Heavy Rain, Flooding, and Chance of Severe Weather Staring Down the Southern U.S.

Posted: January 22, 2024 11:08 am

A steady stream of moisture is going to bring heavy rain and the chance of flooding to the southern U.S. this week, encompassing the Gulf Coast, the south-central U.S., and the Southeast. Here is what you need to know about this upcoming soggy weather pattern.

Total of 4 Inches of Rain in the Forecast for Much of Southern U.S.

Forecasters are warning that some areas across the South could pick up a total of 4 inches of rain over the course of a few days. The persistent rain will come at the hands of strong storms bringing moisture up from the Gulf of Mexico and beyond.

This moisture will combine with a dip in the jet stream that will usher in energy from the West Coast to ignite the rain bands and storms. The arrival of high winds will be the first sign of the impending weather maker on Sunday.

Gusts ranging between 30 and 40 mph are a possibility for a large area of the southern Plains and to the north, whipping around cities such as Oklahoma City, Wichita, Kansas City, and up through Minneapolis. Although the mercury will begin to climb in the northern fringe of the storm system when compared to the values recorded to end the work week and start the weekend, the onset of the high winds will result in real feel readings remaining on the frigid side.

You can expect the rain machine to fire up late Sunday as the moist air from the Gulf of Mexico migrates to the north. Unfortunately, temperatures hovering around the freezing mark for a significant portion of the southern Plains will create the risk of freezing rain and ice.

The areas most likely to see this ice will be in the zone from northeastern Texas and up through Illinois. This potential impact zone includes Oklahoma City, Little Rock, and St. Louis. Rising temperatures throughout the day Monday will erase the threat of lingering freezing precipitation as the moisture changes over to straight rain.

How Much Rain to Expect

The forecast is calling for widespread rainfall accumulation between 2 and 4 inches in an area stretching from central and eastern Texas and into the Southeast and parts of the Appalachians. Houston will be under the gun for periodic storms over the next few days. The city is forecast to pick up 1 to 2 inches of rain on Monday alone with the threat of thunderstorms lingering on Tuesday and Wednesday. Temperatures will bounce around in the mid 60s to low 70s for highs during this time period. The heavy rain will also trigger the risk of flooding throughout the metro area.

Other areas forecast to see heavy rainfall that could lead to flooding include central portions of Louisiana and Mississippi, the northeastern corner of Alabama, and up into southwest Tennessee. On the far eastern side of the storm, places such as Birmingham, Alabama can expect to see the rain move in late Monday night and intensify on Tuesday and Wednesday. The chance of severe weather is in the forecast for the city on Wednesday and Thursday as the energy from the west pushes through and mixes with the moisture. Rain showers will linger into next weekend even after the threat of stormy conditions abate at the end of the work week.

The moisture will pad the high monthly rainfall totals for a number of cities along the Gulf Coast such as Mobile and Tallahassee. Houston has also already recorded rainfall that has exceeded the typical amount received in January. For instance, Houston Hobby Airport has recorded 4.22 inches of rain since the beginning of the year, topping the historical average for January of 4.09 inches. This week’s rain event will only increase this measurement further.

The silver lining of this wet and disruptive weather pattern is that the moisture will likely help to boost water levels across the Mississippi River in the lower part of the valley. This part of the nation has been facing extreme to exceptional drought levels as defined by the official reporting form the U.S. Drought Monitor. Any amount of moisture will help to chip away at the drought conditions across Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and western Tennessee.

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