May 18, 2009

Much needed rain moves across Florida’s peninsula

Rain moves across Florida’s peninsula, where some locations reported record-setting dryness from November to April.

A cold front pushing through central Florida this afternoon will stall across south Florida on Tuesday in response to an upper level circulation that will strengthen over the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Widespread showers and thunderstorms today are providing beneficial rains along with a significant amount of lightning strikes throughout the Florida peninsula. A few strong to isolated severe thunderstorms are possible this afternoon for areas south of the Interstate 4 corridor, with damaging wind gusts and hail being the primary threats along with frequent lightning strikes and heavy downpours.

Meanwhile, tropical moisture in association with a mid-level circulation currently moving northward towards the central and western Bahamas will be drawn into the Florida peninsula on Tuesday. This influx of additional moisture in conjunction with the upper level circulation and stalled frontal boundary in the region will result in widespread heavy downpours continuing into Tuesday and potentially Wednesday. South Florida and the Treasure coast should receive widespread 2-4” totals with locally heavier amounts upwards of 5” on Tuesday in addition to downpours that occur this afternoon and tonight ahead of the stalling frontal boundary. While much of this rainfall will be beneficial in areas that are experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions, urban and localized flooding will be possible tomorrow in this region.

Computer models are in general agreement that a broad low pressure center will form near or over the Florida peninsula by late Tuesday, with a northwestward motion during the mid and later portions of this week. Should this low pressure center enter the Gulf of Mexico as expected, there is a small possibility that it could acquire subtropical characteristics before moving onshore along the panhandle coast by Friday or Saturday. The difference in pressure between this complex system and a strong high pressure center that will position itself over the Mid-Atlantic states will increase onshore east and northeasterly winds all along the state’s Atlantic coast. Building surf will create a high risk of rip currents along Florida’s Atlantic beaches along with the potential for coastal flooding and beach erosion during times of high tide on Tuesday and Wednesday. Coastal impacts are possible later this week along the state’s panhandle, Big Bend, and Nature coasts depending on the strength and organization of the forecast low pressure center in the Gulf of Mexico. Widespread showers and thunderstorms will migrate back towards north Florida as the previously stalled front lifts northwestward in tandem with our potential low pressure center.

Link to the 5-day forecast rainfall totals from the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center:

Ben Nelson
State Meteorologist
Florida Division of Emergency Management
Office: (850) 413-9885
Mobile: (850) 519-8483

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