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Heavy Rains Soak Northwest Florida


A flash flood watch is in effect for the Florida Panhandle until 1:00 a.m. Tuesday, as heavy rain inundated the area on Monday.

A wind advisory also remained in effect through 7:00 p.m. Monday. The east-southeast winds are whipping up surf and causing a high risk of rip currents through tomorrow morning.

“During that time period we’re going to get most of the rainfall; 3-6 inches is possible,” said John Werner at the National Weather Service in Mobile. He adds that the main concerns are low-lying areas and areas with poor drainage which are prone to flooding.

Much of the rain is from the remnants of Hurricane Patricia – which hit Mexico’s Pacific coast last week. But, Werner says that storm is just one of the culprits.

“Part of [Patricia] did merge with a system over Texas, and over the Gulf of Mexico with all that warm air and moisture it really blew up,” Werner said.

Fort Pickens has been closed. Dan Brown, the Superintendent at Gulf Islands National Seashore, points to a Fort Pickens Road that’s buried in sand and water, at a level making it dangerous on which to travel.

“We have evacuated staff,” Brown said. “We’re making an effort to evacuate the campground, but the weather came on us too hard and too fast. Looks like the campers are going to have to just hunker down until we can get the road reopened.”

Brown says the campers there are safe – as long as they don’t try to move around on Fort Pickens Road.

On the positive side, this is not another Hurricane Ivan or Dennis, which ripped up the roadway and led to a lengthy repair and replacement process. Brown says what’s absent here is the major storm surge of a tropical storm or hurricane. Meanwhile, the discussion is underway on when to reopen Fort Pickens. But don’t expect that for the next couple of days at least.

“We probably won’t be able to make an assessment until Wednesday morning,” said Brown. In all likelihood it will be closed probably into and maybe even though Wednesday.”

Gulf Power reported nearly 2,700 customers without electricity in its service area from Escambia to Bay County at the height of the rain on Monday. Coastal flooding was also reported. The Pensacola Interstate Fair was closed, but is scheduled to reopen Tuesday at its normal starting time of 4:00 p.m.

There is a respite on the way. The heavy rain will give way to clearing skies, perhaps as early as Tuesday. A cold front moving in at that time is also expected to bring dry air and moderate temperatures – highs in the 80s, and lows in the 50s.