I-95 Blinding Downpours, Flash Flooding Risk

By , AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist
January 31, 2013; 4:30 AM ET
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A wall of rain and wind that crossed the Appalachians during the day Wednesday have spread across the East Coast and the I-95 corridor through Wednesday night.

The weather conditions accompanying a front will not only mark an end to the brief warmth but can also cause a slew of travel problems. The front has had a history of severe weather over the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee valleys.

A period of drenching, blinding rain pushed from west to east, crossing the Appalachian Mountains, the eastern Great Lakes and the upper Gulf Coast region during the afternoon.

There is the potential for 1.00 to 2.00 inches of rain over a several-hour period. Combined with the terrain in the mountains and the frozen ground over the eastern Great Lakes region, rapid runoff can also lead to flash and small stream flooding.

This is enough rain to cause urban flooding problems in Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Atlanta, Charlotte, Roanoke, Scranton, Washington, D.C., Charleston, S.C., Philadelphia, New York City, Albany, Boston, Raleigh and Norfolk, Va.

The rain began during the evening rush hour along much of the I-95 corridor from New Jersey to South Carolina, causing sudden low visibility, especially when combined with strong wind gusts. Gusts from the storm ranged from 40 to 50 mph in many locations. In some coastal areas and over the ridges, gusts could reach up to 60 mph.

The worst of the rain and wind reached the New York City area and Jacksonville, Fla. during Wednesday night and then central and eastern New England overnight Wednesday into the first thing Thursday morning.

Many wind gusts were strong enough to down tree limbs and cause sporadic power outages.

Motorists and those with flights from the Appalachians to the Atlantic coast should expect delays as the rain and high winds roll eastward. The intensity of the storms is forecast to diminish before reaching central Florida.

The rain and wind mark the first of two pushes of colder air. The first will erase the record warmth Wednesday night in the Appalachians and the East Coast on Thursday. The second will bring two to three days of arctic chill beginning Thursday in the Appalachians and the upper East Coast by Friday. Cooler weather will settle over the Deep South.

For those wondering about spring. AccuWeather.com has released its forecast for the upcoming season.

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