Regular heavy rains could complicate the plans of Thanksgiving travelers and Black Friday shoppers, as a huge storm is expected to sweep across much of the southern United States starting Thursday evening.
Parts of Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas were already blanketed in rain Thursday afternoon and another round of downpours are expected tomorrow, forecasters said.
The massive system is also expected to bring snow to eastern New Mexico and western Texas.
The one-day storm is driven by a ball of low pressure that settled over southeastern New Mexico after crossing the Rocky Mountains, National Weather Service meteorologist Marc Chenard told USA TODAY.
“As the system plunged south and east through the Rocky Mountains, that’s when it kind of intensified,” Chenard said.
Usually, similar weather systems move with jet streams and move rapidly from west to east across the country, Chenard said. But that system “separated from the northerly flow” and “because it was no longer connected to that westerly flow, it slowed down and kind of closed off and became this closed depression that we see “.
As a result, parts of New Mexico and Texas could see four to eight inches of snow Thursday night, the National Weather Service said.
The more isolated snowfall is a relatively extreme event for the region, Chenard said.
“It’s pretty heavy snow for southeastern New Mexico, some areas could approach November records with this system,” he said.
The Weather Service on Thursday morning warned travelers from New Mexico and Texas, say on twitter“Be sure to plan ahead if you are traveling as the roads, and especially bridges and overpasses, will likely become slippery and dangerous.”
Further east, travelers and holiday shoppers have been warned delays could occur due to rain-induced flooding.
From Thursday to Sunday, an area stretching across the southeast could get four to six inches of rain, with the wettest spots up to 12 inches, AccuWeather forecasters predicted.
“As the storm evolves Thursday through Friday, rain will fill some gauges in the lower Mississippi Valley and the Southeast, particularly from eastern Texas to northern Georgia, upstate Carolina southern and western North Carolina,” said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Bill Deger.
After Thursday’s downpour, southeastern states will get a second round of F rain dumped on them, Chenard said.
“It will reload and there will be another round going tomorrow,” he said.
The risk of flash flooding is highest in southeast Texas, according to National Weather Service forecasts. People traveling to parts of Louisiana should also be careful to avoid flooded roads, Chenard said.