Florida Forecast: Up to 10 inches of rain and flooding are expected
A convergence of storm systems developing in the Gulf of Mexico and off Florida’s east coast is expected to bring a consistent pattern of heavy rainfall to the Miami area Wednesday into Thursday, potentially resulting in flash flooding, potentially worsened by high tides.
There is a moderate risk of widespread heavy rainfall of three to eight inches, which could lead to flash flooding from the Florida Keys through Miami and Fort Lauderdale to Boynton Beach. Forecasters at the Weather Prediction Center said computer forecast models show there could be heavy rainfall within the Keys on Wednesday morning, extending northward in the afternoon.
Some uncertainty in the forecast
Although flood rains were imminent Wednesday morning, meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Miami said there was still some uncertainty about the timing of the heaviest rainfall and the exact location of the highest amounts. It depends on how quickly the storm system develops off the southeastern coast of Florida, but the best indicator is that the bulk of the precipitation will fall Wednesday afternoon into early Thursday morning.
Despite those anomalies, forecasters at the Weather Prediction Center said models show a strong 90 percent chance of five inches or more of rain across the Upper Keys in an area stretching from Homestead to Miami, giving them confidence in heavy rain.
High tides and saturated soil may make this worse.
Most of this area already has saturated soil from recent rains, especially in Broward and South Palm Beach counties, where three to six inches of rain fell on Tuesday. The earth acts like a sponge: if you keep adding water to it, eventually it can’t hold up anymore.
Meteorologists at the Met Office said it all depends on timing, but if heavy rain also falls during high tide periods in some coastal communities, there will be a problem with the water receding. The tides are not relatively high as they were when the tides peaked last month, but with the new moon and a strong onshore breeze, they will be moderately high on Wednesday.
When will it end?
This will likely only last for 24 hours. As the storm system moves through the area and up the coast, things should start to calm down Thursday evening. Conditions should gradually improve as drier air filters into the cooler air pushing through the area.
As of Wednesday morning, it was too early to tell whether the system would bring heavy rain along the East Coast as it moves north in the coming days.