Soaking rain, locally severe storms to target southern US through midweek

By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
December 20, 2017, 10:11:46 PM EST

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A storm that will help alleviate abnormal dryness across the southern United States will come with the risk of locally heavy and gusty thunderstorms into Wednesday evening.

The wet weather threatens to dampen those planning to check out Christmas lighting displays and delay motorists and airline passengers eager to get to their holiday destinations.

An area of rain that spread across northeastern Texas into the lower Tennessee Valley on Tuesday and Tuesday night will affect the Carolinas on Wednesday, according to AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.

A severe thunderstorm tracked over Rusk, Texas, on Tuesday evening, and caused power outages across the area.

Although the most extreme drought is occurring across the Arklatex region, pockets of abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions have expanded into the Deep South and southern mid-Atlantic, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

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While helping to cut into the significant precipitation deficits, the rain could be heavy enough to trigger localized incidents of street flooding.

Residents should ensure that all of their holiday lights and power cords are outdoor-approved before the rain begins to reduce the risk of electrocution, fire and a tripped breaker.

Reduced visibility from the downpours threatens to slow travelers along interstates 20, 30, 40, 55, 59, 65, 75 and 85.

Even though power has been restored at Hartsfield–Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, the weather could be a cause for airline delays at midweek.

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Locally heavy and gusty thunderstorms may threaten communities to the south of the steadiest rain.

Other than flash flooding from any heavier downpour, the biggest severe weather threat will be locally gusty winds. Winds reaching over 50 mph can break weak tree limbs, knock down power lines and toss around loose outdoor items will be the primary threat with any storms.

Inflatable holiday decorations should be tied down securely to prevent them from being blown over or away in a gusty storm.

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Drier air will quickly sweep in from west to east spanning into Thursday, but AccuWeather meteorologists anticipate a stormy pattern to resume over the South during the Christmas holiday weekend.

Rain is forecast to return from eastern Texas and northern Louisiana up into the Tennessee River Valley and central Kentucky from Friday into the weekend.

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