Large swath of US braces for flooding, strong winds, heavy rains and snow

  • High winds may cause property damage, power outages and travel disruptions.
  • Significant coastal flooding likely in the northeastern U.S.
  • Rain to end as snow in many areas.

A complex storm will gain strength as it affects areas from the Great Lakes to the northeastern United States with strong winds, coastal flooding, heavy rain and a change to snow to end this week.

The same storm system set to bring a new round of severe thunderstorms and flooding to part of the South Central states will cause major travel disruptions and may have damaging consequences all the way to the New England and the upper mid-Atlantic coast.

The advancing and developing storm will mark an end to a couple of days of dry weather.


Storm to blast Midwest first

Rain will spread northeastward from the Tennessee and lower Mississippi Valley to much of the Ohio Valley, lower Great Lakes, central Appalachians and the mid-Atlantic region on Thursday.

Enough rain may fall to aggravate the flooding situation in the Midwest. Many rivers in the region are above flood stage. Some are at moderate or major flood stage.

Rain will transition to accumulating snow from west to east over the lower Great Lakes during Thursday and Thursday night.

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Storm impacts to spread into the northeastern US

A general 1-3 inches of snow is forecast from southeastern Minnesota and northeastern Iowa to western and central New York state and northern and western Pennsylvania during Thursday night.

Rain and snow will overtake much of New England.

As the storm strengthens, winds will increase dramatically over the Midwest and Northeast Thursday night and Friday.

Winds are likely to get strong enough to lead to major airline delays from Chicago to Detroit, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City and Boston. Winds may cause trouble for some flights as far south as Atlanta and Charlotte, North Carolina.

The wind is expected to become strong enough to break weak tree limbs and cause sporadic power outages.

"Strong winds over the Great Lakes will cause large waves and may cause ice to break up and move toward shore on lakes Michigan, Erie, Huron and Ontario," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Jake Sojda.

Lakeshore flooding is also a concern along the southern shorelines.


Storm to become a potent nor'easter

As the storm moves into the Northeastern states, it will get another boost in strength as it reorganizes off the coast of southern New England during Thursday night and Friday. At this point, the storm may become a formidable nor'easter.

This is likely to become the strongest storm since the bomb cyclone from early January. There have not been many strong storms to affect the Northeast since early January.

While this storm will fall well short of that storm's intensity and will not be as cold, it will still pack a wallop in the Northeast, especially in southern and central New England. 

People from Long Island to Maine should expect coastal flooding from the storm. The flooding will be the worst at times of high tide and made worse because of the full moon, which occurs on Thursday evening.

"Eastern Massachusetts to southern Maine is likely to experience the worst of the wind and coastal flooding from this storm," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.

Tides are likely to run 2-4 feet above normal and may be as much as 5 feet above normal at peak in southeastern New England if the storm strengthens to its full potential.

Offshore, seas are expected to build to 20-30 feet with occasionally higher waves. Small craft should remain in port during this storm.

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The first part of the storm will bring torrential rain to much of southern New England and the upper part of the mid-Atlantic. The intense rainfall alone may lead to significant disruptions in the heavily-traveled Interstate-95 corridor, mainly from Philadelphia on north to Boston.

As the storm strengthens over the nearby Atlantic Ocean, colder air will be drawn in and snow will advance toward the coast on Friday.

"Drenching rain and urban flooding issues will be followed by accumulating snow in the central Appalachians and perhaps farther to the east across central New England," Anderson said.

Areas from southwestern Ontario to western and central New York state have the potential for a 6- to 12- inch snowfall. This includes the Catskill Mountains in eastern New York state. Several inches may fall on the Poconos, Berkshires, Green, White, Adirondacks and Alleghenies. The hills in northern New Jersey are also likely to pick up a few inches of snow.

"Wet snow will probably mix near the end of the storm from Philadelphia to New York City and Boston," Anderson said.

However, for there to be a few inches of snow in these cities, conditions would have to evolve perfectly.

It is possible wet snow mixes in at the end as far south as Washington, D.C., but more likely dry air will just sweep in.

In the wake of the storm, blustery and cold conditions are in store Friday night and Saturday. During this time, winds may remain strong enough to continue to cause airline delays from Georgia to Maine.

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