Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Debby Does A Deluge On Florida Panhandle

Tropical Storm Debby is not as impressive on satellite as it was a couple of days ago, a victim of some unfavorable upper level winds in the atmosphere plus upwelling from a sit-and-spin scenario over the Northeastern Gulf. That said, it has been a prolific rain maker for Florida (more on that in a minute). Debby is inching to the east and should work towards a Florida crossing on Wednesday and Thursday.  You can see the satellite presentation of Debby below, showing the heaviest rains and thunderstorms over Florida while the center remains over water -- strong southwest winds aloft have been preventing storm strengthening and have been responsible for shearing the storm.

Despite the shear, it has been quite the rainmaker, as evidenced by the photos of flooding out of Clearwater from Sunday and the reports of twenty inches of rain in Wakulla County, Florida (near the "Big Bend" of Florida on its Gulf Coast).  Rainfall estimates from doppler radar (below) show a healthy swath of fifteen or more inches of rain across Florida's Big Bend area -- with ten plus inches of rain common along I-10 in Florida so far...with more rain falling today.   Needless to say, the flooding pictures that will come out of Florida over the next few days will be pretty epic.

Debby will move slowly east and then northeast....but at this time does not pose a threat to the Mid Atlantic. Its slow movement and the presence of a frontal boundary this weekend nearby should be enough to keep the storm to our south and then east as it moves along...assuming it survives the trek across Florida.  Operational computer models (GFS, UK, Euro) all support a track several hundred miles to our southeast...with only the tropical-centric models (GFDL, HWRF) keeping the storm anywhere near the US. Note that the statistical performance of those tropical models historically fades as storms gain latitude and gradually take on less tropical characteristics...so their reliability is not the greatest.   With a bit of a trough positioned over the East Coast and a frontal boundary lurking nearby over the weekend to effectively "deflect" the storm away, odds favor this storm staying away from our neck of the woods...if it even remains a storm after its passage over Florida in a couple of days.

More on Debby:  Wunderground | NHC | Tallahassee Democrat (newspaper)