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Flood threat rising across drought-stricken Southeast

Periodic road closures possible from Florida to Carolinas

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Truckers heading to drought-stricken parts of the Southeast will run into frequent downpours the rest of this week.

While heavy thunderstorms are expected to produce beneficial rain, including in parts of Florida that have been dealing with recent wildfires, the storms will also bring the risk of flooding.

While some cities in the inland Southeast, such as Atlanta, experienced a fairly wet February with 5.29 inches of rain (slightly above average), those along the coasts have been much drier.

Most of Florida, southern Georgia, southern Alabama, as well as eastern portions of the Carolinas are either “abnormally dry” or under a “moderate drought,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Places close to the Atlantic Ocean, such as Jacksonville, Florida, reported only two-thirds of its average rainfall for February and just a third of its normal in January. Savannah, Georgia, and Wilmington, North Carolina, each received just a little more than an inch of rain last month, which is less than 40% of their average precipitation totals for February.

Despite drier than normal conditions over the last month or so, localized flash flooding may still be a concern by the end of the week. Several rounds of rainfall could drench the region with 3 to 6 inches by Friday night. Another round of rain could arrive Saturday before dry weather returns Sunday. Localized flash flooding could lead to road and ramp closures from time to time.


The main reason for the repeated rain is a series of low-pressure systems traveling along a stationary front over the next few days. This type of setup typically keeps the atmosphere saturated and energized, resulting in periods of thunderstorms and heavy rain.

There’s also a chance that some of those storms will turn severe each day, spawning dangerous wind gusts and a few tornadoes.

Major lanes of concern

• Interstate 10 from New Orleans to Jacksonville.
• Interstate 16 in Georgia from Macon to Savannah.
• Interstate 26 in South Carolina from Charleston to Columbia.
• Interstate 75 from Atlanta to Tampa, Florida.
• Interstate 95 from Jacksonville to Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.
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