Weekend tropical threat to heighten flood risk across southeastern US


A resurgence of heavy storms and downpours is expected across the southeastern United States beginning this weekend as a tropical feature brews in the Gulf of Mexico.

Stormy weather has been impacting the region for many days, breaking the recent drought but also producing localized flooding.

"We have been monitoring an area of rain and thunderstorms the past few days that extends from the western Caribbean into Florida and the southeastern U.S.," said AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.

Kottlowski pointed out that sea-surface temperatures are high enough to support some chance for tropical development, but that the chances of an organized tropical system forming are low.

"Our outlook calls for a small chance for tropical development later this week or during the upcoming weekend," Kottlowski said.

tropical rain 5/22
tropical rain 5/22

"Regardless of tropical or non-tropical development, this system will continue to produce heavy rainfall that will lead to flooding over parts of Florida and the Deep South and southeastern U.S. during the next several days," he warned.

Choppy seas could threaten vessels and make for hazardous beach conditions over the holiday weekend, but winds are not expected to strengthen enough to threaten coastal areas or cause widespread damage.

Rip currents and increased wave action could threaten Memorial Day weekend beachgoers.

However, flooding will be the main threat with this feature as tropical moisture continues to stream out of the Gulf.

Tourists hoping to squeeze in time at the beach will need to be especially wary of thunderstorm activity. Florida hosted the most lightning deaths in 2017, and more lightning fatalities have occurred there than in any other state.

Decreased visibility and gusty winds in times of heavy rain and thunderstorms could disrupt travel and cause localized instances of wind damage.

In heavy downpours and storms, travel will slow along major highways such as interstates 95, 75, 20, 10 and 85. Motorists should take care to not try to traverse flooded roadways, as the water may be deeper than it appears or the road underneath could be washed out completely.

Weather extremes such as heavy rain or drought can also lead to sinkhole development, threatening homes, businesses and travel, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Jim Andrews.

Flight delays are possible at major airports such as those in Miami, Orlando and Atlanta through early next week.