Tropical storm Debby generates incredible rainfall over north Florida


Visible view of Debby at 12:30 p.m. Monday ET from NASA’s Terra satellite. (NASA)

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.


Doppler estimated rainfall totals in north Forida over the last four days. The white shading south of Tallahasee indicates more than 20” has fallen. (National Weather Service)

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.


Debby track forecast (National Hurricane Center)

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.

Jason is currently the Washington Post’s weather editor. A native Washingtonian, Jason has been a weather enthusiast since age 10.

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