- Rain is forecast for much of the West and East on New Year’s Eve.
- Temperatures are expected to be above average across most of the country on Saturday.
- The forecast for the central U.S. is dry and milder than over the Christmas holiday weekend.
Much of the nation could be in for a wet New Year’s Eve.
A storm system that began the week in the West Coast will bring rain to the eastern U.S. over the weekend, according to the National Weather Service. Additional storms are expected to bring rain and snow to the Pacific coast and West.
Showers and thunderstorms could lead to flash flooding from the Gulf Coast into the Carolinas and the Florida Panhandle, according to AccuWeather. Rainfall on accumulated snow could also cause some flooding in the Midwest and Northeast.
“We’re expecting a pretty wet pattern in the western United States. A decent amount of rain is going to be coming to California, and some even heavier mountain snow in the Sierra Nevada,” AccuWeather meteorologist Nicole LoBiondo told USA TODAY. “The eastern United States looks to be wet as well, with much milder conditions.”
Temperatures across the U.S. are expected to be warmer than over the Christmas holiday weekend: higher than average temps in the 70s in Texas and 80s in Florida. Highs into the 50s and 60s will be common for the eastern states. The middle section of the U.S. will be dry with milder conditions.
“So, quite a contrast between Christmas and New Year’s this year, especially in the eastern parts of the country, for sure,” LoBiondo said.
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What will the weather be like in Times Square?
Revelers in Times Square to watch the ball drop at midnight EST may be in for a soggy affair. Showers are likely Saturday afternoon in New York City, with a high near 52, according to the National Weather Service. Saturday night, the chance of rain increases to 90% with ½ to ¾ of an inch of precipitation possible.
For the evening, “it looks like a chance of rain but mild temperatures between 44-49 degrees,” Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore told USA TODAY. That’s higher that the average temperature at the ball drop, which since 1907 has been 33.7 degrees, he said.
Those watching the ball drop in person will want to dress accordingly. “It’s always smart to bring layers and this year a waterproof shell over the layers to keep you dry would be wise,” Cantore said.
Where will it rain on New Year’s Eve?
The National Weather Service expects heavy rain and snow in the West and mountains through the end of the week. Southwest Oregon and northern and central California could get 3 to 6 inches of rain over the weekend.
An atmospheric river, which channels warm tropical air into precipitation, could develop and increase the rainfall. “Northern California, and especially the area from San Francisco to Sacramento and the west-facing slopes of the Sierra Nevada can be hit with several inches of rain from Friday night to early Sunday,” said senior storm warning meteorologist William Clark on Accuweather.com.
Rain could “dampen some New Year’s festivities in the Los Angeles area,” LoBiondo said.
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Showers and thunderstorms are forecast in the lower Mississippi Valley and the Gulf Coast, too. Heavy rainfall will stretch north into the Ohio Valley.
Rain could disrupt travel, and pooled water and reduced visibility could slow highway driving. The mix of warm air and cold ground cover could result in fog and low ceilings that could also hamper air travel, already backed up because of flight cancellations caused by a holiday storm.
Airline hubs in Atlanta, New York and Pittsburgh might see minor delays caused by rain and thunderstorms on New Year’s Eve, LoBiondo said.
Milder temperatures and rain, she said, could lead to flooding in the region around Buffalo, New York, where more than three dozen people have died following a blizzard, which dumped about 50 inches of snow in some parts.
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.