May 21, 2009

Flood-weary Florida braces for more rain

ORLANDO, Fla., May 21 (UPI) -- Northeast and Central Florida, already besieged by heavy flooding, is expected to be hit by another wave of torrential rain, forecasters said Thursday.

Rotating storms prompted officials to declare a tornado warning overnight in an area about 6 miles east of the Kennedy Space Center, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Fast-paced storm cells, moving at 25-30 mph, had the potential to produce torrential downpours, lightning and possibly a waterspout, National Weather Service officials in Melbourne, Fla., said.

The severe weather could dump up to 4 inches of rain, worsening flooding in areas with poor drainage and standing water, the newspaper said. Officials posted a flood watch in Orange, Lake, Seminole, Volusia and Brevard counties.

The heaviest rain and thunderstorms was forecast over New Orleans, Mobile, Ala., and Pensacola, Fla., Friday into Saturday, said. Forecasters said Florida weather would remain unsettled through the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

In northeastern Florida, residents prepared for more showers and thunderstorms, the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville reported. NWS meteorologist Jason Deese forecast heavy downpours Thursday, but said the storm front was expected to shift to the west as the weekend approaches.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office closed almost a dozen intersections Wednesday because of flooding. In Clay County, the sheriff's office reported a section of Allie Murray Road in Middleburg was swept away by flood waters.

Lt. Bill Leeper of the Florida Highway Patrol told the Times-Union troopers responded to about 75 crashes in a 10-hour span Wednesday.

"It was a nightmare out there," he said. "We'd wrap up one crash and get called straight to another."

Source: UPI

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