High Flood Alert! The southern half of Florida is preparing for a deluge

The southern half of the Florida Peninsula will soon experience downpours that many would consider beneficial in drought relief, but could cause more problems because the ground is so dry.
When the earth is very dry and large amounts of rain fall, the earth cannot absorb it well. It’s just too much, too fast. Think of it like pouring water on baked sand and pouring water on wet sand. One floats away better than the other.

It will eventually drain away and help provide drought relief, but we won’t see the effects until the Drought Monitor issues its next update on June 20.

The June 13 update will end on Tuesday morning, which will be early considering we are calling for the highest rainfall to occur between Tuesday and Wednesday.

How much rainfall and when?

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

Rainfall will occur in batches and move mainly from south to north. Storms can be embedded in pockets; some can be strong and dump a lot of rain quickly.

Rainfall through Friday will be heaviest along I-75 from Naples, through Fort Myers and north to Sarasota. Some isolated spots near the region could see more than a foot of rain through Friday. Some models show amounts of around 15 inches in southwest Florida, where drought is severe, at levels 4 out of 5.
To that end, the National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for Collier, Glades and Hendry counties, which will remain in effect through Wednesday evening.

Other weather services, such as commercial forecaster AccuWeather, agreed: “The ultimate target is in southwest Florida along the Gulf Coast,” said Bernie Rayno, AccuWeather’s chief on-board meteorologist. “Severe weather will be limited. The greatest threat will be flooding. Warm air at the surface and cold air above make the atmosphere very unstable. If the jet stream dips that far south, it will pull a lot of moisture from the tropics north to Florida.

The AccuWeather forecast says tropical downpours are expected across South Florida on Tuesday. AccuWeather forecasts most of Southwest Florida will receive 8 to 12 inches of precipitation by Sunday. According to AccuWeather Local StormMax, up to 22 inches of rain could fall in some places this week.

Rainy season checklist

Other places in Florida, such as Southeast Florida, could also see heavy rainfall. Isolated spots could see around 30 inches of rain, but overall, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach will see temperatures ranging from 4 to 6 inches.
As we move north, there may be some spots where showers and thunderstorms become more persistent, and rainfall amounts could reach around a foot on Friday, but these spots will be very isolated, more so than in Southeast Florida.

There are large differences over short distances in Central Florida, especially closer to the Orlando area.

While most of Orange County could receive 2 to 4 inches of rain, some isolated spots could receive up to 6 inches, particularly in southern Orange County, such as Osceola and Polk counties.

The Tampa Bay area will likely receive larger amounts than the eastern region of Central Florida, with nearly 10 inches in some places.

Please avoid all flooded roads. Flood waters may be deeper than expected and as little as 6 inches can cause you to lose control of your car. If you encounter flood waters, do not go through them.

These may include animals displaced from nearby lakes, contaminated water, and sharp objects.

No one should carry out any activities in flood waters. Please drive safely, monitor local weather and follow authorities’ instructions.

Temperatures will provide immediate relief, at least for Central and South Florida. Highs will be in the mid 80s but still very muggy. Scattered showers and mostly southerly winds will keep temperatures high in northern Florida and the Panhandle.

Water managers are preparing

The South Florida Water Management District said it is prepared for potentially heavy rainfall throughout the week and will actively monitor, manage and adjust its master water management system throughout the rainfall period.

Rainfall over the next five days is expected to be well above average for this time of year. There is a high risk of flooding in low-lying areas, areas with poor drainage and coastal areas affected by high tides

Much of the Central and South Florida region has an interconnected water management system, and flood control is the responsibility of county/city governments, local drainage districts, communities (including homeowner’s associations or HOAs), and the county. Additionally, the district will work with drainage partners to ensure as much water drainage as possible in affected areas.

Copyright 2024 The Center of the Storm. Public media outlets WGCU, the National Weather Service and AccuWeather contributed to this report.