Weather

Outlook at Weekend Flood Potential for Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia

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April 17, 2020

We’ve all heard of the book A Tale of Two Cities. Well in the weather world so far this year, we clearly see a Tale of Two Souths.

The southeastern states have observed extreme differences in precipitation patterns, with a broad region across Tennessee and central and northern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, already observing more than 25 inches of rain this year. Meanwhile, isolated areas of Mississippi and Alabama have recorded more than 40 inches of rain in the same amount of time.

Map of observed precipitation so far in the calendar year 2020. A broad region in the southeastern states has already observed more than 25 inches of rain (yellow), while isolated areas of Mississippi and Alabama have recorded more than 40 inches (red).

By contrast, many locations closer to the Gulf Coast, have recorded less than 10 inches of rain and are in a drought. While the drought is most severe in Texas, central Florida and areas along the immediate coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are also observing severe drought.

For example, the drought has reached a D2 classification in all three coastal counties of Mississippi. This classification describes severe drought that can cause the ground to crack and damage roads. Severe drought extends into extreme southern Mobile County in Alabama, as well.

The U.S. Drought Monitor has classified much of the Gulf Coast, from Texas to Florida, in various levels of drought. Darker colors on this map depict more severe drought classifications, with the most severe areas observed in Texas, central Florida and along the immediate coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

As a moisture-laden storm system approaches the Gulf Coast for a second consecutive weekend, the precipitation bullseye will once again focus on a swath extending west to east across portions of central Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. A widespread area in this region will observe heavy rain, with portions of central Alabama forecast to receive three or more inches of rain by Monday morning.

Rainfall forecast map shows the potential for widespread heavy rain across the southeast by Monday morning, with portions of central Alabama receiving 3 or more inches of rain.

The precipitation map shades the areas with the heaviest rain forecast in red. We are used to seeing Alabama painted red during football season, but this weekend that shading has everything to do with a forecast for heavy rain.

Following a stormy Easter weekend and a wet start to 2020, the concern exists for flash flooding once again later this weekend, particularly in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

The National Weather Service river gauge map depicted numerous gauges still in minor flooding (orange), with the gauge along the Pearl River at Philadelphia, Mississippi, near flood stage as of Friday morning, April 17.

As of Friday morning, river gauges along the Black Warrior and Tombigbee rivers in west central Alabama, were still observing minor flooding. Gauges along Mississippi’s Pearl and Big Black rivers also reported minor flooding, with the gauge on the Pearl River near Philadelphia, Mississippi, reporting to be near flood stage as of mid-morning on Friday.

It may not take much additional rain to push these rivers to levels that may flood roads and properties. Stay tuned to your trusted media sources, as well as the National Weather Service for updates throughout the weekend on this developing weather event.