May 19, 2009

Floridians Enduring Flooding and Dangerous Surf; Subtropical Troubles?

A storm located to the southeast of the Florida Peninsula has a low potential for the development of a possible early season tropical system over the next few days. Regardless of whether the system develops enough tropical characteristics to be named a tropical system, it will deliver drenching showers and storms that will cause flooding and rough surf across portions of Florida through midweek.

It is not out of the question that the system could even become the first named storm, Ana, of 2009 in the Atlantic Basin, whether it is a tropical storm or subtropical storm.

A subtropical cyclone, as defined by the National Hurricane Center, is a non-frontal low pressure system that has characteristics of both tropical and extratropical cyclones. When these cyclones have maximum-sustained winds over 39 mph, they can receive a name off the official tropical cyclone lists.

More heavy showers and storms will soak portions of Florida and southern Georgia as the low pressure center nears the Miami area today and pushes across South Florida tonight.

Torrential rain and resultant flooding are likely to occur in urban areas, including in Miami, Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando and Savannah as the storm continues to drift into the central Gulf of Mexico through the middle of the week. More than 4 inches of rain will fall over a zone spanning some of these cities.

Despite street flooding, road closures and potential flooding of basements of homes and businesses, most of the rain will be beneficial in the long term across drought-stricken areas. According to the most recent release from the U.S. Drought Monitor on May 12th, 2009, central and southern parts of Florida are enduring severe and extreme drought conditions.

The storm will also produce high winds, battering the coastlines of eastern Florida and South Carolina in the next few days. Beach erosion, coastal flooding and rough surf and rip currents will threaten these areas. Swimmers and surfers are urged to heed any watches and warnings about the dangerous surf. By Thursday and Friday, residents of the west coast of Florida will have to watch for the pounding surf.

A few of the storms could produce gusty winds and even a waterspout as well, but the main concern will be the flooding that results their heavy downpours.

By Meghan Evans

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