Extreme rainfall swamps Florida panhandle, Southeast

A relentless train of heavy showers and thunderstorms has deluged Panama City and parts of the Florida panhandle over the last 48 hours, with some areas receiving nearly 20 inches of rain.


Doppler estimated rainfall over the last 48 hours around Panama City, Fl.

Panama City Beach has tallied over a foot of rain, with nearby Inlet Beach recording an astounding 19.14 inches through early this morning.

Link: Rainfall totals from the National Weather Service

The rain postponed July 4th fireworks activities in Panama City which have been rescheduled for tonight.

NBC TV affiliate WJHG reports the flooding shut down numerous roads while affiliate WMBB says tow trucks had to pull cars out of the flood waters.

More heavy rain may deluge the region says the National Weather Service:

For a third consecutive day, the potential exists for torrential downpours across portions of the forecast area. Unfortunately, it appears that the most likely area to see substantially more rainfall will be portions of the Florida Panhandle that have already experienced flash flooding from rainfall totals in excess of 6-12 inches over the past two days. An additional 3 to 5 inches could fall in these same areas today and tonight. Even half this amount could result in more flash flooding.

Additional heavy rainfall forecast through Saturday in the Florida panhandle (National Weather Service)
Additional heavy rainfall forecast through Saturday in the Florida panhandle (National Weather Service)

While more flooding remains a possibility, the NWS’ latest forecast discussion offers some guarded optimism:

While heavy rainfall and additional flooding will remain a concern across parts of the County Warning Area (mainly in the areas that have already received copious amounts of rain), signs are beginning to take place in a positive direction. Diminishing trends in [precipitable water], rainfall rates, and areal coverage are all being observed

Dark green areas have flood watches in effect. Light green areas are under flood advisories or flood warnings. Dark green areas have flood watches in effect. Light green areas are under flood advisories or flood warnings.

In addition to the flooding around Panama City, a huge area of the Southeast U.S. is covered by flood watches due to the onslaught of tropical moisture, straight from the Gulf of Mexico.

An area of high pressure off the North Carolina coast is acting like pump, flushing the region with water.

In Decatur, Alabama, TV affiliate WAFF reports widespread flooding of streets and low-lying areas.


NAM model simulation shows heavy rain being pumped into the Southeast by an area of high pressure off the coast of the Carolinas (WeatherBell.com)

Here’s a video of some of the flooding, in Decatur as well as Panama City:

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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