Freak “S” shaped storm unleashes biblical rain in Pensacola, Mobile

Huge weather system - forming an inverted "S" shape - seen over the U.S. Tuesday night. (CIMSS)

Huge weather system – forming a tilted “S” shape – seen over the U.S. Tuesday night. (CIMSS)

A rare and extreme weather pattern has produced obscene and devastating amounts of rainfall from Mobile, Alabama to Pensacola, Florida.  Up to 2 feet of rain fell in the last 24 hours in isolated locations in this region.

Pensacola and Mobile both officially received over 11 inches of rain, the third highest daily totals dating back over 130 years, according to Capital_Climate on Twitter.

Nearby, doppler radar estimates totals over 20 inches.

Doppler estimated rainfall totals in Pensacola and Mobile areas. (National Weather Service)

Doppler estimated rainfall totals in Pensacola and Mobile areas. (National Weather Service)

The Escambia Sheriff’s Office in Pensacola logged over 26 inches according to WeatherBug.

Remarkably, these rainfall totals bested scores of moisture-laden tropical storms and hurricanes that have come through this region over the last century.

The impacts of the flash flooding have been devastating, as the flood waters have taken out bridges and formed destructive sink holes. The video and pictures are not to be believed…

The exceptional rainfall totals reflect a rare weather pattern forming a massive tilted “S” across the U.S (see flow pattern in center panel and satellite image in right panel, below).

Via Stu Ostro on Facebook: "Extremely strong blocking ridge of high pressure, convoluted flow, vivid S shape on satellite image earlier today instead of typical comma with cyclone."

Via Stu Ostro on Facebook: “Extremely strong blocking ridge of high pressure, convoluted flow, vivid S shape on satellite image earlier today instead of typical comma with cyclone.”

Unusually intense high pressure over Canada and low pressure over the central U.S.  (see left panel in image above) have formed an extreme pressure couplet around which the weather has flowed (center and right panels).  Along the southern flank of this massive weather system, near-historic quantities of moisture has been drawn out of the Gulf of Mexico – setting the stage for the extraordinary rain totals.

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Governor Rick Scott of Florida declared a state of emergency in 26 counties in the Florida panhandle on Wednesday, with some areas receiving up to 22 inches of rain so far.

The National Weather Service says people around Pensacola, Fla. are trapped in their homes after as much as 20 inches of rain swamped the area. Meteorologists say more could fall today.

Also on Capital Weather Gang

D.C. area forecast: Heavy rain, storms, and maybe a tornado too