Gusty Storms with Beneficial Rain Aim for Southeast Coast

May 9, 2012; 2:10 PM ET
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With a cold front nearing the Atlantic coastline today, periods of heavy rain will fall across the southeastern United States and provide some relief to drought conditions across many of these areas.

Although the rainfall will be welcome by many with open arms to alleviate some of the drought, it will come with a small price in the form of potentially gusty and damaging thunderstorms.

As the cold front slides towards the east into tonight, it will interact with very warm and moist air surging out of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. It is this air which will provide the necessary fuel to allow showers and thunderstorms to develop along and ahead of the approaching boundary.

RELATED: Crazy Photos of Multiple Gulf Coast Water Spouts

AccuWeather.com meteorologists are primarily concerned that several of these storms may be capable of producing damaging wind gusts strong enough to knock tree limbs down as well as power lines which could lead to brief and temporary power outages.

2:40 p.m. CDT: A water spout moved onshore in Grand Isle, La., downing power lines and causing structural damage. Flying debris was spotted.

"Our neighborhood was hit pretty hard by the thunderstorm on 6/14/09," Flickr user freethehops said. Trees could topple like this one with the strongest wind gusts today.

As is the case with most thunderstorms, frequent cloud-to-ground lightning is expected. Even a few of these thunderstorms could produce small hail.

The thunderstorms will also bring heavy bursts of rain that could bring some locations an inch or two of rain in just a short period of time. Heavy downpours will also lead to reduced visibilities and ponding on roadways as well as localized flash and urban flooding, especially in poor drainage areas.

Shortly after the sun sets, the storms will begin to lose their punch and the threat for gusty winds and small hail will diminish. The cold front igniting the thunderstorms will also shift off the coast tonight.

The area at risk runs from eastern portions of the Carolinas to southern Georgia and Florida. This includes the cities of Wilmington, N.C., Charleston, S.C., Savannah, Ga., and Jacksonville, Fla.

With drought conditions remaining "extreme" to "exceptional" in Georgia, parts of Alabama and northern Florida, an event like todays will not return rainfall levels to normal. However, it will be another small step in the right direction.

The Southeast has been exceptionally dry but the rain today will dent some of the drought.

As AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Dan DePodwin pointed out yesterday, "Yearly rainfall in locations such as Columbia, S.C., and Jacksonville, Fla., is more than 5 inches below average. In Augusta, Ga., the situation is even worse: 7.79 inches below normal."

A strong area of high pressure will build towards the East Coast for the second half of the week, bringing sunny and dry weather as well as some breezy conditions. This high pressure should continue to bring gorgeous weather through the majority of Mother's Day weekend.

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