Potent storm to eye Spain, France and Italy after abnormally dry February

Potent storm to eye Spain, France and Italy after abnormally dry FebruaryAfter a month-long dry spell in much of the western Mediterranean, March will come in like a lion with the arrival of stormy weather.The storm will move into northern Spain, from the Bay of Biscay later on Sunday, and spread rain, gusty winds and some high-elevation snow from Portugal to France."This storm will pack a punch, bringing with it heavy downpours that can lead to flash flooding and mudslides for the first few days of March," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Rob Richards.The heaviest rainfall will spread from central Portugal and western France Sunday afternoon to western Italy by midday on Monday, as more showery weather spreads both north and south of the storm's center.Widespread rainfall amounts of 25-75 mm (1-3 inches) are expected, along with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™️ of 150 mm (6 inches). Given how dry February was, some areas could use the rain. However, the storm will be moving rather quickly, and dozens of millimeters (several inches) in a short period of time could be too much for the ground to absorb. AccuWeather forecasters caution that this could result in some flooding problems.Snow will mix with rain in the highest elevations of the Cantabrian Mountains and Pyrenees with steadier snow expected to set up over the Alps.Several inches of fresh snow will be possible at the highest peaks.CLICK HERE FOR THE FREE ACCUWEATHER APPIn addition to the rain and snow with this storm, gusty winds are expected across much of the Iberian Peninsula."Wind gusts in parts of Spain will approach 65 km/h (40 mph) at times, especially late Sunday night and Monday," added Richards.Higher wind gusts up to 80 km/h (50 mph) will be possible over the open waters of the Balearic Sea. Winds of this magnitude will be capable of producing very rough seas and waves as high as 15 feet.More wind and rain can be expected as March continues. Several storms look to spread rain and wind across the Iberian Peninsula and the Mediterranean Sea for at least the first half of the month.As February comes to an end, the month will conclude much drier than normal for Spain, as well as much of southern France and Italy.Cities around the Mediterranean failed to accumulate 10 mm (0.39 of an inch) of rain during the month. Most locations, on average, record at least 35 mm (1.38 inches) during the month, and some receive as much as 50 mm (2 inches). The dry February came after a wetter January, particularly in Spain. Places like Barcelona and Valencia had more than 400 percent of their normal rainfall for the month in January.The last time these cities experienced over 2 mm (0.1 of an inch) of rain was Jan.19-23, when Storm Gloria battered the country with flooding rain and gusty winds.Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.