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Southern US at risk for damaging winds, flooding as severe storms arrive on Monday

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A storm ramping up in the central US will push an area of potentially severe weather into the southeastern states for Monday afternoon.

The center of the developing system is predicted to bring strong winds, snow and heavy rain to large swaths of the northern and central Plains. The impacts of this storm will reach southward to the Gulf Coast.

"Severe thunderstorms will likely fire along a potent cold front across eastern Texas, southern Arkansas, and most of Louisiana," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rossio said.

Widespread storm damage possible

While thunderstorms may seem out-of-season, autumn-time outbreaks are not uncommon in the southeastern US and should not be underestimated.

"This area is known for having severe thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes during the fall or early spring," Rossio said. "All the atmospheric ingredients necessary for damaging winds, hail, and even a few tornadoes will be present during the afternoon on Monday."

A widespread tornado outbreak is not expected, but isolated tornadoes cannot be ruled out.

"The most likely bullseye for possible tornadoes will be across northern Louisiana," Rossio said.

Residents should stay up-to-date on local watches and warnings and be aware of any sudden changes in the weather throughout Monday and Monday evening.

"Shreveport and Texarkana should keep a close eye to the sky on Monday," Rossio said.

Powerful thunderstorms could contain damaging wind gusts, while associated heavy rains will bring the threat for flash flooding. Up to 2 inches of rain could fall in a short period of time from any given storm.

Particularly in areas where rain has been scarce, flooding will occur quickly.

Creek beds that have dried during the recent drought could fill suddenly with swiftly moving water. Significant run-off of topsoil is also possible as dry weather has left the soil dusty and has thinned protective foliage cover.

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Low-lying and poor drainage areas will be inundated with water quickly and those on the road should be careful to avoid flooded routes.

Hydroplaning will pose a threat to highway travelers. At high speeds, newly wet roads will be especially slick. Drivers should also be aware of drastically reduced visibilities in areas of heavy rain.

Beneficial for drought, wildfire containment

Strong thunderstorms pose many threats to those in their paths, but the rain will also be beneficial to areas experiencing drought conditions.

In northeastern Louisiana, the city of Monroe has received only 1.83 inches of rain since Oct. 1. Rainfall would normally total almost 9 inches during that time.

Additionally, wildfires continue to rage in the Carolinas and Georgia. As of Nov. 20, national fire officials said there are 44 unconfined fires in the South, covering over 120,000 acres.

Gusty southerly winds ahead of the storms will likely make containment efforts more difficult earlier on Monday.

November 20, 2016. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS's thermal bands, are outlined in red. (Image/NASA)

However, these winds are also expected to help clear smoke out of the interior South, improving local air quality during the early week.

Rain is expected to move through the burning areas on Monday night, which may be extensive enough to aid wildfire containment efforts.

Story written by AccuWeather Meteorologist Faith Eherts.