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Heavy rain, high winds to play havoc with weekend travel on Eastern Seaboard

By Alex Sosnowski, Accuweather.com
People along the Interstate 95 corridor, especially from Philadelphia (pictured, 2012), New York City and Boston, should monitor the upcoming storm system, which will bring steady, soaking rain for a time on Sunday before high winds join in with the heavy rain from Sunday night into Monday morning. File Photo by John Anderson/UPI
People along the Interstate 95 corridor, especially from Philadelphia (pictured, 2012), New York City and Boston, should monitor the upcoming storm system, which will bring steady, soaking rain for a time on Sunday before high winds join in with the heavy rain from Sunday night into Monday morning. File Photo by John Anderson/UPI | License Photo

As a storm intensifies and travels northeastward, a swath of heavy rain and increasing winds will profoundly impact travel in the eastern part of the United States from Saturday night to Monday, AccuWeather meteorologists warn. Localized flooding is likely along with the risk of regional power outages.

Heavy rain may lead to street flooding and ponding along highways with poor drainage as 1-2 inches of rain is predicted to fall across a broad area in 12 hours or less. Pockets where 2-4 inches of rain will fall will extend over the southern and central Appalachians and from eastern upstate New York state all the way through central Maine.

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"There are 2-4 inches of water locked up in the snowpack across the Green and White Mountains of New England," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Adam Douty said. "The heavy rain, in addition to water released by melting snow, could have the effect of 4-8 inches of rain falling, which will greatly increase the stream and river flooding threat across portions of Vermont and New Hampshire."

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Rare December thunderstorms may accompany the rain in the East, including in the Southeastern states. However, localized high winds are in store with and without thunder and lightning. The strongest winds will be along the Atlantic coast and especially in the Northeast.

Not only will winds become strong enough to knock over trees and break off large limbs, but regional power outages are likely. Some roads will be blocked by debris, and property damage is possible along the Eastern Seaboard, especially in the Northeast. Holiday decorations may be damaged or blown away if not securely fastened down.

"People along the 95 corridor, especially from Philadelphia, New York City and Boston, should be monitoring this storm, which will bring steady, soaking rain for a time on Sunday before high winds join in with the heavy rain from Sunday night into Monday morning," AccuWeather Meteorologist Dean DeVore said.

Travel on the roads and around airports will be problematic, especially from late Sunday through Sunday night.

At their peak, winds could gust to 50 mph in Boston and New York City, with higher gusts of 60-70 possible on Long Island and along the southern coast of Massachusetts, including Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. The AccuWeather Local StormMax&trade wind gust is 85 mph.

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"It appears as if the high tide from Sunday night to early Monday may correspond to the time of strongest southerly wind," Douty explained. "Factor this, along with a high astronomical tide associated with the new moon, and we feel coastal flooding is likely along south-facing coasts in southern New England and perhaps the New York City area." A storm surge of 2-3 feet above typical tides is anticipated.

On Sunday, southerly winds will not be at their peak from the storm farther to the south along the Eastern Seaboard. However, the winds will still push some water northward over the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays, which can also lead to flooding. A water level rise of 1-2 feet above normal tides is possible on the northern portions of the mid-Atlantic bays.

"Some rain will linger for the start of the day on Monday in New York City, with gusty winds and heavier rain lingering longer in Boston, "DeVore said.

Any rain showers in Philadelphia, Baltimore or Washington, D.C., will be brief. However, many locations along the Eastern Seaboard, especially those in the Northeast, may still be reeling from heavy rain and high wind for Monday morning's rush hour. Travel delays will likely linger for a time, especially at the airports.

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"The Monday morning commute in the Northeast will be adversely impacted even as the storm begins to pull away," AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said.

"All areas along the I-95 zone should dry out as the afternoon continues with chillier air returning after amazing warmth much of the weekend," DeVore said.

Where the cold air catches up to the backside of the rain in parts of the Appalachians and especially the interior Northeast, several inches to perhaps a foot or more of snow may pile up quickly over the higher elevations.

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