Drenching rain to raise flash flood risk in eastern US Friday, Saturday

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Drenching rain will sweep across much of the eastern United States as the week draws to a close and the weekend begins.

The rain will spread across the Southeastern states and into the mid-Atlantic region spanning Friday and Saturday. Rain is likely to reach southern New England Saturday night.

Enough rain can fall on portions of the Southern and mid-Atlantic states, including the southern and central Appalachians, to raise the potential for flash and urban flooding. Travel delays are likely to result.

In rural areas of West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland a mere 1 to 1.50 inches of rain in a few hours is all that is needed to initiate flash flooding. While this condition extends farther north into parts of Pennsylvania and Ohio, the heaviest and steadiest rain is likely to pass just to the south of the storm.

Heavy rainfall on paved areas can overwhelm some storm drains and lead to flooding. Enough rain will fall to cause water to collect in poor drainage areas along some streets, intersections and underpasses with this storm.

Motorists should anticipate poor travel conditions due to heavy rain and poor visibility. Motorists will need to slow down in areas of heavy rain to reduce the risk of hydroplaning. Major highway corridors that will experience heavy rainfall include Interstate 10, I-20, I-40, I-64, I-70, I-77, I-81, I-85 and I-95.

A low cloud ceiling at area airports could lead to airline delays including Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; Philadelphia and New York City.

While warmth will build in the Southern states ahead of the storm, the shield of clouds and rain will suppress temperatures. In many areas of the South, temperatures will climb into the 70s and 80s F on Thursday but will be held to the 60s and 70s F on Friday.

In much of the mid-Atlantic states, temperatures will climb into the 70s ahead of the storm Thursday and Friday but will be held to the 50s and 60s on Saturday.

In the Southeastern states, the brief buildup of warmth ahead of the storm can trigger locally heavy, gusty thunderstorms, ahead of and south of the steadier rain.

Most of the gusty storms will avoid the Florida Peninsula. Part of the Sunshine State was hit hard with heavy thunderstorms and flash flooding on Tuesday into Tuesday night. Isolated downpours can occur over the peninsula through the weekend with the greatest chance of more regional drenching storms on Saturday.

A brief period of above-normal tides and minor coastal flooding can occur at times of high tide centered on Saturday night along the mid-Atlantic coast. An onshore flow from the storm, combined with the impact of the full moon may be enough to push tides 1-2 feet above normal.

It is possible that the heaviest and steadiest rain departs Charlotte in time for the NASCAR All-Star race Saturday evening. The improvement could occur in tine for the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Baltimore, Maryland, on Saturday evening. However, spotty showers may linger at both venues Saturday night. Wet conditions will put a damper on daytime activities leading up to both races.