Much of the eastern third of the nation will be drenched by two rounds of rain this week.
A storm anchored over the Upper Midwest will pump warm air and moisture northward from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean through Thursday.
"The rounds of rain will be significant and result in a thorough soaking from much of the Appalachians to part of the Atlantic coast," according to AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.
"The rain will bring benefits to drought-stricken areas in the South and the Northeast," Pastelok said.
Downpours will also lead to travel hazards.
Portions of the Ohio and Tennessee valleys will catch one round of rain into Tuesday morning.
A general 1-2 inches of rainfall is likely with local amounts to 3 inches from the lower Mississippi Valley to the southern Appalachians. The rainfall deficit for the year is 12-24 inches in much of this swath.
While much more rain will be needed to have major impact on the southern drought, the wet conditions will saturate the dry brush, which will make it harder for new fires to start. Enough rain may fall to help extinguish the fires.
In addition to the risk of locally severe thunderstorms in the South, some highways may be extra slick, due to the lack of enough rain in recent months to wash away oil from road surfaces. Motorists should reduce their speed on the highways and at intersections and allow extra distance between vehicles.
The first batch of rain will expand quickly from the central and southern Appalachians to the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts during Tuesday.
Rainfall of 0.50 to 1 inch is likely in most places with local amounts to 2 inches in the Northeast.
Motorists should be on the lookout for poor drainage flooding. Airline delays are possible due to a low cloud ceiling and gusty winds for a time from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia, New York City and Boston.
Rainfall that is more spotty in nature will reach the southern Atlantic coast on Tuesday as well.
A second batch of rain will spring around the Gulf Coast during Tuesday evening. A general 1-2 inches of rain is likely from the central Gulf Coast to southern New England.
This new batch will spread rapidly northeastward across the interior South and eastern parts of the Ohio Valley and the Appalachians during late Tuesday night and Wednesday and then to the coastal Northeast by Wednesday evening.
In addition to additional benefits to drought areas, the second batch of rain could also lead to another round of travel delays along the Interstate 81, I-85, I-77 and I-95 corridors, including the major airports from Atlanta to Boston.
The second batch of rain will end quickly along most of the Atlantic coast on Thursday morning. Showers and thunderstorms may linger over Florida.
While warmth surges across much of the eastern third of the nation with rain this week, areas from central and northern Maine to northern New Hampshire and Vermont will be cold enough for snow and/or a wintry mix from both systems.
In parts of northern Maine, more than a foot of new snow may be on the ground by Thursday evening.
Looking ahead, there is the chance that another major storm may affect the eastern part of the nation with rain, thunderstorms and northern tier snow this weekend into early next week.
"The track and strength of the storm between Dec. 4 and Dec. 6 is uncertain this far out," Pastelok said.
Even if the storm fails to evolve this weekend, the overall weather pattern will remain favorable for significant storms to swing across a large part of the nation through much of December, according to Pastelok.