TALLAHASSEE – Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) officials urge Florida’s residents and visitors to remain aware this weekend and into next week, as two storm systems bring the potential for significant rainfall and flood risks to the Florida Panhandle. Some areas may see up to four inches of rainfall through Tuesday, with locally heavier amounts of up to eight inches possible. The National Weather Service has issued Flash Flood Watches for Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Calhoun, and Jackson Counties through Saturday.
“Two storm systems moving across the Southeast will bring heavy amounts of rainfall and widespread potential for flooding in the Florida Panhandle,” said FDEM Meteorologist Brad Schaaf. “Floridians should monitor these systems closely and take necessary precautions should a flood watch or warning be issued for their area. If you encounter a flooded roadway it is important to remember, Turn Around, Don’t Drown.”
In addition, river flooding is a concern for the Florida Panhandle. The Choctawhatchee River near Bruce and the Escambia River near Century are currently in minor flood stage. The Chipola River near Marianna and Altha and the Apalachicola River near Blounstown may also see elevated flooding potential with this system. Along with heavy rainfall, the storm systems bring a risk of severe thunderstorms and damaging wind gusts, and the Storm Prediction Center has placed a portion of the Florida Panhandle under a slight risk for severe storms for Friday.
To avoid getting caught in a flood, follow these safety rules:
• Have a NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio in your home or office to receive warnings from the National Weather Service. Monitoring a NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio or a trusted local news outlet provides a vital source for updates on local weather.
• If flooding occurs, get to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding, including dips, low spots, canals, ditches, etc.
• Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams.
• NEVER drive through flooded roadways. Road beds may be washed out under flood waters, and just one foot of fast-moving flood water can move most cars off the road.
• Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.
• Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize potential flood dangers.