Nightly News   |  May 31, 2013

Rain pounds Midwest, swelling rivers

The pair of tornadoes that passed through Arkansas overnight, accompanied by hail and heavy rain, killed two people. In the Midwest, the worst of the flooding is still yet to come. Meanwhile, the East Coast is battling high heat and humidity and Oklahoma City is at risk for another storm. NBC’s Janet Shamilan reports.

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>>> there is a lot more severe weather developing across from coast to coast really including severe flash flooding , a wildfire out of control in southern california , and the continued recovery, of course, in oklahoma where the skies, as we see, have turned dark yet again. janet shamlian watching all of it for us from oklahoma city tonight. hey, janet, good evening.

>> reporter: brian, good evening. this is the same dangerous scenario. late afternoon, the skies start to look ominous. the wind picks up. we get the watches and warnings. here come the tornadoes. as you indicated, it is not just here. tonight there are weather threats all over the country. homeowners got their first look this morning at what yet another monster tornado left behind. this one, an ef2 targeting the tulsa area. many watched it come right at them.

>> if that starts coming down we need to boogie.

>> reporter: in oklahoma, the sightings and warning are a daily drill.

>> people say the tornado sounds like a freight train. definitely happening.

>> reporter: a pair of tornadoes touched down in arkansas overnight accompanied by hail and heavy rain . the county sheriff was among two people who died in y city. the river rose less than 23 feet in less than 12 hours.

>> i have lived here over 70 years. this is the worst it's ever been. it washed houses away down here.

>> reporter: the worst of the flooding is still ahead. with rain pounding the midwest, the mississippi and missouri rivers are swollen. forecasters say some nearby towns could see water ten feet above flood stage .

>> it's already been an extremely wet spring. the past few weeks, there has been a huge amount of rain. the land is saturated. the soil is saturated. now even more rain is on the way. that is going to lead to major flooding.

>> reporter: on the east coast , blistering heat and humidity blanketing d.c., boston, philadelphia. new york in the 90s for a second day. some cities are near 30 degrees above normal with summer still three weeks away.

>> i'm sweaty. kind of gross.

>> i'm looking for shade everywhere i turn. looking for shade.

>> reporter: in california, more than 600 firefighters are battling the power house wildfire north of santa clarita . it has already consumed 1500 acres and is only 15% contained. at biggest risk tonight are regions that have already taken a hit. oklahoma city , including r moore , and joplin, hit in 2011 by the second deadliest tornado in u.s. history . here in oklahoma city they say the next four or five hours are going to be critical. we are likely to have tornadoes here tonight. in addition, wind gusts up to 80 miles per hour and large hail. brian?

>> janet, thanks.