A major storm threatening to wreak travel havoc across the eastern third of the country in the days before Thanksgiving will be a bittersweet blessing for parts of the South, where AccuWeather meteorologists say beneficial rain could arrive with dangerous and devastating consequences due to potentially violent thunderstorms.
The upcoming weather pattern will mark the first risk of severe thunderstorms since September in some locations from the southern Plains to the lower Mississippi Valley and Southeast.
When severe weather is not occurring, the rain will be good news for the ongoing drought but is poorly timed with some of the busiest travel days of the year leading up to Thanksgiving.
Atlanta is among the major hubs that can experience inclement weather
The storm being tracked by AccuWeather meteorologists has its origins in the Pacific Ocean, where it was lurking off the California coast for several days last week. As the storm sweeps eastward across the country and collects moisture from the Gulf of Mexico to the South Atlantic, the area of rain and the intensity of the thunderstorms it produces will increase.
AccuWeather meteorologists say Monday and Tuesday will pose a greater risk for dangerous thunderstorms, both in terms of the number of reports and the severity of the risks expected.
“The severe weather threat will move east into the Arclatex and lower Mississippi Valley later Monday into Monday night,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pedinowski said.
Residents in Shreveport, Louisiana, Little Rock, Arkansas, Jackson, Mississippi, and even the northeast side of the Houston metropolitan area will need to be on high alert during the daylight hours on Monday before a band of thunderstorms moves east heading into the overnight hours.
“There will be some limiting factors in the atmosphere that could hinder tornadoes from developing in the first place,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski, adding: “But if these conditions are overcome, the situation could quickly escalate into more than just a disaster.” “. An outbreak that includes some strong tornadoes.
“In much of Mississippi and southeastern Louisiana, given the speed of the storm, a lot of the severe weather threats will occur overnight. Severe storms crossing these areas Monday night could include tornadoes as well as hail and wind,” Pedinowski said.
“Nighttime tornadoes are more dangerous because they usually cannot be seen as they approach an area and people are often asleep when they strike,” Bedinowski added.
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The area from south of Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson, Mississippi, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, will face the highest threat of severe weather after dark on Monday.
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“Everyone should be weather prepared and turn on their NOAA Weather Radio to stay safe at night as well as activate alerts and notifications on their AccuWeather app,” Pedinowski said.
By Monday night, rain, gusty winds and wintry conditions will spread across parts of the Great Lakes region before moving across the Northeast on Tuesday as heavy rain and thunderstorms continue in the South, affecting places like Atlanta.
Air travel can be halted for a time at the main airport hub until rain and thunderstorms pass safely. Delays with a ripple effect are likely elsewhere across the country if planes and crews are displaced by weather in the Southeast.
Heavy rain, hail and damaging winds could extend as far east as parts of South Carolina as well as south into the Florida Panhandle Tuesday into Tuesday evening.
Throughout both days, motorists should be aware of any fallen tree branches or other debris that may litter the road during and in the aftermath of the storms.
Rain causes headaches in the short term but is beneficial in the long term
According to the latest forecast from the U.S. Drought Monitor as of mid-November, drought conditions are widespread across the southern part of the country. Exceptional drought, the highest level on the severity scale, is affecting approximately 75% of Louisiana and 50% of Mississippi.
Between 1-3 inches of rain could fall in these areas over several hours early this week, with locally higher amounts possible in the most severe thunderstorms.
Heavy rain is likely across the South even in areas that do not experience severe weather, such as in Tennessee and in the southern Appalachians, where there is also a prolonged drought.
Motorists in the area between I-10 and I-40 are urged to slow down during heavy rain as visibility will be reduced due to road spray and the risk of hydroplaning will increase.
By Thanksgiving Day, the risk of severe weather will be over across the South. While the odds favor a mainly dry holiday in the region, AccuWeather meteorologists will be closely monitoring the potential for moisture to return by the last weekend of November.
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