AccuWeather meteorologists say the potential for locally severe thunderstorms will persist in parts of the southern U.S. through the start of the weekend. Along with the continued risk of severe weather, easing drought and travel-disrupting rain will wreak havoc on outdoor plans, with flash flooding likely as a second storm develops.
The first storm that crossed the region Thursday into Thursday night produced rain that extended from the Gulf of Mexico into most of the lower Mississippi and Ohio valleys. Thunderstorms, some of which were flash floods, moved slowly from central Texas into northeastern Texas and western Louisiana.
The first storm moved north to the northeast on Saturday with more rain and thunderstorms gathering near the central Gulf Coast as a second storm formed. By Saturday morning, some locations along the Gulf Coast had already received between 3 and 6 inches of rain. In Pensacola, Florida, there were reports of flooding covering roads.
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According to the US Drought Monitor, much of the region is experiencing conditions ranging from abnormal drought to exceptional drought – the worst category of drought.
In total, 4-8 inches of rain could fall across the Florida Panhandle, extending into southern Alabama and southwest Georgia, in the time frame from Friday night into Saturday night. There is a 12-inch AccuWeather Local StormMax™.
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Heavy rain may fall very quickly in some urban areas, such as Mobile, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida, which may lead to puddles on some city streets and highways.
“As the second storm begins to move northeastward out of the Gulf through Saturday evening, enough warm air may be pulled northward to allow for an area of severe thunderstorms from southeastern Louisiana into the Florida Panhandle,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Adam Doty said.
The extent of the severe weather will depend on how much warm air expands against the wedge of cold air east of the Appalachians. Severe weather risks may extend farther east along the southern Atlantic coast for some time Saturday night.
Some of the worst drought conditions persist in parts of Louisiana and Mississippi, where precipitation in some areas is only a quarter of the historical average since the beginning of July and before Thursday's storm.
The bulk of the rain will leave the area during Saturday night. However, as a cold front approaches and sweeps into the region on Sunday, another round of rain and possibly a thunderstorm awaits from the Northeast Gulf into the Carolinas and southern Virginia.
The same storm system will spread heavy rain across the mid-Atlantic by Sunday, with snow falling in northern New England from Sunday night into Monday.
By Monday, a cold front will slowly slide south across the Florida Peninsula with intermittent showers and thunderstorms as dry air expands over the Southeast. Much of the new week will be dry before moisture returns from the Gulf of Mexico next weekend.
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