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Flash Flood Watch Issued For Northwest Florida Ahead Of Possible Soaker

Several inches of rain over the next few days will create conditions that favor flash flooding over the western Florida Panhandle. Severe thunderstorms are possible as part of a second wave on Thursday afternoon and evening.

The National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Watch for Escambia and Santa Rosa counties Tuesday morning. The watch goes into effect at 7 PM Tuesday evening and lasts until Friday morning. The Flash Flood Watch means the ingredients for flash flooding -- such as repeated heavy rainfall from slow-moving thunderstorms -- may come together over a large area. It is not expected to rain continuously and not all areas will experience flash flooding.

The various forecast models that meteorologists consult for guidance generally indicate the heaviest rain will come in two primary waves: the first is expected to arrive early Tuesday evening and last until Wednesday morning. The second wave is most likely Thursday afternoon and night, and could be accompanied by isolated tornadoes, large hail, and damaging winds. Scattered downpours are possible in between the two waves and could worsen any flooding that occurs with the initial wave.

5 to 10 inches of rain are possible with the most persistent thunderstorms between Tuesday evening and Friday according to the National Weather Service. The highest rainfall amounts are most likely in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, and westward along the Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana Gulf coasts, where widespread 2 to 5 inch amounts are possible. Rainfall amounts of 1 to 3 inches are likely as far east as Fort Walton, Destin, Miramar, Crestview, and Defuniak Springs.

Credit Megan Borowski / FPREN

Strong high-altitude winds are forecast to overspread the western Florida Panhandle Thursday afternoon and night above an increasingly humid and unstable atmosphere. These conditions would make severe thunderstorms -- including tornadoes, large hail, and damaging, straight-line winds -- a possibility. The most favored area for this weather is from northeast Louisiana into Mississippi, western Alabama, and middle and western Tennessee, but is also possible into the western Panhandle. Residents are strongly encouraged to occasionally monitor forecasts in the coming days.

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Ray Hawthorne