Parts of three Southern states were under tornado watches, up to 5 inches of rain was falling in parts of the East, and a sheet of ice and up to 2 feet of snow threatened New England on Thursday as a gnarly winter storm rolled east.
The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for a wide swath of southeastern Alabama, much of southwestern Georgia and the western end of the Florida panhandle. Heavy rains across much of the South brought flooding and even school closures Thursday.
The storms were expected to continue into Friday, said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Isaac Longley. Some areas in the South and up into Maryland could see 3 to 5 inches of rain, he said.
“The main threat going forward in the Southeast will be the winds, really damaging wind gusts of up to 60, 80 miles per hour,” he told USA TODAY. “There will also be heavy rains as we deal with a lot of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.”
The watch comes a day after heavy rain, high winds and tornadoes slammed across parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee late Wednesday, flooding homes, knocking down trees and blocking roads. More than 35,000 homes and businesses were without power across the region Thursday.
Meanwhile, a snowstorm that swept across parts of the Southwest and Midwest earlier in the week was taking aim at the Northeast. A mix of rain, freezing rain and sleet in parts of New York state and New England could become a howling snowstorm before concluding Friday, Longley said. Some areas could see up to 3 inches of snow per hour.
“In northern New York up to Vermont and Maine you could see locally up to 20 inches of snow depending on where the snow bands set up,” Longley said.
The wintry storm system comes days after just days after springlike warmth across the East.
“This winter has been all over the place, it can’t seem to make up its mind,” Longley said. “But it looks like we are getting into more of a winter trend.”