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Severe rains hit Midwest; falling tree kills Calif. girl

MARK STERKEL/THE ODESSA AMERICAN VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS

People searched through debris after a storm passed through Gardendale, Texas, Monday, with tornado warnings issued later.

OKLAHOMA CITY - Heavy rain fell across parts of the nation’s midsection Monday, forcing at least one motorist stranded in high water to call for help, while others braced for storms that could bring hail and tornadoes over the next few days.

A tornado warning spanned part of Texas, and flood warnings extended from southeast Texas north through western Missouri.

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In Oklahoma City, firefighters responded to a call for a water rescue, but by the time they arrived, the people inside the stranded car had gotten out safely.

In Texas, the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for parts of three counties northwest of San Antonio and told people in mobile homes and vehicles to seek shelter immediately. Tornado watches were issued for other parts of the state, including Dallas, where passenger rail trains were slightly delayed because of high winds.

Forecasters said storms over the next several days would bring heavy rain and the threat of hail and tornadoes across the Midwest.

A heavy snowstorm hit northern Arizona and California over the weekend, toppling a 100-foot-tall fir tree that crashed into a house, killing a sleeping 8-year-old girl in Arnold, Calif.

The tree, 3 feet in diameter, fell across a creek after a night of heavy snow and fatally pinned the girl to her bed Sunday, Ebbetts Pass fire officials said.

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Firefighters responding to a 911 call maneuvered through unplowed snow and had to call in heavy equipment to lift the tree off the house, a process that took an hour.

Flood warnings were issued from southeast Texas north through western Missouri on Monday, but after a year of drought in much of the region, fears of flooding are not what they otherwise might be in several states, where the ground is expected to absorb inches of rain with ease.

Eight inches of rain are expected in southeastern Kansas, which has been unusually dry for nearly a year. The area has had less than three-fourths of the precipitation it typically gets since last April, state climatologist Mary Knapp said.

Emergency management officials said they are keeping an eye on the clouds but feel comfortable southeast Kansas can handle several days of rain.

In Arkansas, however, the Department of Emergency Management prepared teams to respond to potential floods. The state has seen more rain than usual in the past two weeks, and vegetation is still dormant. Forecasters say heavy rain could run off and cause flash floods.

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