Willa not done, heading for the U.S.: heavy rain, snow, strong winds possible

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Hurricane Willa walloped western Mexico Tuesday evening, making landfall as a Category 3 storm just south of Mazatlán, near Isle De Bosque, with winds of 120 mph.

What’s left of Willa will is moving across northern Mexico toward the U.S., already spreading rain into the South. Here’s what to expect from the storm.

Texas deluge:

The last thing the Lone Star State needs is more rain. Willa is drenching central and eastern areas right now and won’t let up until late tonight (Wednesday). Another inch of rainfall is possible with locally higher amounts.

Flash Flood Watches are in effect for Austin and San Antonio, cities that had flooding last week, and many roads near Austin and west of San Antonio are closed due to flooding. Several rivers are at major or moderate flood stage and could stay this way for at least a few more days.

Southeast soaker:

After Willa leaves Texas, it will just be a low pressure system, but it’ll still make for very rainy weather across the Gulf coast states. From early Thursday morning through Friday afternoon the system could drop one to three inches of rain across parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and the Florida panhandle. A few thunderstorms could pop up, too, and localized flash flooding can’t be ruled out.

Nor’easter possible:

After dousing the South, “Willa” could become the first Nor’easter of the season. The latest computer model forecasts are in agreement that the storm will hold on strong as it heads toward the mid-Atlantic and New England this weekend, morphing from a tropical system to a more winter-like storm. Eight to 12 inches of snow could pile up Friday night through Saturday night from parts of upstate New York to northern Maine.

Closer to the coast rain will be falling sideways, being blown around by fierce winds. Gusts of 40 to 60 mph could flood areas along the shorelines of New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and the south shore of Long Island. Significant amounts of rain could waterlog Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston.

Gusts could hit 20 to 30 mph in areas that receive the snow, leading to snow drifts and bad driving conditions with poor visibility.

A slight shift in the storm’s track can make all the difference in determining its impacts. If it tracks farther out to sea, this would minimize the wind speeds and precipitation amounts, but could also mean a better chance for some snow in the big cities.  Either way, Willa will stick around for a while.


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Nick Austin, Director of Weather Analytics and Senior Meteorologist

In his 17 years of weather forecasting experience, Nick worked on air at WBBJ-TV and WRCB-TV, including time spent doing weather analysis and field reporting. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from Georgia Institute of Technology. Nick is also 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 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” for eight consecutive years. Nick earned his National Weather Association Broadcasting Seal in 2005.