Heavy rain and severe thunderstorms could lead to damaging winds and flooding this weekend as a rapidly developing low pressure system moves to the southeast. This same system could also bring snow to Georgia on Sunday morning as temperatures drop behind the cold front.
“Heavy rain, strong winds and possibly severe thunderstorms are expected to spread across the southeast on Saturday,” the Weather Forecast Center said.
A level 2 of 5 threat for severe thunderstorms was issued for Saturday in parts of northern Florida where strong to damaging winds and isolated tornadoes are possible. Cities at risk include Tallahassee, Gainesville and Jacksonville. There is also a tier 1 threat to Tampa, Orlando and Spring Hill, Florida.
“Winds will also be a concern given the strength of the low pressure system, said the National Weather Bureau in Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina. “There is also the potential for gravity waves to help force stronger winds to the surface.”
Wind gusts are expected along the spine of the southern and central Appalachians, which can reach 40 mph.
In addition to the severe threat, a level 2 out of 4 risk for excessive rainfall was recorded in parts of northern Florida, southeastern Georgia and South Carolina. Flooding is possible from Birmingham, Alabama to Wilmington, North Carolina to Gainesville, Florida. Widespread precipitation totals through Sunday are expected to be between 2 and 3 inches, but some locally higher amounts of 4 to 6 inches are possible in northern Florida, including Tallahassee, and southern Georgia, including Valdosta.
Many southern cities, including Tallahassee and Atlanta, are at risk of flooding due to soil already being saturated from recent rains and the start of the wet year.
Since January, Atlanta and Macon, Georgia, and Columbia, South Carolina have had an excess of 2 to 4 inches of rain. This will allow water saturation and runoff to occur more quickly than under normal conditions.
“Through Saturday night and Sunday morning, heavy snow and/or sleet is expected to develop near/over the central and southern Appalachians, at which point the low pressure system is expected to intensify further and track close to off the Carolina coast,” the forecast center said.
Winter weather warnings are in effect for parts of western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, western Virginia and eastern Kentucky through Sunday.
Snow accumulation is usually up to 4 inches, but higher elevations like Mount Mitchell in North Carolina have the potential to see up to a foot.
A few squalls of snow will mix with rain at lower elevations, although accumulations are expected to remain light.
“There continues to be good agreement on the change from rain to snow in the mountains,” the Greenville-Spartanburg office said. “There even appears to be potential for a brief period of snow off the mountains late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. The North Carolina foothills would be in a transition zone where it is possible to accumulate some snow.”
The weather service’s office also stresses that while this setup may be fine for winter precipitation, the lack of cold air to kick off the weekend is the limiting factor. In other words, the snow forecast is uncertain, but the potential is there.
Snow isn’t the only concern for the region – ice can also pose hazards on weekend trips.
“(We) will also have mixed winter precipitation, with some light, freezing rain and hail adding to the travel impact but decreasing the total snow potential,” said the National Weather Service office in Blacksburg, Virginia.
Even places as far south as Georgia can see some snow, though I don’t get my hopes up that it sticks to the ground.
“It is becoming increasingly likely that parts of northern Georgia will see a mix of rain and melting snow through Sunday morning,” the National Weather Service’s office in Atlanta said. “It is possible for the snow that falls to be thick at times, however, with surface temperatures around 30 degrees there can be a big difference in the amount of snow that FALLS, and the amount of snow that WEIGH as accumulations can melt. quickly. ”