMT (1725 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Flash floods are possible in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas
  • Rain amounts of up to 10 inches are possible, forecasters say
  • A woman says winds ripped the roof off her bar, though no one was hurt
  • A suspected twister touched down Monday. in a rural part of south-central Texas

(CNN) -- Heavy rains threatened to inundate sections of the central and southern Plains Tuesday -- a day after a suspected tornado from the same slow-moving system touched down in south-central Texas.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for sections of Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Severe thunderstorms are forecast across much of the same area.

By Wednesday morning, accumulations up to 10 inches of rain are expected in northeast Texas and southeast Oklahoma, up to 8 inches in southwest Arkansas, with 4 to 5 inches being common across the rest of the watch area, forecasters said.

Severe weather raked the heart of Texas Monday evening, with a suspected tornado touching down near Natalia, a town of about 1,400 residents.

The Medina County, Texas, Sheriff's Office said it received more than 300 calls about damages or injuries.

Tornadoes touch down in Oklahoma
Late winter snow storm blasts Arizona

Charlie's Ice House, a bar in Devine, was in shambles after winds barreled through, ripping off its roof.

"It happened so fast and everyone was getting away from the doors ... and then it was over," said co-owner Marilyn Banks, adding that none of the 20 to 25 people inside suffered much more than a few scratches.

Authorities, though, are "in rescue mode" searching for a motorcycle rider who is unaccounted for since the system came through, said Lawrence Trevino, San Antonio's emergency manager who is assisting neighboring counties in the response.

He said that some injuries have been reported, but there are no known deaths after the strong winds damaged about six homes.

Joanne Ortiz said she saw what appeared to be three funnel clouds from her home in Devine.

"At first we were fascinated by it. But once we saw two of them, we thought, where do we go?" said Ortiz, who lives in a one-story manufactured home on a 3-acre lot.

In Bexar County, which includes San Antonio, Fire Marshall's Office spokeswoman Laura Jesse said there "are reports of damage to one home in southwest Bexar County" but otherwise the impact appears to be limited.

"This is a rural area, so it's not that populated," Jesse said.

In Hurst, located in the Dallas-Forth Worth area, high winds ripped the awning off a strip mall, CNN affiliate KTVT-TV reported.

The unsettled weather pattern brought snow to the western United States over the weekend and more was forecast for Tuesday.

The city of Flagstaff was still digging out of 10 to 14 inches of snow, which prompted school closings in the city. The city of Prescott received 8 to 12 inches.

iReport: Are you there? Send us your weather photos

Brandon Neuman of Flagstaff produced a time-lapse video of about a foot of snow falling on his backyard deck in seven hours.

"The other day it was 65 degrees, next day it is snowing, so it's been crazy," Neuman said. "It killed a lot of people's travel plans because the highways are a mess."

But in eastern parts of the country, balmy conditions prevailed, with temperatures well above average from Texas and the Midwest all the way to the East Coast.

CNN's Jessica Jordan, Greg Botelho, Nick Valencia, Sean Morris, Leslie Tripp, Pedram Javaheri, Karol Brinkley, Maggie Schneider and Ashley Hayes contributed to this report.

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