The area of high pressure that has been in place over the Southeastern United States is yielding to the east and as it fades from our region that opens the door for more rain. The persistent flow of rain into the area from the south and west will continue today and into early Friday. At times there will be rounds of heavy rain Thursday and the potential exists for some gusty winds to accompany the rain, especially in Southside. There are a number of issues associated with this lengthy event that will be problematic for the Commonwealth.
The primary concern is the amount of rain that will lead to flooding. The region is very topographically diverse as we all know and the type of flooding will vary from region to region. The mountainous terrain will see a good chance for Flash Flooding as the heavy rain and runoff channel toward lower elevated locations and quickly overwhelm them. The lowland regions are susceptible to flooding of wide areas such as fields and farms. There is also the creeks and streams that will all run fast and full so be aware of rising waters in your area. The final concern is the larger rivers, such as the Dan and the James, that will be receiving all of this rain. Flood stages will be realized by late Thursday and the receding waters will take until at least Saturday to drop below flood stage.
Also, there is the fact that the ground is partially frozen just below the surface as we are still in February. This will allow the water to run off at a much faster pace than if the soils were not solid in spots. The flooding potential is increased due to this issue. There is also the cumulative impact of the rain that we are dealing with this week. The rain has been soaking into the semi-frozen soils for the past 36 or so hours filling up the water table. The heavy rain that is slated for Thursday will easily run off and lead to the flooding potential being even higher.
The next concern is the potential for gusty winds near the storms, mainly in Southside. The gusty winds will push over trees or at least break some limbs leading to them falling on power lines. Power outages are possible in the area due this feature of the rain event. Lightning is also possible Thursday in some Piedmont locations, so we also have that to contend with at times. The Storm Prediction Center has placed our Southeast Piedmont locations in the Marginal Risk for Severe Storms Thursday with gusty winds the main concern. Halifax county is included in the Slight Risk Category, but only the extreme southeast portion.
Overall the rain should come to an end on Friday morning with the front passing overnight. There will be a blustery day on Friday with some limbs and trees being compromised at times. The NW flow of wind will also be able to generate snow on west facing slopes of the Alleghany Range, so travel will be an issue on 64 and 77 at times.
Saturday will be interesting as some models are looking at a weak impulse driving in from the west. This may produce some light rain and overnight snow into Sunday morning. Not much, but enough to make the roads slick for early Sunday. The rest of the day Sunday should be quiet and rain will be on hold until late Monday.
Off and on rain and mountain snow is likely through next week.
Please be mindful of the rising water Thursday and into Friday, this will be a significant amount of water falling on the ground. Some estimated rainfall amounts are in the 2 – 4” range west of the Parkway and 3 – 5” over the Piedmont. That is a lot of rain.
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