Flood warning! Southern half of Florida prepares for flooding

The southern half of the Florida peninsula is being hit by a deluge that many believe will ease the drought, but in fact it may cause even more problems because… the ground is so dry.

When the ground is so dry and large amounts of rain fall, the ground doesn’t absorb the water very well. It’s just too much, too fast. Think of it like pouring water on dry sand or on wet sand. One will drain the water better than the other.

Eventually the water will drain away and help alleviate the drought, but we won’t see the results until the Drought Monitor issues its next update on June 20. The June 13 update ends Tuesday morning, which would be too early considering we’re forecasting the highest rainfall amounts between Tuesday and Wednesday.

How much precipitation and when?

The first areas of tropical moisture reached South Florida late Monday and reached areas south of Orlando to Bradenton early Tuesday morning. Rain showers are expected in large amounts, moving primarily south to north. Storms could become entrenched in areas; some could be strong and dump large amounts of rain quickly. By Friday, the heaviest rainfall amounts are expected along I-75 from Naples through Ft. Myers to Sarasota. Some isolated locations near this region could receive over a foot of rain by Friday. Some models show amounts of around 15 inches across Southwest Florida, where the drought is severe, at level 4 of 5.

Other places in Florida, such as Southeast Florida, could also see high rainfall. Isolated locations could receive up to 10 inches of rain, but generally, rainfall from Miami-Dade, Broward to Palm Beach will be in the 4 to 6 inch range. Further north, there could be a few places where showers and storms linger longer and rainfall could reach up to 10 inches by Friday, but those locations will be very isolated, more so than in Southeast Florida.

Central Florida will see large variations over short distances, especially near Orlando. Although most of Orange County could receive 2 to 4 inches of rain, there could be some isolated areas with 6 inches, especially in southern Orange County, such as in Osceola and Polk County. The Tampa Bay region will likely receive higher amounts than the east central Florida region, with some areas receiving nearly 10 inches.

Please avoid flooded roads. Floodwaters may be deeper than expected and as little as 15 cm can cause you to lose control of your car. If you encounter floodwaters, do not walk through the water either. Animals may have been displaced from nearby lakes, the water may be contaminated and there may be sharp objects in the water. No one should carry out any activities in floodwaters. Please drive carefully, monitor the local weather and follow the instructions of the authorities.

The immediate relief, at least for Central and South Florida, will be in the temperatures. Highs will be around 30 degrees, but it will still be very humid. Scattered rain showers and predominantly southerly winds will keep temperatures comfortable in North Florida and the Panhandle.