After a very mild end to February, a storm system in the Lower Mississippi will track its way into the Ohio Valley and spin off the coastal storm Thursday night into Friday. The storm off coast will rapidly intensify battering the region with drenching rain, strong winds, coastal flooding and even some snow. This powerful storm has prompted High Wind, Flood, Coastal Flood and Winter Storm Watches across the region starting as early as Thursday.
The first showers may move in as early as Thursday afternoon, but it becomes steady and heavy during the evening. As the low intensify off the coast, winds will start to pick up during the overnight period with gusts to 35 mph.
The brunt of the storm will be Friday morning into the afternoon with drenching downpours and gusts of 50-60 mph. A combination of the soaked ground and gusty winds could topple down trees, creating scattered power outages.
Towards the afternoon, colder air will filter in, especially across inland sections, allowing for the rain to changeover to snow. Accumulations for areas well north and west of the city could exceed 3 to 6 inches. Even the city and coastal sections may switch to snow for a period in the afternoon as cold air aloft gets pulled down to the surface. However, it will have a hard time sticking to the surface with the ground temperature expected to stay above freezing.
The rain should taper off in the evening, but the wind will remain to be a factor through the night before that backs off on Saturday. When all is said and done, most of the region should get 1-2 inches of rain. The heavy downpours will create flooding along low lying spots and areas with poor drainage.
The combination of the strong onshore flow and the full moon will create several rounds of astronomical high tide cycles. Starting on Friday morning, current forecasts indicate that tides could go 2-3 feet above normal for the ocean facing coastline and back bays, which would create moderate flooding. One or two spots could be worse with major flooding a possibility depending on the conditions.
Unfortunately, with the slow departure of the storm, the risk of coastal flooding will continue into Saturday. Also, the shoreline will be battered with the rough surf and winds creating a big deal of beach erosion. The seas should start to calm down by Sunday as the storm heads out into the open seas.