Saturday, September 17, 2011

Heaviest Rain in 3 years Blitzes the Beaches

Saturday September 17, 2011

Now that is what you call a deluge or a local nor'easter! You are looking at what portions of A1A looked like overnight especially from Jacksonville Beach all the way to Ponte Vedra Beach. These areas have a rainfall deficit of about two feet over the past two years and in one night we made up about a foot of it! There was a good swath of 8 to 10 inch rains as you crossed the Intracoastal Waterway. Several cars stalled out in the flooded roadways and some had water inside their cars up to their knees. A1A had some spots with 3 feet of water early this morning! Luckily, everybody is okay which isn't always the case when you have a flood event taking place at night. Most folks drown in their cars because they do not realize it only takes about a foot of moving water to sweep their vehicle. So the motto this morning on Good Morning Jacksonville is Turn Around Don't Drown and never cross a  roadway covered by water!

Your only live doppler radar lit up more than it had in just over 3 years since Tropical Storm Fay ambushed the beaches with over 12 inches of rain on August 22, 2008. Here is a good picture of the rainfall estimates. Notice how it was a thin, convergent band of heavy rain which is often the case with these local nor'easters this time of year. This is local nor'easter season when we can see the heaviest rainfall of the year from these weather phenomenon. It is another reason why September is our wettest month, with rainfall averaging just over 8 inches. Last night some areas saw a months worth of rainfall and then some in only a few hours! The only weather events that actually bring more rain to the Jacksonville areas would come from tropical systems. Check out some of these specific rainfall totals!

Some folks would have called in rainfall but they said they could not get an accurate reading since their rain gauges overflowed. George in Craig Field  sent this picture in showing his gauge filled to the brim as the rain bore down. Other areas this morning near Cecil Field and Keystone Heights were wondering what all the fuss was about and still have me crossed off their Christmas list until they get their needed rain. Yes, I am not everybody's best friend on this Saturday!

This rain was a huge deal because rain gauges have had more ash in them than rain drops it seems over the past several months. Our fire season which usually ends in early July has continued here into September. It certainly has been one of our longest fire seasons ever and it may just continue right into next year. Some folks at the beach cannot remember the last time it rained that hard and said it was like a wall of water that came in off the ocean in an instant. That is another reason why having the only live doppler radar is important. We do get big weather events in Florida and more often than you think.

You see what caused last night's drenching. Folks at the beach said it was an incredible lightning show to go with those mind-boggling rainfall rates of 2 to 3 inches an hour. We had a cold front stall out over the area and this was the strongest front of the season. So what happened is you had a clash of the seasons as much cooler air collided with water temperatures still in the lower to middle 80s! This created a very unstable atmosphere and you had training of rain due to the stalled out front with the perfect convergence set up as the cooler northeast wind hit the warm Atlantic Ocean.

The rest of this afternoon notice we will have more clouds than rain and I am not expecting any more flooding. The clouds will tend to stabilize the atmosphere and even though we still have a stalled front over the area the main area of low pressure will remain well offshore. Boaters will see most of the rain along with a small craft advisory well offshore with a gusty northeast wind near 30 knots. at times. So the areas that were missed last night will not have much rain to write home about today as well with less than .25" expected with many of us just remaining dry. Just keep in mind if enough sunshine does pop out in the inland locations this could be enough to cause some brief heavy downpours and this includes the Gators game. But any rain will not last very long like we saw last night at the beaches.

There officially still is a flood watch for Duval and St. Johns County which means we will be watching things closely but I am not expecting any more flooding today. Tonight we will have to watch areas from St. Augustine southward to Flagler Beach for maybe another heavier band of showers that sets up that may drop over an inch of rain along the beaches. But right now I just do not see a repeat of last night.

The second part of our weekend may bring another surge of moisture in time for Sunday afternoon but after last night let's just take it one day at a time. I do not think Sunday will be a washout by any means.

Enjoy today's cooler temperatures. Many areas, especially in Georgia may not get out of the 70s! We have real football weather! We also cleared out most of the smoke, now hopefully we can get some rain for the rest of us. The long-range models are at least favoring more rain chances going through the middle of next week. Our pattern favors more clouds and rain than sun over the next couple weeks so if you have missed out on the rain there is hope. We will talk more about this and have a drought update here on the blog and live on the air tonight at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. Make sure to check back and tune in! Have a wonderful weekend.

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