Rain forecast by the National Weather Service.
Heavy rain has been haunting the central United States over the past week, flooding areas from Houston to Little Rock, Ark. This week, the same stormy weather is headed toward the Southeast.
Flash flood warnings were issued as heavy thunderstorms lashed at the Little Rock area on Saturday night, causing streets to fill with and nearly covering bridges in water across the metro. In a matter of hours, over an inch of rain had fallen in the city and other areas of the region.
Farther south, flood warnings were in effect around the rivers of eastern Texas and western Louisiana. The target of storms is anticipated to gradually shift eastward this week, setting parts of the Southeast in its sights next.
"The main driver over the next two days will be a slow-moving cold front that will travel across the region," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Alex DaSilva. This is likely to bring a very active pattern in terms of stormy weather.
Showers and thunderstorms can continue in cities like New Orleans and Nashville, Tenn., moving into places like Montgomery, Alab., on Sunday, as the front plods through the Southeast. Precipitation can also arrive in Atlanta late in the day or early Sunday night. By Monday, thunderstorms are forecast to extend as far as the Carolinas, affecting Charlotte, N.C, and Tallahassee, Fla.
"While not expected to turn severe, these storms can still produce heavy downpours which can lead to flash flooding," said DaSilva. Flash flooding occurs within six hours of heavy or excessive rainfall, according to the National Weather Service.
This kind of phenomenon is even more likely to occur in places where soil is already saturated, like New Orleans, which received 184 of average rainfall throughout the month of September, when Hurricane Nicholas dumped rain on the area. Even farther north in Nashville, 118 of average rainfall fell last month, and coastal cities like Charleston, S.C., had 121 of average.
"By Tuesday, a dip in the jet stream over Arkansas and Mississippi will help to enhance precipitation across the Southeast," said DaSilva.
This dip is expected to help draw significant moisture from the Gulf of Mexico into the Southeast, resulting in even more flooding concerns. Soupy conditions are in the works across the region as this humid air mass reigns. A tropical feature forecast to develop off the Southeast coast could also amplify the storms, downpours and humidity by midweek, particularly from Florida to the Carolinas.
"By late week, the dip in the jet stream will migrate northward into the Ohio Valley," added DaSilva, explaining that this departure could allow the interior Southeast to dry out. Unfortunately for some, he said, coastal areas may still be dealing with flooding downpours from the nearby tropical disturbance.
Forecasters recommend that residents have a reliable way to receive weather warnings and avoid going into their basements as the deluge ensues. Six inches of water from flash flooding is enough to cause cars to lose control or stall, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Motorists are warned to never drive through flooded roadways and when in doubt, remember the slogan "turn around, don't drown."