Authorities have ordered the evacuation of thousands of homes in Elk City, Oklahoma and Wichita, Texas after a heavy storm pummeling the Southern Plains is causing record-breaking flooding in the area.

Following a warning from the National Weather Service (NWS) that the storm could cause "historic flooding" in the affected states, officials issued an order for citizens to "move to higher ground now." In Oklahoma, Saturday morning saw two inches of rainfall drench the entire city, rising to 3.15 inches later in the day, bringing the total rainfall in May to 17.61 inches. The last time the city saw as much rainfall was in June of 1989, says CNN meteorologist Sean Morris, where rainfall was at 14.66 inches.

"Move to higher ground now," says the NWS in its flash flood warning. "This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation. Do not attempt to travel unless you are fleeing an area subject to flooding or under an evacuation order."

Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize the dangers of flooding," the NWS continues. "Do not stay in areas subject to flooding when water begins rising. Turn around... Don't drown when encountering flooded roads. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles."

The flash floods have forced the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to close at least 15 highways in the state, including the the southbound lane of Interstate-44 that heads to I-40, according to a report by KOCO-TV. More than 80 high-water calls were received by authorities and at least 42 rescues have been made, says the report. Citizens have also taken to social media to post pictures of cars submerged in floodwaters that have breached the parking lot of Penn Square Mall, while cars parked at the Shepherd Mall are nearly underwater.  

Meanwhile, citizens are urged to be on the watch for further hazards. At around 5 p.m. local time, weather forecasters issued a tornado alert for northwestern Grady County in Oklahoma after a tornado traveling northeast at 20 miles per hour was sighted. Oklahoma City and other areas in central and southwestern Oklahoma is also under a tornado warning as another tornado was seen north of Sulphur an hour after the first warning was issued.

Other states in the southern Plains are also on the watch for flash flooding, as neighboring states also experience heavy rainfall from the thunderstorm. These include Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana and northeastern Colorado. 

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