Debby, the minimal tropical storm which has sat and spun over the northeast Gulf of Mexico for several days, has produced rainfall totals in north Florida not to be believed, exceeding 20” in spots. Additional heavy rain is forecast, likely worsening ongoing flooding in the region.
At 11 a.m., Debby was positioned 70 miles west of Cedar Key, Florida. The storm, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph, is crawling east at 3 mph. Some weakening is forecast by the National Hurricane Center, and Debby is likely to become a tropical depression as it crosses the Florida peninsula in the next 24-48 hours.
Even as Debby weakens, it’s expected to remain a prolific rain-producer. Another 4-8 inches of rain is possible over north Florida and extreme southeast Georgia through Thursday.
Thus far, the highest rainfall totals have occurred in Wakulla county, just south of Tallahassee. One location, Sanborn Raws, has received 26.21” over the last 72 hours according to reports, 20” of that in just 24 hours. AccuWeather’s Jesse Ferrell reports 28.95” has fallen over the last three days in St. Marks, Fl. (25.92 in the last two days).
The National Weather Service in Tallahasee, Fl offered the following summary of the effects from rainfall in this region:
During Monday evening into the overnight hours, there were numerous reports of significant flooding across the Florida big bend. This includes multiple reports of road closures, powerlines down, water over roads and flooded homes across eastern most panhandle eastward thru southeast big bend.
So much rain has fallen in north Florida that the Florida High Patrol closed portions of Interstate 10 according to the Associated Press (AP).
“Troopers reported several areas of flooding on a roughly 50-mile stretch of the east-west interstate east of where it crosses I-75 and the agency warned motorists to use extreme caution on other parts of the highway,” the AP said.
Link: Southeast U.S. radar
The combination of double digit rainfall totals and a tidal surge has resulted in particularly dangerous flooding situation in coastal sections. The NWS office in Tallahassee cautioned:
EXCESSIVE RAINFALL COMBINED WITH STORM SURGE IS CREATING HISTORIC FLOODING IN SOME AREAS ALONG THE COAST. THOSE NEAR THE COAST NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO DIRECTIONS FROM EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT OFFICIALS.
Although more heavy rain is forecast in the region, the overall coverage is decreasing as the storm weakens.
The silver lining is that, finally, steering currents in the atmosphere should pick Debby up and carry it away Wednesday into Thursday - giving this water-logged region an opportunity to dry out.