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Spring storminess strikes the South

Surface weather map forecast for evening on Apr. 7, 2014.  Insert shows weather warnings early on Apr. 7, 2014.
Surface weather map forecast for evening on Apr. 7, 2014. Insert shows weather warnings early on Apr. 7, 2014.

During the past three months, including the snowstorm that struck Minnesota and Wisconsin the other day, large-scale storm systems have been noted for their excessive wintry weather. Today’s weather maker is finally ushering in real spring weather, with a combined heavy rainfall – severe weather threat.

On Saturday, a few severe thunderstorms rumbled across the immediate Gulf Coast. Sunday (Apr. 6, 2014) into early this Monday morning, nearly 50 severe storms struck, including 9 reported tornadoes. Today, severe storms (slight risk) are expected to extend from Alabama and Georgia northeastward into southeastern Virginia. The risk for severe storms will be greatest where dew points rise to above 55 degrees. In coastal North Carolina, surface dew points have risen from the low to mid 30’s yesterday morning to near 60 degrees this morning.

The area to be affected lies in the “warm sector” of a low-pressure (storm) system that is moving rapidly northeastward from western Tennessee (Fig. 1). The storm should reach northern New York State by later tonight.

Over the weekend, especially during the past 12 hours, torrential rains have fallen, mainly across Alabama. There were widespread reports (and radar indications) of 3 inches or more across the state. There were many places at which six inches or more were reported.

Not surprisingly, small creeks have gone into flood quickly. Many underpasses, especially in urban centers, were also flooded. News reports indicated that several deep water and flood rescues were in progress early this morning.

As the day unfolds, the storm system will accelerate to the northeast. This will lessen the potential for torrential rainfall across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. However, heavy rain, expected to fall across some still snow-packed areas of down east Maine, has prompted the issuance of a flood watch for rain-snowmelt flooding later tonight into Tuesday.

Obviously, the weather will bring flight delays and cancellations from Alabama and Georgia northeastward today and tonight. However, another impact will involve the Washington, DC Cherry Blossom Festival. Some of the early blooms will likely be ripped from the trees by gusty winds and heavy rainfall (as usual).

© 2014 H. Michael Mogil

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