Post-Tropical Storm Nestor is charging across Florida’s Gulf Coast, with heavy rain, strong winds, the risk of tornadoes, and a potentially dangerous storm surge. The center of the storm made landfall near St. Vincent Island, Florida, between noon and 1 p.m. ET.
Rain from Nestor is also sweeping over eastern Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. It will spread farther northeast through the Carolinas on Saturday and Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Delaware from Saturday night into Sunday.
East of Tampa on Friday night, the storm spawned several tornadoes that damaged homes and a school and overturned tractor trailers. A tornado watch remained in effect over much of the central part of the Florida peninsula Saturday morning.
The storm has also generated significant coastal inundation. Its storm surge, or rise in water above normally dry land, reached 3.2 feet at Apalachicola, Fla., early Saturday.
Tropical storm and storm surge warnings cover much of the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend areas.
Centered 5 miles west-southwest of Apalachicola, Florida at 1 p.m. Saturday, the lopsided storm is barreling northeast at 23 mph. Nestor’s maximum sustained winds had weakened to 50 mph as of Saturday morning, down from 60 mph Friday night. The storm made landfall early Saturday afternoon along the Florida Panhandle.
Already losing its tropical characteristics, Nestor is forecast to weaken after landfall and as it moves inland across Georgia and into the Carolinas.
Almost all of the hazardous weather in Florida associated with Nestor has occurred east of the center with the storm’s heavy rain bands lashing the peninsula. Within those bands, a few tornadoes could still spin up.
A 'life-threatening’ storm surge threat
Through much of Saturday, the storm’s most significant hazard is likely to be its surge.
“There is a danger of life-threatening storm surge inundation of up to 5 feet above ground level along the Florida Gulf Coast from Indian Pass to Clearwater Beach,” the National Hurricane Center wrote.
The center forecasts a potential inundation of three to five feet above normally dry ground from Indian Pass to Chassahowitzka, Fla., if the peak surge hits at high tide.
Farther south, from Chassahowitzka to Clearwater Beach, Fla., a potential inundation of two to four feet above normally dry ground could occur, if the peak surge occurs at high tide.
And for Tampa Bay, a storm surge inundation of one to three feet is anticipated.
Several inches of rain possible from Florida to southern Mid-Atlantic
As the storm swings northeastward, it will unload moderate to heavy rainfall throughout the Southeast and into the Mid-Atlantic.
Many areas from the Florida peninsula to the southern Delmarva Peninsula could see one to four inches of rain with isolated higher amounts through Sunday morning. Lighter rains of around 0.25 to 0.5 inches are expected in the Washington area, mainly Sunday morning.
Because of the storm’s fast movement and drought conditions in many of the areas where rain is forecast, only isolated cases of flooding area are expected. The rainfall is likely to be mostly beneficial.