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High flood alert! Southern half of Florida prepares for deluge

The southern half of the Florida Peninsula is about to get a deluge that many would think is beneficial for the drought, but it can bring more problems because the ground is so dry.
When the ground is so dry, and high amounts of rain falls, the ground cannot absorb it well. It is just too much, too soon. Think about it as pouring water over parched sand versus pouring water over moist sand. One drains better than the other.

Eventually, it will drain, and it will help bring relief from the drought, but we won’t see the returns until the drought monitor releases their next update on June 20.

The update coming out on June 13, cuts off on Tuesday morning, it will be too soon, considering that we are calling for the highest rainfall to fall between Tuesday and Wednesday.

How much rainfall and when?

The first pockets of deep tropical moisture arrived late Monday across South Florida and arrived over areas just south of Orlando through Bradenton early Tuesday morning.

Expect rain showers to come in batches and move mainly from south to north. Storms could be embedded in pockets; some could be strong and dump lots of rain quickly.

Rainfall through Friday calls for the heaviest amounts to fall along I-75 from Naples, through Fort Myers, and northward over to Sarasota. Some isolated places near this region could receive over a foot of rain through Friday. Some models show amounts around 15 inches across Southwest Florida, where the drought is severe, at a level 4 of 5.
To that end, the National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for Collier, Glades and Hendry counties running through Wednesday evening.

Other weather services, such as commercial forecaster AccuWeather, concurred: “The bullseye is on southwest Florida along the Gulf Coast,” said AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno. “Severe weather will be limited. The big threat is going to be flooding. Warm air at the surface and cold air aloft makes for a very unstable atmosphere. With a dip in the jet stream this far south, it’s going to pull a lot of tropical moisture north into Florida.”

The AccuWeather forecast said tropical downpours were expected to arrive in South Florida on Tuesday. AccuWeather is forecasting 8 to 12 inches of rainfall across much of Southwest Florida through Sunday. Some spots could see up to 22 inches of rain this week, according to the AccuWeather Local StormMax.

Rainy season checklist

Other places in Florida, such as Southeast Florida could also receive high rainfall. Isolated spots could receive around 10 inches of rain, but generally, Miami-Dade, Broward through Palm Beach are in the 4 to 6 inches range.
As we move north there could be some spots, where the showers and storms fall more persistently, where rainfall through Friday could reach around 10 inches, but these places will be very isolated, more so than in Southeast Florida.

Central Florida will have large variations, in short distances, especially closer to the Orlando area.

Although most of Orange County could receive 2 to 4 inches of rain, there could be some isolated spots with 6 inches, especially in south Orange County, like in Osceola and Polk Counties.

The Tampa Bay area is likely to get higher amounts than the eastern Central Florida region, with some spots receiving close to 10 inches.

Please avoid all flooded roadways. The floodwaters could be deeper than expected and only 6 inches could make you lose control of your car. Also, if you encounter floodwaters, do not walk through them.

There could be animals displaced from nearby lakes, contaminated water as well as sharp objects.

No one should be doing any activities in floodwaters. Please drive safely, monitor your local weather, and follow the authorities’ orders.

The immediate relief, at least for Central and South, Florida will be in the temperatures. Highs will be in the mid-80s, but still very muggy. Scattered rain showers and mostly winds from the south will keep the temperatures toasty over North Florida and the Panhandle.

Water managers get ready

The South Florida Water Management District reported that it was prepared for potentially heavy rainfall throughout the week and would actively monitor, manage and adjust its primary water management system throughout the entire rain event.

Over the next five days, rainfall is expected to be significantly above average for this time of year. There is a strong potential for flooding in low-lying areas, areas with poor drainage, and coastal areas impacted by high tides

Much of the Central and Southern Florida region has an interconnected water management system, and flood control is a shared responsibility between county/city governments, local drainage districts, communities (including Homeowner Associations or HOAs), and the District. In addition, the District will work with drainage partners to provide as much drainage as possible in impacted areas.

Copyright 2024 Storm Center. WGCU Public Media, the National Weather Service and AccuWeather contributed to this report.

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