AccuWeather meteorologists said tracking a storm across the southern United States will produce heavy rain that will disrupt post-Thanksgiving travel and could lead to urban flooding in Houston, Atlanta and New Orleans. The same storm will also unleash months’ worth of snow on the higher elevations of New Mexico and western Texas this Thanksgiving weekend.
Rain will be the most prevalent disincentive to travel in the region. Thunderstorms are likely to be locally heavy and gusty, but any severe weather is likely to be isolated. The bulk of the rain will come from a complex storm system in two primary tours for most areas with a break of dry weather lasting about 24 hours in between.
A wide area of 2 to 4 inches of rain is expected from central Texas to southern Mississippi and the Florida Panhandle through Saturday, with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ 12 inches likely in southeast Texas and/or southwest Louisiana. Additional rain will fall farther east during the latter part of the weekend, with an average of 1-2 inches in parts of Georgia and the Carolinas.
After the first round of precipitation on Thanksgiving Day from eastern Texas into the lower Mississippi River Valley, rain and thunder will push east into much of the Southeast on Friday, potentially hindering the start of post-holiday travel.
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However, before the first batch of rain and thunderstorms move off the Atlantic coast, the next round associated with the major storm will gather moisture over the southern plains on Friday. Precipitation will increase in central and eastern Texas at the end of the week, but an area of snow will expand over western Texas and eastern and central New Mexico through Friday.
Heavy snow is likely along the Texas-New Mexico border across parts of southeastern New Mexico through early Saturday.
Parts of this region average less than 10 inches of snow annually, so receiving 6 to 12 inches of snow all from one storm can be significant.
A little snow around El Paso, Texas and the surrounding hills can’t be ruled out. El Paso averages only 2.8 inches of snow annually.
Motorists should be prepared for slippery travel along Interstates 10, 20, and 40, as well as US Route 283 in West Texas. In New Mexico, winter travel is likely via portions of Route 283, I-25, and I-40. Road conditions will range from wet to slushy and even snow covered in some areas.
As this main part of the storm begins northeastward from Friday into Saturday, a new batch of rain will move slowly. While the intensity of this rain will vary from location to location in the Southern states, a new round of poor visibility and puddles is likely to occur on highways along corridors between States 10, 20 and 40.
Heavy rain and thunderstorms will shift from eastern Texas and Oklahoma to Louisiana and Arkansas on Saturday, to Mississippi, the Florida Panhandle, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and western Georgia Saturday night.
Before expanding to the northeast, heavy rain will spread across the rest of Georgia and the Carolinas on Sunday. Most areas from Mississippi and western Tennessee in the west to Oklahoma and Texas are likely to dry as some sunshine returns on Sunday. West-to-east clearing is also likely in southeastern states, but this could take until Sunday evening to reach the I-95 corridor.
After unsettled conditions with rain and thunderstorms this past week, most of Peninsula Florida may avoid the bulk of the rain from the storm system from Friday through Sunday, which is good news for post-hurricane clean-ups as well as those vacationing during the Thanksgiving holiday. But because the storm will hit northern regions to close the weekend, rain and poor visibility could delay flights at destination points, especially in the northeast.
Aside from the risk of travel disruptions from the double-barreled storm, rain and snow will spell another part of a long-term drought across much of the region. It may fall enough rain to cause a slight to moderate rise in water levels in the lower Mississippi River. The very low water levels since mid-summer have hampered the operations of barges in the waterway.
Since the cold Canadian air won’t follow the storm, as the sun’s rays return, temperatures will bounce back to near-average levels in late November from Sunday through Tuesday. This warm-up could help fuel thunderstorms and the potential for severe weather as the next storm system crosses the central states on Tuesday and Wednesday.
AccuWeather meteorologists have already begun raising awareness of severe weather risks more than a week in advance and will provide updates on the potential in the coming days.
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