Southern US to face flash flood, severe weather risk late this week
By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
January 18, 2017, 3:50:02 AM EST
Soaking rain and locally severe thunderstorms will elevate the flood threat over the southern United States late this week and into the weekend.
Through Wednesday, the most soaking rain and thunderstorms will primarily remain over eastern Texas and the lower Mississippi Valley.
Localized flooding and gusty thunderstorms will target Tyler and Houston, Texas, to Shreveport, Louisiana, during one or both days.
The rain will make significant eastward progress across the Deep South beginning on Thursday.
Areas from New Orleans to Nashville and Atlanta can expect to receive a thorough soaking from Thursday to Friday.
The downpours are good news for locations across the interior Southeast dealing with severe to extreme drought. However, the risk for flash flooding and travel delays will be high in the stormy pattern.
“Widespread heavy rain will put a dent in the ongoing drought for parts of the Southeast with upwards of 1 to 2 inches of rain possible," AccuWeather Meteorologist Kevin Gilmore said.
“However, torrential downpours could lead to localized flash flooding for several drought-stricken locations in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia,” he added.
The threat for flash flooding will extend northward into the southern Appalachians.
The extremely dry ground will struggle to absorb the rainfall, leading to increased runoff into streams and rivers. Burn-scarred areas will be most susceptible to runoff.
Motorists should use caution as water can pool in low-lying and poor-drainage areas and elevate the risk of street flooding. Delays are possible at major airport hubs, including in Atlanta.
A few embedded thunderstorms could turn locally severe on Thursday and Thursday night across parts of Louisiana and Mississippi, according to Gilmore, with damaging straight-line winds being the primary threat.
Severe weather threat to escalate this weekend
While locally severe thunderstorms can accompany the rain late this week across the Southeast, the threat for severe thunderstorms has the potential to skyrocket this weekend.
“What moves through later this week is just the start of an active weather pattern,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Michael Doll said.
A potent storm will cross the Southeast this weekend and clash with springlike air over the region. Thunderstorms will then erupt.
“This storm will need to be watched closely because there are signs that the environment will have enough warm and moist air to spark severe thunderstorms,” Doll said.
The magnitude and area of this weekend’s severe weather threat will become clearer in the coming days.