Tropical downpours to inundate southern US with over a month's worth of rain into Monday
By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
June 09, 2019, 9:46:47 AM EDT
Despite helping to ease drought conditions, tropical downpours will raise flooding concerns and ruin outdoor plans as over a month's worth of rain is unleashed across the South into early week.
The same storm system that linked up with tropical moisture and dumped more than a foot of rain in portions of the south-central United States is crawling eastward.
While drier conditions have spread into waterlogged Oklahoma City and Houston, flooding dangers are expanding into other metro areas, such as Atlanta; Nashville; Tallahassee, Florida; Columbia, South Carolina; and Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina.
Widespread repeating downpours will hit these cities and neighboring communities into at least Monday.
"There is the potential for 4-8 inches of rain and locally higher amounts to near a foot centered over the southern Appalachians and Piedmont areas," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.
Such totals are more than double and close to triple typical June rainfall in some areas.
On Sunday morning, Mayor Lee E Moritz, Jr. of Conover, North Carolina, declared a state of emergency along with Catawba County due to flooding.
"Athens, Georgia, reported 1.59 inches of rain from noon to 1 p.m. EDT on Saturday with nearly an inch of that falling in just 20 minutes," AccuWeather Senior Television Broadcaster Justin Povick said.
A National Weather Service (NWS) spotter measured 4.63 inches of rain in two hours on Saturday south-southwest of Rolesville, North Carolina, which is located to the north of Raleigh. Radar estimates indicate that nearly double that amount inundated communities to the east of Rolesville.
Outside of Florida, rainfall for the month of June averages 3.5-5.5 inches across the Southeastern states.
While the rainfall is good news for those tired of watering lawns and gardens amid abnormally dry to severe drought conditions, heavy rain is falling too quickly and triggering flash flooding.
On Saturday morning, emergency management reported flash flooding with several road closures in the Callaway area of Franklin County, Virginia. The area has been inundated with 3-6 inches of rain since Friday. Up to half of that rain fell on Saturday morning alone.
Farther south, officials had to perform water rescues along the Interstate-40 corridor near Raleigh, North Carolina, due to motorists driving into flooded areas, according to the NWS office in the city.
On NC 27, three people died Saturday evening in Lincolnton, North Carolina, after a vehicle hydroplaned off the road, hit a tree and overturned into a rising creek amid heavy rain according to The Charlotte Observer.
Over 1.80 inches of rain fell in less than 20 minutes in Hickory, North Carolina, on Friday evening. There were numerous reports of water rescues and vehicles stalled in high water across western and central North Carolina. Southeastern Virginia also got hit hard with flooding downpours late Friday.
"Enough rain to trigger more small stream flooding can occur," Sosnowski said. Rockslides are also possible in the higher terrain.
Motorists planning on traveling through the affected region should allow plenty of extra time for travel, as some roads and bridges may become impassable.
Never attempt to drive through a flooded roadway. Instead, turn around and find a safer alternate route.
Poor visibility due to heavy rain and standing water can lead to very slow travel, including on large stretches of interstates 10, 20, 22, 40, 55, 59, 65, 75, 85 and 95.
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Air travelers should be ready to face significant flight delays at airports serving cities such as Atlanta, Nashville and Charlotte.
While most of the heaviest rainfall will stay north of the Florida Peninsula, an uptick in drenching thunderstorms can have amusement park goers running for cover at times.
Localized severe storms may pose further risks to lives and property.
"Isolated tornadoes and waterspouts can occur near and just offshore of the Gulf Coast," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rathbun said.
Gusty, locally damaging thunderstorms can be embedded within the downpours elsewhere across the South into Monday.
The wet conditions are forecast to expand slowly into the Northeast early in the new week, spoiling a much-welcome stretch of dry weather.
Drier air will sweep across the lower Mississippi Valley into Monday, but the rainy weather will hold stubbornly on farther east.
"A second storm may move slowly northward across the region during the middle and latter part of the week, prolonging the downpours," Sosnowski said.
Download the free AccuWeather app for the latest forecast for your area. Keep checking back for updates on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.
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