By Chyna Glenn – AccuWeather
As Missouri residents continue to recover and clean up from deadly flooding, communities in Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi are bracing for dangerous flooding along the Mississippi River and its tributaries.
Mississippi River floodwaters have receded around the St. Louis area, and communities that were evacuated have returned to deal with the aftermath of flood damage.
“Waters are receding but cleanup continues in many Missouri communities,” Gov. Jay Nixon said on Twitter on Monday, Jan. 4, adding that the state is coordinating with federal and local officials to speed recovery.
Now, floodwaters are moving downstream along the Mississippi River, with major flooding expected for some locations in Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi.
The Mississippi River will swell to peak levels in Tennessee and northern Arkansas as the week draws to a close.
Deadly flooding is expected to surge farther south along the Mississippi River over the coming days, putting many more levees at risk for failing and more homes and highways under water.
Communities along the Mississippi River in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana should be prepared for flood issues over the coming weeks as the copious amounts of water travels farther south.
Water levels will continue to rise in Memphis, Tennessee, and Greenville, Mississippi, as well as Baton Rouge, Louisiana, through the second week of January. Levees will be forced to hold back the rising water, but in some cases may fail, as has been seen in the past week. Residents in these areas will want to be prepared for historic flooding.
Flooding on the middle portion of the Mississippi River and some of its tributaries reached levels not seen during the winter months since records began during the middle 1800s.
By Alex Sosnowski – AccuWeather
Flooding in the upcoming days and weeks following a tremendous December rainfall could be one for the record books in the Mississippi Valley.
Major flooding along the Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Arkansas and Meramec rivers will have communities dealing with long-duration high water.
Freezing temperatures will cause some flooded areas to turn icy and will add to the challenges.
Flooding on the middle portion of the Mississippi River and its tributaries may reach levels not seen during the winter months since records began during the middle 1800s.
Water levels could rival the mark set during the summer of 1993 and spring of 1995 and 2011 in some cases. Chester and Cape Girardeau, Missouri, as well as Thebes, Illinois, could experience record high Mississippi River levels.
Severe weather, including tornadoes, will endanger a large swath of the Central United States on Veterans Day.
Residents from Iowa and Illinois to northern Mississippi and central Texas will remain on alert for potentially damaging thunderstorms to erupt Wednesday. The risk of severe storms will extend eastward into Wednesday night.
The severe thunderstorm threat zone covers an area home to approximately 30 million people.
Cities in the threat zone include Des Moines and Davenport, Iowa; St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield, Missouri; Chicago and Springfield, Illinois; Little Rock, Arkansas; Memphis, Tennessee; Shreveport, Louisiana; and Houston.
A storm will spread a swath of snow and sleet stretching from northeastern Texas and northern Louisiana to southeastern New York state and Massachusetts through Thursday.
Daily activities will be affected for close to 80 million people on Thursday. Keep track of the storm in our Live Blog.
The storm hit portions of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas on Wednesday.
Major travel disruptions are in store through Thursday, ranging from snow-clogged roads to many flight delays and cancellations. The flight disruptions will likely extend well beyond areas directly affected by the storm as crews and aircraft are displaced.
The atmosphere is producing a rare event. The latest winter storm will occur during a press of cold air invading the Central and Eastern states in the wake of a storm that produced snow and ice Tuesday night and rain Wednesday.
According to AccuWeather.com Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams, “Usually when cold air follows a storm, the atmosphere just dries out.”
“Instead of a sweep of cold, dry air, we get the cold, but not the dry this time,” he said.
Rain already has or will will continue to change to snow and sleet along much of the 1,500-mile swath as the new storm rides northeastward.
The snow will fall heavily at times from part of the Ohio Valley to the central Appalachians and mid-Atlantic coast.
Heavy snow has already buried parts of Kentucky, West Virginia, and Arkansas and will continue to push eastward Thursday. As of early Thursday morning, areas just to the south and east of Louisville, Kentucky have seen 14 to 19 inches of snow. This heavy snow will take aim at the central Appalachians to the mid-Atlantic coast later Thursday.
The snow will be wet and clinging in nature initially. This will weigh down trees and could lead to power outages.
Despite the lighter amount of snow forecast from Nashville to Memphis and into southern Arkansas, enough will fall, along with plunging temperatures to create slippery travel.
A key to how nasty road conditions get will depend on several factors.
“Where the snow falls during the late-night and early-morning hours, where it snows hard at any time or where sleet falls during part of the storm, roads are likely to be at their worst,” Abrams said.
Light snow typically struggles to accumulate during the midday hours in March, even with temperatures below freezing. This is due to some of the sun’s rays penetrating through the clouds.
Some of the snow will fall into Thursday afternoon in the heavily populated Interstate-95 corridor from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore to Philadelphia and New York City. Motorists should be prepared for a slippery Thursday commute.
A heavy rate of snow can overcome the March sun effect. Some areas will receive snowfall at the rate of 1-2 inches per hour, which is more than enough to cover roads during the middle of the day.
Pockets of sleet will occur along the long swath of wintry precipitation.
“Sleet, similar to hail, is very dense and can take much more heat away from road surface temperatures, compared to snow,” Abrams said.
On the southern edge of the heavy snow, an icy mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain will coat roads and sidewalks.
Areas from Shreveport, Louisiana; Tupelo, Mississippi; Huntsville, Alabama; and Chattanooga, Tennessee; could receive a slippery, but small amount of wintry mix from the storm.
In addition to travel problems directly associated with precipitation, a brief but significant push of arctic air near the tail end of the storm will cause areas of standing water and slush to freeze.
In some cases, the freeze-up will not wait until Thursday night. Because of this government cleanup, crews and property owners may want to remove the snow and treat surfaces as soon as possible on Thursday.
AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Jordan Root also contributed to this story.