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Wetter, More Humid Pattern Returns This Week

The drier pattern that had settled into the Sunshine State the last two weeks of September is not likely to last much longer.

Flash Flood Watches are in effect through Tuesday evening for much of the Florida Panhandle from Panama City west to Pensacola. Heavy rain had already prompted Flash Flood Warnings in parts of Walton, Okaloosa, and Santa Rosa counties early Monday morning. Drier air persisted over the remainder of the state to start the week, but a change in the weather pattern will erode the dry air.

A deep trough of low pressure is expected to stall over the lower Mississippi River Valley for much of this week. At the same time, the strong subtropical ridge that had been dominating the state will shift into the Atlantic waters. The winds between these two systems will be out of the south, which will transport moisture northward as the week progresses. This moisture will lead to an increase in showers and a few thunderstorms over the interior of the state, mainly during the afternoon and evening hours. Coastal areas, especially along the Nature Coast, could see showers each morning. Despite the increase in moisture, average rainfall over the peninsula should be less than an inch this week, but there will be neighborhoods that see locally more in scattered downpours.

The Panhandle is in line to see the most rain. 2 to 5 inches are forecast within the Flash Flood Watch area over the western Panhandle. The National Weather Service says a few spots could receive in excess of 6 inches. This heavy rain will fall over areas that have been abnormally wet -- even by wet season standards -- over the summer months. It makes these areas more vulnerable to flash flooding.

A slow decrease in rain coverage is forecast over the Panhandle by Thursday. However, rain chances are likely to stay elevated over the peninsula late this week into next weekend.

The tropics have quieted down now that Hurricane Sam has bypassed Bermuda and is recurving into the open Atlantic Ocean. Victor weakened to a tropical depression over the open ocean. The Hurricane Center is monitoring an area of disturbed weather near the Bahamas. It has a low chance of development later this week or next weekend, but strong wind shear is likely to prevent it from becoming a powerful system.

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Ray Hawthorne