Written by Bradley Schaaf, Meteorologist, FL Division of Emergency Management Wednesday, 27 June 2012 12:24
Tropical Storm Debby to Make Landfall on Wednesday Morning… Heavy Rain to Aggravate Flooding Across Areas of North and Central Florida…
Severe Storms Possible Today and Tomorrow Across Florida Peninsula… Isolated Tornadoes and Damaging Wind the Primary Risks... Elevated Rip Current Risks for Florida Beaches This Week…
Tropical Storm Debby is expected to make landfall over Levy County Wednesday morning. It will most likely have maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and move east-northeastward slowly at 6 mph. Tropical Storm force winds will likely stretch from Franklin to Sarasota coastal counties and inland Northeast Florida. There is also a 5% to 10% chance that the Peninsula may experience tropical storm force winds. Rain bands should be present from the center extending eastward and southward across Central Florida. Brief tornadoes cannot be ruled out especially over Central and Northeast Florida.
By late afternoon Wednesday, the system should be reduced to a tropical depression with winds less than 39 mph and centered over the Northern Peninsula. Debby should be moving out into the Atlantic Wednesday night into Thursday, continuing to move east-northeastward.
The main concern over the next few days is flooding. There is a flood watch for all of Northeast Florida through Wednesday evening. Storm total rainfall amounts of 15 to 25 inches are possible over portions of North Florida. Central Florida can have up to 4 inches of rain over the next few days. The southerly wind pattern will keep bringing Gulf and Caribbean moisture up the Peninsula keeping daytime and nighttime rain chances from 40% to 60% for South Florida with 30% to 40% for the Keys. The Western Panhandle has less than a 10% chance of rain while the eastern portion of the Panhandle can receive up to an inch of rain by Friday.
High temperatures will continue to be below normal in the low to high 80s for the Peninsula and Eastern Panhandle on Wednesday due to cloudy and rainy conditions. The Western Panhandle can reach into the low 90s. Thursday will be slightly warmer with highs in the mid 80s to low 90s. Heat indexes for South Florida may reach 100 degrees on Thursday. Low temperatures for Wednesday and Thursday will be in the 70s with lows in the low 80s for the Keys.
By Friday morning, the National Hurricane Center official forecast shows Debby moving northeast across the Atlantic, away from Florida, and strengthening back to a tropical storm. Behind Tropical Storm Debby, an area of high pressure will build over the Southeastern United States allowing for areas of Florida to begin drying out. Westerly winds will allow Gulf moisture to continue filing in over Florida where warm temperatures may initiate the sea breeze each day. A 20%-30% chance of showers and storms will be possible each day in association with the sea breeze. Although a severe weather outbreak is unlikely, storms may generate isolated wind gusts to 30 mph and cloud-to-ground lightning strikes.
Otherwise, mostly sunny skies are expected across the state. Conditions will likely feel rather oppressive as hot and humid air builds into place. Afternoon high temperatures are anticipated to climb into the low-to-mid 90s across Florida on Friday with temperatures soaring into the mid 90s across areas of North and Central Florida. Muggy air likely will help temperatures feel like they are residing in the triple digits.
Overnight conditions are expected to remain rather beautiful with decreasing shower and storm coverage and intensity. After the showers subside, partly cloudy skies will allow temperatures to drop into the 70s statewide.
Tropical Storm Debby continues to create large waves and gusty winds which will create a high risk of rip currents for the entire Gulf Coast. This risk will linger until Friday when winds and waves begin to decrease as a result of Debby moving into the Atlantic. The risk will decrease to moderate levels on Friday before calming to low levels on Saturday.
For the Atlantic Coast, breezy winds and waves are generating a moderate risk of rip currents for all East Coast beaches today. This risk will likely continue through Saturday as enhanced waves continue northward along the coast.
Anyone who plans to enter the water should check their local rip current forecast before going to their beach destination. Everyone should always remember that the safest beaches are the ones protected by lifeguards.
Drought & Fire Weather:
Due to plenty of rainfall and high humidity values, wildfires are at a low risk for the Peninsula and Eastern Panhandle for the next 5 days. Walton County and areas west of it are still at a moderate risk for wildfires because of drier conditions. Over the last 24 hours, portions of North Florida received over 10 inches of rain and areas of Central and South Florida got about half an inch of rain. The rain from Tropical Storm Debby helped eliminate the short-term drought, as noted by the Keetch-Bryam Drought Index, and will do much to lessen the intensity of the long-term drought. However, portions of the Panhandle still need 12 to 16 inches of rain while South and Central Florida need 4 to 8 inches to eliminate their rainfall deficits. But this has not taken into account the most recent rainfall associated with Debby and most of the State’s drought will more than likely be eliminated by the heavy rainfall.
As of now, there are 9 rivers flooded and that number is expected to rise over the next 2 days. Moderate to major flooding is ongoing along some areas of the Northern Peninsula, as well as West Central Florida. It is likely to continue for the next two days. Florida may receive over 6 more inches of rain and surrounding areas can get up to 4 inches within the next five days. Central Florida has the possibility to have 3 more inches of rain and South Florida can have up to 2 inches by Saturday.
As more seasonable rainfall accumulations are expected to enter the forecast over the next few months drought conditions are expected to improve statewide by the end of September.
At 2PM Tuesday, Tropical Storm Debby was located about 35 miles to the west of Cedar Key, Florida, moving east-northeast at 6 mph. Maximum sustained winds have decreased to about 40 mph, and current data suggests that Debby is weakening. Upper level winds have dislocated most of the shower and thunderstorm activity to the east of the center of Debby which will help keep it disorganized. Current trends suggest that Tropical Storm Debby may weaken into a depression either later this afternoon or tomorrow.
The official forecast from the National Hurricane center shows Debby continuing to move along an east-northeast track with an increase in forward speed expected over the next couple of days. Debby should exit the Florida Peninsula on Thursday morning where some strengthening is possible as upper-level winds decrease and a new source of warm water is provided. Although strengthening is in the forecast, Debby should continue to move away from the Atlantic Coast ahead of an approaching front.
The main threat continues to be heavy rainfall of potentially 1-3 inches over North Florida and 2-6 over Northeast and Central Florida tomorrow. In addition, isolated severe storms with isolated tornadoes and damaging wind gusts will also be possible both today and tomorrow. Furthermore, increased swells and wave action in the Gulf of Mexico will continue the threat for rip currents and rough surf. Wave heights may reach as high as 4-6 feet along the northern Gulf Coast and near 6-10 feet along the remaining Gulf Coast. This could lead to minor coastal flooding and beach erosion.
Elsewhere, the tropics are expected to remain quiet and no activity is forecasted for the next 5 days.
Have a great weekend and Stay Dry!!!
Alexandra Keclik, Meteorologist Intern
Bradley Schaaf, Meteorologist
State Meteorological Support Unit
Florida Division of Emergency Management
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