Beneficial Rain Spreading Through Parts of the South and East Impacted by Drought, But Will Also Bring the Risk of Flooding

Linda Lam
Published: February 11, 2018

More beneficial rain will spread across drought areas of the South and East on Sunday, but it could be too much of a good thing in some areas.

An active weather pattern, courtesy of a trough – or southward dip in the jet stream – over the central and eastern U.S., is allowing multiple disturbances to spread rain across the South and East.

(MORE: Wildfire Outlook is Bad News for Late-Winter and Spring in Plains, Southwest)

This pattern has already brought two rounds of rain to the region since last weekend. Several cities in the South received more than three inches of rainfall from these systems including, Jackson, Mississippi (4.3 inches), Birmingham, Alabama (3.98 inches), Atlanta (3.11 inches).

The latest round of rain, associated with Winter Storm Mateo, is hauling moisture in from the Gulf of Mexico.

Current Radar and Warnings

On Sunday, pockets of moderate to heavy rain will persist from the Southeast northeastward to the mid-Atlantic. Heavy rain will also be advancing into southern New England. 

(FORECAST: Raleigh | Atlanta | NashvilleNew Orleans | Shreveport, Louisiana)

Mateo's cold front will likely linger in the Southeast into early this week, allowing the chance of rain to persist.

This will result in a soggy forecast for much of the region over the next several days.

Five-Day Forecast

A widespread area of 1 to 3 inches of rain is anticipated through Tuesday in parts of the South, although it should be noted that the bulk of this rain will fall on Sunday.

Rainfall Forecast

Flooding is possible from parts of the Southeast northward through the central Appalachians into the mid-Atlantic and far southeast New England on Sunday. The National Weather Service has issued flood watches for parts of those regions.

Spotty areas of flooding have been reported in eastern Kentucky and West Virginia since Saturday night, inundating some roads.

Current Flood Watches and Warnings

Growing Drought Concerns

Despite the flood risk, this is much-needed rainfall in many parts of the region since drought conditions have expanded since the fall. La Niña has been in place this winter, and drier-than-average conditions are typically expected in the southern tier of the U.S. in a La Niña winter. 

(MORE: Is La Niña's Thumbprint This Winter a Growing Southern Drought?)

The Southeast region, which encompasses the area from Alabama and Florida into Virginia, was drought-free in early fall. However, as of Feb. 6, almost 38 percent was in drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. There has actually been some improvement over the last two week thanks to the recent rounds of rainfall.

The rain last weekend has resulted in an area in central Alabama that was in the extreme drought category to improve one category to severe drought.

Areas in yellow indicate abnormally dry conditions, while areas in darker yellow are in moderate drought, orange areas are in severe drought and red in extreme drought.

Unfortunately, little if any rain has fallen farther west. The South, defined as the area from Texas and Oklahoma into Mississippi and Tennessee, has continued to see the drought grow. Almost 62 percent of this region is now in drought, with 33 percent in severe drought and over 11 percent in the extreme drought category.

(MORE: Parts of Texas Have Been Drier Than Death Valley This Winter)

Consequently, this upcoming wet weather pattern is good news for the Southeast and eastern portions of the South and should alleviate some drought conditions.

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