Stalled Frontal Zone to Dump Rain and Increase Flooding Risk in the South

Posted: July 20, 2021 11:23 am

Persistent Rain Also Keeping High Temperatures Below Average

Although it may be starting to dry out in the Northeast, now it is the Southeast that is being socked in with moisture. Forecasters are warning that this weather pattern setting up across the South this week will increase the risk of flooding throughout the region.

Slow-moving Storms to Blame

The reason for the flooding concerns is that this particular weather pattern will feature slow-moving storms that may stall out over a large area. Up to one foot of rain may drench the hardest-hit regions, bringing the threat of widespread flooding. While most summer storms simply fire up and then move on quickly, a stalled frontal zone will make it possible for this rain to stick around for days. The presence of weak steering winds will also make it more likely that the storms crawl through the region.

As the grounds become more saturated, the risk of flooding will increase in the days that follow. Some storms will bring the potential of up to three inches of rain in just one hour, making it easy to understand how river banks and streams may become swollen to the point of overflow.

Where the Storms Will Hit

A large swath of land will be affected by this stalled frontal zone, putting millions of Americans in the way of torrential rains. The bulk of the storms are forecast to hover over Interstates 10, 20, and 40, stretching all the way from eastern Oklahoma and southeastern Texas into the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida. This zone also includes the majority of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

How Long Will the Storms Last?

The storms are expected to continue through Thursday for much of the South. Forecasters are hopeful that the pocket of cooler air that is sitting aloft right now may break up later in the week. This will allow high pressure to start to build over the northwestern Gulf Coast.

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The breakup of this cool air should be enough disruption to temper some of the storm activity along the Texas coast and into Louisiana. However, these storms may still ignite in the areas where the cool air is still aloft. This includes central Texas and in areas farther east, such as Georgia, the Carolinas, and the northern tier of Florida.

Relief from Temperatures

While there is no doubt that it has been a wet summer for much of the eastern half of the US, the persistent rain and thunderstorms as of late have worked to keep temperatures down to a more tolerable level throughout much of Texas and the Gulf Coast. This is because the storms have delivered the rain needed to moisten the soil to the point that more of the sun’s energy is evaporated instead of heating the ground and the air in the process.

For example, although Dallas generally sees 17 days in the triple digits during the summer, the city has not seen 100 degrees yet this year. The lower-than-average temperatures in the Southeast are in direct contrast to the sizzling weather in the Northeast, Midwest, and the West.

Wet Grounds Pose a Problem for Potential Hurricane Activity

One of the biggest risks of this continual rain is that the peak of hurricane season is quickly approaching. Although the Atlantic basin has been fairly quiet over the last week, the 2021 hurricane season is still more active than usual. This may spell trouble for the weeks and months ahead if the hurricane and tropical storm activity ramp up in areas that have already been inundated with rain