It rained all day Saturday in Cedar Key. Literally ALL day.
A few miles to the north in Cross City, measurable rain had fallen 42 of the previous 72 hours (as of 5 pm Saturday). And this may be just the beginning of a seemingly continuous rain for days in parts of North Florida.
An abundance of tropical moisture and the continued presence of a weak area of low pressure are the culprits. The deeper moisture translates into heavier rainfall rates, and the low adds lift to the atmosphere to keep the clouds building and rain going. The disturbance is expected to hang out in the northeast Gulf of Mexico through Monday or Tuesday, then only slowly drift to the west and north. The counterclockwise wind pattern around it will keep the tropical moisture streaming across the state for many days in a row.
Heavy rain is almost a guarantee near the Nature Coast, where a Flood Watch has been issued through Tuesday morning. Heavy rain is also expected further inland and across much of the Florida Panhandle during the upcoming work week as the system drifts northwest. An increase in typical afternoon sea breeze showers and thunderstorms is likely across much of central and south Florida as well, thanks to the copious amounts of moisture being funneled in.
Rainfall amounts are expected to range from 6 to 10 inches immediately along the Gulf Coast from Pensacola to Tampa, to 2 to 5 inches further inland along the I-10 and I-75 corridors north of I-4. The rain will be most widespread near the water in the overnight and morning hours, then translate inland each and every afternoon during the period. The type of banding that might occur in a meteorological setup like this may result in large gradients of rainfall accumulation over short distances. It's nearly impossible at this juncture to accurately pinpoint where the highest totals may end up.
Even though many of these areas have been unusually dry lately, the intensity of the tropical rains will likely cause many low-lying areas to flood during and immediately after some of the heavy downpours. In addition to flash flooding, small creeks and streams may rise out of their banks in the coming days. Those living in areas prone to flooding should prepare to take action should flooding develop.
A drier air mass is expected to gradually build into the state from southeast to northwest starting Thursday, resulting in near normal afternoon rain chances and hotter temperatures by the weekend.