As I alluded to in last Friday's blog, a named tropical system has developed in the Gulf of Mexico. By now, I'm sure you've heard, the name is Debby. And Florida has already had quite enough of Debby, with 2 days of heavy rainfall, and perhaps 3-5 more days of it for some parts of northern Florida.
As of Monday evening, Debby is a weak tropical storm by classification (winds only ~45 mph...) but powerful in impacts, especially in flooding rainfall. Debby was nearly stationary in movement, making her an unwelcome guest that just won't leave. For the latest advisory and conditions on Debby, click here to visit the National Hurricane Center's website.
As we well know locally, it's not always about the high winds, but sometimes the rainfall impact and resultant flooding can be the most devastating effect of tropical systems. Rainfall totals have already topped the 10" mark in some parts of the west-central Florida coast, with 6-12" more possible a bit farther north near . Widespread flooding has been a large part of the problems with Debby, but the threat of an occasional tornado spin up also looms under the expansive reach of Debby. The image just below shows the accumulated rain over the past 7 days. Take a look at the purple colors, and the correlation to 10-15+" of rain just north of Tampa...an entire Summer's worth of rainfall for Tampa, fallen in just a few days!
This next image (below) shows the 5 day forecast of precipitation from the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (HPC) with another bullseye of 17" or perhaps more just slightly north of the same region already inundated with water.
This amount of water would push several area rivers in major flood stage. Check out this river gauge and forecast for the Sopchoppy River in the Florida panhandle just east of Panama City... The forecast shows the river heading to major flood stage, even HISTORIC! The forecast river crest is at a level nearly 10 feet HIGHER than the highest crest on record.
On one hand, Debby might have been welcomed to certain extent. Florida did need some rain. Pre-Debby, the US Drought Monitor diagnosed some parts of northn Florida in a moderate to severe drought, having received very little rainfall so far this year. A little rain would have been helpful, but not so much all at once.
Again, with the VERY slow movement of Debby, the forecast takes her over the northern portion of Florida over the next 3-4 days, slowly dissipating to a tropical depression (winds less than 39 mph). Regardless of strength in wind speed, Debby will continue to be a huge flood threat for Florida. Continue to monitor local statements from the National Weather Service in Florida (click here for Tallahassee/north Florida and click here for north central/western Florida/ Tampa) if you plan to travel there anytime within the next week or 2.
After Friday, some models take Debby up the east coast which could bring impacts along the Carolinas, and perhaps eventually a high rip current threat and high surf to parts of southern New England as the remnants of Debby scoot out through the Atlantic (several hundreds of miles away from the New England coast). Let's give that a few more days.