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High flood alert! Southern half of Florida prepares for deluge

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.

Sources include nearest National Weather Service office, National Hurricane Center, and the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network (@FloridaStorms).
Sources include nearby emergency management agencies, FEMA, and your local NPR affiliate. 
Sources include the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Highway Patrol and other nearby traffic information.

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A service of WUFT at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications 

Partners of the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network include: Florida's Division of Emergency Management, WDNA (Miami), WFIT (Melbourne), WMFE (Orlando), WFSU (Tallahassee), WGCU (Fort Myers), WJCT (Jacksonville), WKGC (Panama City), WLRN (Miami), WMNF (Tampa-Sarasota), WQCS (Fort Pierce), WUFT (Gainesville-Ocala), WUSF (Tampa), WUWF (Pensacola) and Florida Public Media.

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