By Alex Sosnowski
Senior Expert Meteorologist for AccuWeather.com
State College, Pa. -- 21 November 2011 -- AccuWeather reports an area of heavy rain will produce urban flooding, drenched roadways and grounded flights for Thanksgiving travelers into Wednesday from Arkansas to Ohio to Massachusetts.
A broad area of 1- to 2-inch rainfall is in store from the South Central states and part of the lower Mississippi Valley northward through the Tennessee and Ohio valleys to the central Appalachians, the coastal mid-Atlantic and southern New England prior to Thanksgiving.
Locally heavier amounts near 3 inches are possible within this zone.
Cities impacted by heavy rain and the risk of a period of urban flooding include Little Rock, Ark., St. Louis, Nashville, Tenn., Indianapolis, Louisville, Ky., Cincinnati, Morgantown, W.Va., Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Newark, N.J., New York City, Hartford, Conn., Providence, R.I. and Boston.
In some cases, such as in parts of Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, there is potential for enough rain in a short period of time to cause flash and small stream flooding.
Motorists traveling through the region spanning I-40 and I-70 in the Midwest through Tuesday and I-80, I-90 and I-95 in the Northeast Tuesday night into Wednesday are urged to have patience, pay attention to the road and exercise caution when venturing on vehicle-clogged, rain-drenched roadways.
Stopping distance greatly increases on wet roadways, and poor visibility from heavy rain, fog and blowing spray increases reaction time.
The rain will exit most of the Midwest late Tuesday night, but will not clear all of the East until Wednesday afternoon and evening. The worst of the rain should depart the I-95 mid-Atlantic during the midday hours Wednesday.
The rain, areas of fog and associated low cloud ceilings will put added pressure on airlines dealing with the heavy volume of holiday traffic.
Flight delays are likely during part of the period through Wednesday for parts of the South, Midwest and Northeast.
Thunderstorms will also play a role in the intensity of the rain and travel delays from Texas to the coastal mid-Atlantic. The storms will focus rainfall over a short period, elevating the flash flooding potential at the local level, and lowering visibility to dangerous levels for those traveling at highway speeds.