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Series of Storms Poised To Bring Eastern U.S. Soaking Rain

UPDATED 7 AM CST, December 21, 2011

UPDATED By WeatherBug Sr. Meteorologist, James West

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The once powerful early-week blizzard responsible for depositing more than a foot of fresh snow across the western High Plains is now poised to sweep waves of torrential downpours across the eastern-third of the U.S. today. A second and more impressive storm system following on its heels will spread soaking rain and spark dangerous thunderstorms from Texas to southern New England late this week.

Generating the various waves of soaking downpours stretching from the Florida Gulf Coast to the Ohio Valley is low pressure exiting the Middle Mississippi Valley and making a beeline for the eastern Great Lakes and northern New England. Ahead of the storm, unseasonably warm, moist air is being drawn northward from the Gulf of Mexico, with much cooler, drier air diving into the western flank of storm system.

WeatherBug Meteorologist Todd Nelson has the latest on today eastern rain and the next Rockies Winter storm in this exclusive WeatherBug Winter Weather Video.

Driving the heavy rain all the way to the East Coast and Interstate 95 corridor in the Northeast will be the clash between these air masses.

If the heavy rain wasn`t enough, the unseasonably warm, moist air residing along the eastern-third of the U.S. will trigger a few, rare late-year thunderstorms from the Gulf Coast into the eastern Ohio Valley today. The biggest risk from these thunderstorms will be damaging wind gusts, but hail and a brief tornado cannot be completely ruled out. Mobile, Ala., Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tenn., and Charleston, W. Va., will need to keep an eye to the sky for threatening storms.

While rainfall amounts won`t be too impressive with this once formidable storm system, a new storm is poised to develop along the tail end of a cold front in the Gulf of Mexico and rocket up the East Coast late Thursday into Friday. The low pressure will tap a full bounty of Gulf of Mexico moisture, first squeezing it out from parched eastern Texas into the Mid-South tonight and Thursday. After that, it will spread across the Ohio Valley, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast on Thursday night and Friday.

It won`t only be rainfall amounts reaching 1 to 2 inches from eastern Texas into southern New England, but severe thunderstorms will rumble eastward along and ahead of a cold front across the Deep South on Thursday. The main threat with the thunderstorms will be damaging wind gusts in excess of 60 mph, but an isolated tornado or two cannot be ruled out in the more intense thunderstorms. Alexandria, La., Jackson, Miss., and Birmingham, Ala., will all be at risk for these dangerous thunderstorms.

Noteworthy with this next storm is the potential for beneficial rainfall across parched eastern Texas and the Lower Mississippi Valley and the near-miss for the drought-stricken Southeast and eastern Carolinas. In Texas` and the Lower Mississippi Valley case, it would take more than a foot of rainfall to alleviate the historic drought festering since summer 2010. Also of note will be the storm is such a quick-mover, it won`t have the chance to exacerbate ongoing river flooding along portions of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.

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