Soaking rain, potentially damaging winds to roar across Midwest and Northeast

Alex Sosnowski

A far-reaching storm will impact much of the eastern two-thirds of the nation with an array of impacts ranging from record warmth ahead of the storm, a severe weather outbreak, a treacherous mix of snow and ice and a wind-driven rain that will drench the Midwest into portions of the Northeast this weekend.

As a storm develops over the southern Plains on Friday and travels northeastward this weekend, copious amounts of moisture will be drawn northward from the Gulf of Mexico and deposited in the form of heavy rain.

"While rain began in parts of the Mississippi Valley prior to Friday, the rain is forecast to really ramp up Friday to Saturday morning from eastern Texas to southern Michigan," Courtney Travis, AccuWeather meteorologist, said.

As Saturday progresses, the heavy rain will move eastward across the lower and middle Mississippi Valley to reach the lower Great Lakes region. During Saturday night, locally heavy rainfall will advance across the Tennessee and Ohio valleys before arriving in the central and southern Appalachians.

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"Enough rain can fall to cause rapid small stream and urban flooding," Travis said.

A general 2-4 inches of rain with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 5 inches is anticipated from northeastern Texas to southern Michigan and northern Ohio.

Motorists should expect hazardous conditions on the highways in the heavy rain zone due to low visibility, excess water on the roads and increased stopping distance.

Some rain will still fall on swollen secondary rivers over the South and could prolong the minor to moderate flooding that has been ongoing over the past week. In some cases, a secondary rise can occur on the rivers and bayous in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Tennessee.

On Sunday, the rain will push to the Atlantic coast from northern Florida to Maine, but for much of this swath, the rain will be in the diminishing stages compared to that of the Mississippi Valley.

The duration of the rain will be brief in nature, but it can still fall locally heavy for a couple of hours over the Piedmont, mid-Atlantic and New England.

High winds may lead to power outages, travel disruptions

Because winds near the surface and higher up in the atmosphere will generally be blowing in the same direction, strong winds from aloft will also be drawn down to ground level with stiff sustained speeds and powerful gusts expected.

While severe thunderstorms, some with tornadoes, have the potential to cause damage in the South, the strong wind gusts within the rain squalls will also have the potential to knock over trees, break large tree limbs and lead to power outages from the Ohio Valley and lower Great Lakes region to the coastal Northeast.

A tree toppled by wind fell upon a home in Springfield, Pa., Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. Thousands of utility customers were without power in Pennsylvania as high winds roared through the state, knocking down trees and power lines. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Gusts frequenting 25-45 mph are likely with AccuWeather Local StormMax™ gusts near 60 mph. The highest gusts can occur in open areas, along the shoreline of waterways, over high bridges and over the summits of mountains as well as through gaps in the mountains.

The risk of trees toppling over will be greater where the ground is not frozen and heavy rain has saturated the soil.

The strong winds could lead to significant airline delays and can create a considerable amount of turbulence for passengers.

Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.