February 19, 2019

Waves of Storms Set to Bring Flooding Rains to the Southeast This Week

Every day is mildew season in the southeastern United States these days since it's apparently never going to stop raining. That interminable wet streak will continue with five or more inches of rain anticipated over the next seven days across an enormous swath of the south. It's uncommon to see such a big slug of heavy rain in this part of the country without a tropical system involved.

The latest precipitation forecast from the Weather Prediction Center shows the opportunity for five or more inches of rain centered on the mid-South. The precipitation will come in several major waves. The first storm system will develop tonight and last through Thursday morning, bringing heavy rain and thunderstorms to the southeast. Some of the thunderstorms could even be severe with gusty winds, large hail, and a few tornadoes. The next chances for heavy rain will begin Friday and last through the weekend. More rain is expected over the affected areas next week.
Source: Tropical Tidbits


It looks like a safe bet that the heaviest rain will continue moving over the same areas because the upper-levels seem to be on pause for the time being. The above animation shows height anomalies at the 500 millibar level between Tuesday morning and Sunday morning. The trough over the western United States and the ridge over the southwestern Atlantic don't move much longitudinally through early next week. The southeast is in the unlucky position to get pinched between the trough and the ridge, forcing that highway of precipitation to keep moving over the same areas.

Not everyone will see all of the rain in the forecast. Some communities will only see an inch or two of rain and others could see half a foot or more. It depends on the tracks of thunderstorms and batches of heavy rain as they traverse the area.
Maps: WPC


Rain this heavy could lead to flooding, especially along streams and rivers. Sustained heavy rain could lead to street flooding. I'm sure we'll see video of someone trying to ford a flooded roadway like they're the protagonist in Oregon Trail. Here's a hint for you: you won't get dysentery, but try to cross a flooded road and you could wash away and die. It's nearly impossible to judge the depth of water crossing a roadway and you can't be completely sure that there's even a road under the water. It can take just a foot of moving water to wash a vehicle downstream.

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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I ran Gawker's The Vane for two years and I've contributed to Mental Floss, Forbes, Popular Science, and the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang. I also teamed up with Outdoor Life to write a book called The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, which came out in October 2015.

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