Heavy and steady rain could complicate plans for Thanksgiving travelers and Black Friday shoppers as a powerful storm is expected to sweep across much of the southern U.S. beginning Thursday night.
Parts of Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas were already covered in rain Thursday afternoon, and another series of showers is expected tomorrow, meteorologists say.
The massive system is also expected to bring snow to eastern New Mexico and western Texas.
The day-long storm is being driven by a ball of low pressure that settled over southeastern New Mexico after traversing the Rocky Mountains, National Weather Service meteorologist Marc Chenard told US TODAY.
“As the system dipped south and east over the Rocky Mountains, it kind of got more intense,” Chenard said.
Normally, similar weather systems move with the jet streams, traveling rapidly across the country from west to east, Chenard said. But that system “separated from the northern current” and “because it was no longer connected to that western current, it slowed down and kind of shut itself off and became this closed low that we’re seeing.”
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.
“This is quite a heavy snowfall for southeastern New Mexico, some areas could be close to November records with this system,” he said.
The weather service warned travelers in New Mexico and Texas on Thursday morning. say on twitter“Make sure you plan ahead if you’re going as roads and especially bridges and overpasses are likely to become slippery and dangerous.”
Farther east, travelers and holiday shoppers have been warned there could be delays due to flooding from rain.
From Thursday through Sunday, an area spanning the entire Southeast could get four to six inches of rain, with the rainiest spots potentially being hit with up to 12 inches, AccuWeather forecasters predicted.
“As the storm develops Thursday through Friday, rain will fill some rain gauges in the lower Mississippi Valley and Southeast, particularly from east Texas to north Georgia, in the state of South Carolina and western North Carolina,” said Bill Deger, senior meteorologist at AccuWeather.
After Thursday’s downpour, states in the southeast will face a second round of rain, F, Chenard said.
“It’s reloading and there will be another round tomorrow,” he said.
The risk of flash flooding is highest in southeast Texas, according to forecasts by the National Weather Service. People traveling to parts of Louisiana should also take care to avoid flooded roads, Chenard said.