Storm with tropical development potential to trigger flood risk across Florida
By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
May 16, 2018, 6:31:34 AM EDT
Drenching downpours, gusty winds and strong thunderstorms will blast Florida this week due to a storm that originated in the tropics.
"The storm is running out of time for a tropical or even subtropical depression to form," according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.
Marginal water temperatures over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico will prevent rapid organization and a drift onshore by the middle of the week will seal the storm's fate, Kottlowski said.
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Regardless of development, the storm will continue to pump tropical air up from the Caribbean Sea and spread downpours and thunderstorms northward.
Steering winds will guide the storm northward over the eastern Gulf of Mexico through Tuesday night.
The storm is projected to move inland along the Florida Panhandle sometime on Wednesday.
It could travel as far west as the Alabama and Florida border before taking a slow, curved path across the eastern U.S. later this week.
Drought-busting rain to come at a price
While rain will be beneficial amid drought conditions, flash flooding is a threat.
Localized rainfall amounts may top 6 inches from Tuesday to Sunday. Some parts of South Florida already received between 2 and 5 inches of rain from the storm from this past Saturday to Monday.
Rainfall directly associated with the storm is forecast to spread over the Southeastern states through Tuesday.
During the middle and latter part of the week, the tropical downpours will join up with other showers and thunderstorms across the mid-Atlantic and Ohio Valley.
Motorists should seek an alternative route over higher ground. People in flood-prone areas should closely monitor small streams and storm drains in their neighborhoods for rapid rises in water levels.
The storm could eliminate the pockets of moderate to severe drought across South Florida, southern Georgia and South Carolina.
In addition to flooding, isolated severe weather will become a hazard. Some of the strongest thunderstorms may produce a brief tornado or waterspout.
People spending time outdoors should seek shelter at the first sign of an approaching thunderstorm.
The large storm will also create hazardous winds and rough surf in coastal areas. Until the storm moves well inland later this week, there will be locally strong rip currents and the chance of minor coastal flooding.
The initial surge of showers and thunderstorms will hit during the first part of the week. Rain will taper off by the second half of the week, but pick back up again over the weekend.
While the downpours will cool the air slightly, tropical air will bring up humidity levels.
The rainy season has begun. The overall weather pattern favors a continuation of sporadic downpours on a daily basis across much of Florida.
Area to watch in late-May: Northwestern Caribbean Sea
There is some indication that showers and thunderstorms may gather over the northwestern Caribbean and near Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula next week.
Waters are sufficiently warm for tropical development in this area early in the season. The area will need to be monitored.
Steering winds may allow any feature that develops in this part of the tropics next week to drift northward prior to the end of May.
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