Storm after Thanksgiving could make messy travel in eastern U.S.



An unwelcome deluge of heavy rain and thunderstorms is sweeping across the country, bringing flooding for some, the chance of severe weather for others and even a dose of plowable snowfall for residents of western Texas and eastern New Mexico. It’s the second of at least three back-to-back storm systems to move through the Lower 48, part of an active weather pattern that looks set to last into early December.

DC area forecast: Short showers today. Saturday is the pick of the weekend.

Hardest hit will be a broad swath of the Deep South and Southern Plains, where 2 to 4 inches of general rainfall could cause localized flooding. Some of the heaviest could fall in the greater Houston metro area, where flood watches are in effect through Saturday.

The storm isn’t very intense as high winds and tornadoes won’t be a problem, but it comes during arguably the worst possible time of year when people travel home after the Thanksgiving holiday. During this peak of post-Thanksgiving travel, 55 million Americans are expected to drive 50 miles or more. Millions more will take to the air or rails. Every time there is travel, the weather becomes crucial.

The storm is increasing over the Texas Trans-Pecos and northern Chihuahua, Mexico, where a pronounced counterclockwise swirl is seen on water vapor satellite imagery. Ahead of the system, relatively mild, moister air flows to the north, while colder Canadian air blows south in its wake.

Where the moisture and cold air overlap, plowable snow falls. Such is the case in southeastern New Mexico, the western parts of the Texas Hill Country and the Big Bend of Texas. Winter storm warnings are in effect in Marfa, Tex., and Carlsbad, NM, with a winter weather advisory for Lubbock. The Interstate 10 corridor could be badly affected.

Farther east, rain fell on the warm side of the system between Abilene and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Additional downpours and a few thunderstorms were lurking off the coast of Houston.

As the system intensifies, it will pull a tongue of moisture north from the Gulf of Mexico. That would lead to a conveyor belt of downpours repeatedly targeting Houston. The National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center has drawn a level 3 out of 4 moderate risk of excessive rainfall and flash flooding around the city.

The National Weather Service’s local office warns that “precipitation rates of up to 2 inches per hour are expected, with higher rates of up to 4 inches per hour in the stronger and slower-moving storms.” That could quickly lead to severe buildup that would overwhelm the soil’s ability to absorb runoff, especially in cityscapes and more densely populated areas.

Farther north and west, Austin, Dallas and Longview may see an inch or more, with some minor delays likely along Interstates 10, 20, 30 and 35.

In the corridor from Houston to Galveston, also a major air travel hub, the heaviest rain falls Friday night into the first half of Saturday. Anywhere from 2 to 5 inches or more is possible, with the largest totals coming from downpours training or moving over the same areas repeatedly.

A level 1 out of 5 marginal severe weather probability also covers parts of the South Texas coastline, including the Matagorda Peninsula, where a brief, fleeting tornado cannot be ruled out.

Heavy rainfall in the South and Midwest

By Saturday morning, the strengthening low will shift into Central Texas, spreading the main axis of moderate to locally heavy rainfall into Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and East Texas. A six- to 10-hour window of moderate rainfall will move through Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee in the second half of Saturday into the night or early Sunday, as a lighter region of “enveloping” rains moves west around the low-pressure center.

A general 1 to 2 inches of rain is likely in most of the South, with half an inch to an inch in Tennessee. Parts of the Midwest can also get some decent rainfall, with just over an inch across most of central and southern Illinois, Indiana and Missouri. Amounts taper off east of the Appalachians.

Rain along the east coast on Sunday

The Interstate 95 corridor in the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic will see its rain, about a half inch to three-quarters of an inch, centered around noon on Sunday, it could last for a few hours. It won’t be a wash out, but some moderate to heavy showers can be expected. Lighter rain showers may reach all the way back to Chicago during the first half of Sunday; by Sunday night on Monday, the system will have retreated to New England.

This can make for some slow travel between cities such as Charlotte, Raleigh, Washington, DC, and New York City. Boston, Providence and Hartford will be hardest hit after dark.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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