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Stormy Weather On Tap For Panhandle


  Residents and businesses from Pensacola to Tampa are being urged to prepare for heavy rainfall and possible flooding through the end of this week.

At this time, the National Weather Service in Mobile is forecasting nine to 12 inches of rain along the western Florida Panhandle into coastal Alabama.

“It’s not a tropical storm, but rather a disturbance that has tropical connections,” says Jeff Huffman, a meteorologist with the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network [FPREN]. “It will move west by midweek, and that will bring additional heavy rain to portions of the Panhandle, especially near the coast.”

Jason Beaman, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Mobile, says the amount of rain will vary, as the system moves slowly. There’s also a chance of flooding along creeks and rivers, along with the potential for flash flooding.

“In this type of system, you probably get some areas that see higher than that,” says Beaman. “And some areas may see less than that. That’s just the nature of these deep tropical systems. But the possibility of a foot of rain in some spots has to be prepared for as we go through this week.”

Flash flooding could occur in areas that receive rain amounts in excess of three inches in a short period of time.

State and county emergency managers are keeping tabs on that weather system. Escambia County’s John Dosh says they’re considering a number of preparations as part of their flood plan.

“One of the things we’re looking at is any of the holding ponds that are in the areas that are typically problematic,” says Dosh. “Making sure they’re at lower levels and if not, making sure they’re pumping them down.”

Escambia County Emergency Operations dealt with major flooding in 2012 and two years ago. But Dosh says this round of storms likely will not approach those levels. Most importantly he says, this week should serve as a reminder that we’re only about halfway through the 2016 hurricane season.

“I think it is a very good opportunity for us to review our plans,” says Dosh. Make sure we have our disaster supply kits together, make sure we’ve got the appropriate insurances whatever that is, and just asking the questions, the ‘What Ifs.’”

One possible silver lining in the upcoming dark clouds, is that the rain is expected to provide some relief to the swelter of the past few weeks. But forecaster Jason Beaman says that’s a mixed bag, at best.

“The high temperatures will be a little bit cooler based on the clouds and the rain,” says Beaman. “Our heat indices, well over 100 degrees will be less common as we go through the week. [But] it’s going to be very, very humid and that’s going to continue the rest of this week.”

Besides monitoring the weather, residents are also advised to turn off automatic sprinkler systems until after the storms; get sandbags if needed, and clear yards debris, such as limbs and leaves, that could clog up drains.