Torrential rain prompts street flooding

NWS issues coastal, urban flood advisories, lake wind advisory

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After tropical downpours drenched northeast Florida early Wednesday, the sun finally came out by mid-afternoon, allowing the standing water to drain.  But The Weather Authority says more trouble may be on the horizon.

By 7 a.m. Wednesday, the National Weather Service had already reported 4.9 inches of rain had fallen at the University of North Florida. Other areas, especially along the Southside, San Marco and Riverside, recorded between 2 and 3 inches, resulting in standing water on many streets and snarling the morning commute.

At 9:30 a.m., the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office reported several intersections were impassable due to standing water: State and Newnan streets; Hubbard at Orange; Market and Phelps; Market at Orange; Post Street at Willowbranch; Carder and Lake Shore Boulevard and Park Street southbound from Edgewood to Dancy.

"Don't go through here go on the Interstates and Roosevelt and Blanding to get where you need to go -- too much water," said Riverside resident Becky Tibble.

By 11 a.m., the bands of rain were creeping southward -- into St. Johns and Clay County -- and father inland toward Baker and Columbia counties.

"The last of the big wall of wet weather will move ashore from Ponte Vedra to St. Augustine by 2 o'clock," meteorologist Richard Nunn said on The Local Station at noon.

Channel 4's Blake Mathews said high pressure to the north was providing a strong onshore wind, which is bringing abundant moisture over the area.

"Couple that with a stalled out frontal boundary over our area and heavy rains are erupting over the area. Expect these heavy but isolated downpours throughout the day," Mathews said Wednesday morning.

A coastal and urban flood advisory was in effect for Wednesday along with lake wind advisories. The threat of rip currents is high across the coast, as waves break between 4 and 6 feet.

High tide Wednesday morning saw the water pushed nearly to the dunes.

Meanwhile, San Marco is known to flood during heavy rains, and Wednesday was no different. Because of the rain, cars got stuck traveling through the area and people avoided walking the normally populated streets.

A lot of San Marco's flooding problems are caused by the area's low level during heavy rains. The water just can't drain fast enough.

The water was knee high in some places, making it nearly impossible to drive or walk safely through.

Even with all the heavy flooding in the streets of San Marco, it doesn't take long for it to recede. That's thanks to previous pumping station projects that have improved drainage and reduced area flooding.

Although water gushed over the sidewalks, once the rain stopped the flooding went down in about 20 minutes.

Because of the constant heavy flood waters every time there's a big down pour, San Marco may add a third pump station on Lasalle Street, where the worst of the flooding was.

Jackson Fernot had to taken an alternate route Wednesday, unable to pass through Market Street, just north of downtown.

"From the shower we got today, look at all of this, I wouldn't want to be here for a storm, a real one," he said.

"I know Jacksonville has the money. They need to do something better," said John Brown, who lives near McCoys Creek.

Brown said he's disappointed flood waters continue to rise every time his neighborhood gets just a few inches of rain.

"The city has all this taxpayer money and they haven't done anything with it," Brown said.

Watching the tropics

Wednesday's round of heavy rain was not driven by any tropical cyclone, but forecasters are monitoring an area of disturbed weather near the Yucatan Peninsula. The National Hurricane Center has given this disturbance a 70 percent chance of development in the next 48 hours and an 80 percent chance of development the next five days.

A hurricane reconnaissance plane is scheduled to investigate this system Wednesday afternoon to see if an organized system has formed. If they find a closed area of low pressure, it could be designated as the next tropical depression or Tropical Storm Jerry.

Forecast models don't agree on where the storm may head because there is no distinct center of circulation as defined by the National Hurricane Center yet. Therefore the models are initiating in different places, which ultimately has different trajectories in the long range.

Many of the models eventually quick the system out of the Bay of Campeche toward the west coast of Florida. That could have huge implications on the Jacksonville-area forecast heading into Sunday and Monday.

Even if this system doesn't develop, abundant, torrential rainfall could be the forecast by the end of the weekend.