By The Hays Daily News

The rainy weather has been a blessing to the northwest Kansas region.

But that weather also has a double-edged sword, especially when severe weather strikes.

Today is no exception.

Forecasters are calling for the potential for severe storms in the state, including Ellis County.

"The thunderstorm chance will be ramping up this afternoon up through this evening,"  said Kelly Sugden, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Dodge City. "The Hays area has chances this afternoon, and some could be severe, with large hail and damaging winds."

Rain has worked its way through the area this week, adding relief to the drought-stricken area. It's also kept some combines from harvesting the wheat crop as farmers wait for things to dry out.

They might not get much of a chance to get back into the fields, though. There's an 80-percent chance of rain tonight in the Hays area, with possible rainfall between a half inch and three-quarters of an inch.

Sugden said the NWS also is eyeing the potential for the severe storms. The organization issued a hazardous weather outlook early this morning for several counties in the area, including Trego, Ellis, Ness and Rush.

Storms could produce up to tennis-ball size hail, damaging winds, localized flooding and a possible tornado late this afternoon through this evening, according to the report.

Sugden said the weather pattern recently has helped fuel the potential for storms.

"There's an approaching jet stream from the Northwest that has a big ol' trough," he said.

Another chance of rain is expected Saturday, especially in the morning, with highs during the day in the upper 80s.

Things are expected to dry out Sunday, with a high in the lower 90s.

Sugden said the NWS is "fairly confident" there will be severe weather today.

"We're just asking people to keep an eye to the sky and call and give us reports if they experience severe weather," he said.