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Flood risk for South Florida extended through Friday

Update from Wednesday evening, June 12, 2024.

Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of Emergency for Sarasota, Lee, Collier, Broward, and
Miami-Dade counties on Tuesday after at least a foot of rain fell in some of these counties and it continues to rain.

The rain was most intense over Southwest Florida through Sarasota on Tuesday. Firefighters had to rescue someone in Fort Myers after becoming trapped in flood water in their SUV on Wednesday morning.
Sarasota and Ft. Myers broke daily rainfall records, and many places are bound to officially break rainfall records across the southwest and southeast on Wednesday again.

The most impactful images come from Southeast Florida (where also some water rescues have been reported by emergency management authorities) on Wednesday as torrential rains left residents stranded in their cars, and major highways, like a section of I-95 in Broward County, closed as floodwaters covered the road. Parts of Miami-Dade and southern Broward received over 12 inches of rain and although there seems to be a break overnight, the rain and storms are coming back on Thursday.

The forecast - When will it stop?

There will still be plenty of tropical moisture in place coming in from the south on Thursday and even on Friday. Hang tight as there will be more flooding as the ground is extremely saturated and there could be some river and lake runoff, causing additional problems for already flooded areas.

Areal Flood warnings are in effect until Thursday morning for Collier, Lee, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties. There are still a couple of inches of rain that could fall through the overnight hours. Although the rain will diminish slowly, it will take a few hours for the flood waters to drain. Flood watches will continue to be in effect through Friday evening, and could be extended through Friday as the storms are still in the forecast. The ground is saturated, this is the reason that the flood watch is still in effect. Although heavy rain might not be present in the morning for some areas, the afternoon promises to bring heavy activity again. It will not take much for the ground to become flooded again and cause problems on the streets and neighborhood.

There could be 3 to 6 inches of additional rain falling with the most intense rainbands moving across South Florida through Friday night. Some isolated areas, where rainbands become more persistent could receive higher amounts. Please stay put, and avoid being on the streets as much as possible.

Original Story from Tuesday morning, June 11, 2024.

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 a 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 Ft. 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.

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.

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