Heavy rains are forecast throughout the southern US and Ohio River valley between Tuesday, February 19, through Saturday, February 23. The weather system, spurred by a change in the jet stream forcing tropical air from the Gulf of Mexico to clash with Winter Storm Petra hitting northern states, is expected to cause severe thunderstorms and flooding in several states. Rainfall totals of 8-13 cm (3-5 in) are forecast in parts of Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia through Saturday. Localized rainfall totals of 13-20 cm (5-8 in) are expected in the lower Mississippi valley, Tennessee valley, and Ohio River valley, including in Memphis and Nashville (Tennessee).
The National Weather Service (NWS) has also issued flood watches for several of the aforementioned states from Wednesday evening (local time), February 20, through Thursday morning, February 21, due to the potential for rainfall rates of 2-5 cm (1-2 in) per hour. Localized transportation disruptions, including road closures, are possible in the affected areas over the coming days.
Individuals present in the affected areas are advised to follow all instructions issued by local authorities and to anticipate transportation disruptions. Remember that driving or walking through running water can be dangerous; 15 cm (6 in) of running water is enough to knock an adult over.
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