The first widespread rain of the season finally came Sunday, causing flash flooding in eastern parts of the state during the afternoon and evening hours.
Water was covering areas of Interstate 40 in Sequoyah County, and numerous county roads were flooded leaving cars stranded in the evening, authorities reported to the weather service.
Adair County law officers reported several water rescues in Watts and Westville, and McIntosh County emergency management reported Checotah Middle School buildings were flooded about 7 p.m.
A swift water rescue in Poteau was under way just before 8 p.m., Le Flore County emergency management reported.
Several U.S. and state highways also were closed in Okmulgee County in the evening because of flash flooding, officials said.
County roads near Haskell in Muskogee County also were reported flooded and impassable by law officers in the afternoon.
A tornado warning was issued in Haskell, northern LeFlore, and southern Sequoyah counties about 5:45 p.m. by the National Weather Service in Tulsa, but no tornado or damage was reported with that storm, meteorologist Mark Austin said.
Storm spotters saw four funnel clouds pass overhead, but they never reached the ground, Pittsburg County emergency manager Trent Myers said. There was a report of part of a barn lying on the side of a road, Myers said.
A tornado watch was issued for Atoka, Bryan, Choctaw, Coal, Haskell, Johnston, Latimer, LeFlore, McCurtain, Marshall, Pittsburg, Pushmataha and Sequoyah counties until early Monday.
Most of the state saw measurable rainfall Sunday, including from three-quarters of an inch to a little over an inch in the Oklahoma City metro area, according to the National Weather Service and Oklahoma Mesonet. Only far northwestern and southeastern Oklahoma didn't see rain Sunday.
Okmulgee had the most rainfall Sunday, recording 6.09 inches from midnight to 8 p.m., followed by Haskell in Muskogee County with 5.76 inches in the same time, according to the Mesonet.
Sites in Hectorville and Porter received more than four inches, while Bristow, Cookson, Eufaula, Okemah, Shawnee, Stigler, Stuart, Tahlequah and Westville reported more than three inches of rain on Sunday.
More than two inches of rainfall was recorded in Norman and 1.42 inches fell in Guthrie by 8 p.m., the Mesonet reported.
Rain was expected to fall off and on overnight, especially in central and eastern Oklahoma, according to the weather service. Chances for showers and thunderstorms persist through midweek.
Much of Oklahoma, including the Oklahoma City area, has been affected by extreme or severe drought, according to the U.S Drought Monitor. All but far northeastern Oklahoma has been affected at least by abnormally dry weather.
But this rain will not be a drought-buster on its own, weather service meteorologist Forrest Mitchell said. A warm, dry weather pattern should start soon that may not be broken by more rain for another week and a half or more, so this may not signify the start of a rainier spring season.
“It would be nice to be able to say that, but there's no telling,” said Forrest Mitchell, a weather service meteorologist.
The moisture will help the fire danger in the state for a few days, but it could return as soon as late this week, he said.
“There will be some additional greening, but there's still a lot of dry vegetation out there,” Mitchell added. “By the end of this week, the short-term effects will have worn off. There will be some drying. We may get into a situation where humidity is getting low again, below 20 percent, and we have higher temperatures, and the threat of wildfires will return.
CONTRIBUTING: The Associated Press