As busy holiday travel week begins, southeast U.S. to see heavy rain, flooding

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Heavy rain and flooding are expected in the southeast United States on Monday, as millions of Americans embark on holiday travel two days before Christmas.

A powerful storm was moving from the deep South toward the Atlantic coast on Sunday night and was forecast to drop as much as six inches of rain on parts of Georgia and South Carolina through Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

Many counties in those two states were under flash flood warnings, including the coastal areas.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation warned drivers across the state to beware of flooded streets and downed trees through Monday and to use “extreme caution.”

Meanwhile, another system was moving across southern California, bringing widespread rain to the region as well as snow in elevated areas. The National Weather Service warned that mountain travel could be dangerous in San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties.

The Midwest, however, was expecting warmer than average temperatures and dry weather as Christmas week began. In Chicago, for instance, the forecast for Monday called for temperatures near 50 degrees Fahrenheit, nearly 20 degrees above normal.

Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Christopher Cushing