Central U.S. spared the worst of forecasts, but rains, snow ahead

KANSAS CITY, Mo., April 10 Wed Apr 10, 2013 11:00am EDT

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KANSAS CITY, Mo., April 10 (Reuters) - Forecasts for severe weather, including tornadoes, failed to materialize overnight in the central U.S. region, prompting a sigh of relief from residents early on Wednesday.

"We dodged a big bullet yesterday and last night. I don't know why things changed but I'm glad they changed," said Pat Slattery, spokesman for the National Weather Service in Kansas City.

Forecasters had called for possible baseball-sized hail and potentially deadly tornadoes as a cold front sweeping through Colorado collided with balmy conditions in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

The region did see isolated hail storms from Texas into Iowa, and a lighting strike that set off a small explosion at a farm in Texas.

As well, freezing rain and snow caused power outages, flight cancellations and highway closures, but overall conditions overall were tamer than expected, said Greg Carbin, meteorologist with the Storm Prediction Center for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Grim weather is still on cards for the region, however, with more snow, rain and freezing temperatures forecast Wednesday.

Rapid City, South Dakota could see up to 26 inches (66 cm) of snow Wednesday and 18 inches (46 cm) was forecast in North Dakota. Kansas City, meanwhile, was under a flash flood warning after heavy overnight rains, with more rainfall expected Wednesday.

Severe storms were also possible in Missouri and Arkansas, forecasters said.

"It's going to be a busy day again today. We're not completely out of the woods," said Slattery.

The Denver International Airport was open and operating normally Wednesday morning after heavy snow forced the cancellation of about 500 flights on Tuesday. Temperatures there were still a frigid 7 degrees Fahrenheit (-14 C) but operations were back to normal.

"Everything is great. It is blue skies," said airport spokesman Heath Montgomery. "It is very cold but that is the way it goes." (Editing by Scott Malone and Bernadette Baum)

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