Heavy rain, storms still possible tonight

Lighter rain will continue into Saturday

By John Gaughan - Chief meteorologist

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Heavy rains forecast to move across Northeast Florida on Friday afternoon have had a hard time materializing, but don't let the lackluster weather deceive you. Another round of heavy rain is anticipated in the evening.

A potent low-pressure system moved inland just north of Tampa Bay in the late afternoon and will recharge the atmosphere with abundant moisture. Heavy rains could interrupt your evening commute and evening plans and lasting through 10pm.

So far severe weather has been non-existent in our area, but our friends to the north have seen the deluge.  St. Simons Island had 2 inches of rain fall in one hour Friday afternoon.  The Storm Prediction Center has placed most of Northeast Florida in a slight risk.

Friday's computer models showing 6 to 8 inches of rain are bogus, to say the least. Nonetheless, we anticipate anywhere from 1 to 2 inches of rainfall total for many areas by Saturday morning. While this will not be the catalyst to a major flooding problem, our ground is saturated and therefore any heavy rain could cause ponding in the typical low-lying areas: Black Creek, McCoy's Creek, Santa Fe River, St. Mary's River as well as Hogans Creek.

The National Weather Service still has an areal flood watch up for most of Channel 4's viewing area, so we will continue to monitor this on-going rain event throughout the evening hours on this Weather Authority Alert Day.


Earlier Friday post:

After two days of nor'easter conditions that brought us very breezy conditions, some minor beach erosion and high tides running about 1 foot above normal.  Now, a powerful late winter storm is tracking through the northern Gulf of Mexico bringing copious amounts of moisture and potential to produce severe thunderstorms and possibly tornadoes for central and northern Florida on Friday.

There will be many warnings associated with the passage of this system in the afternoon and evening. Already there are small craft advisories for gusty winds to 40 mph along the coast and inland wind advisories for non-thunderstorm winds to 35 mph.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch starting at noon for all counties in Channel 4's viewing area as grounds are rather saturated after recent rains and the anticipation of another 2 to 4 inches over the next 18 hours.

One forecast model shows up to 5 inches of rain near Jacksonville.  This is an extreme case, but illustrates why Friday's weather will be very disruptive to your Good Friday and early weekend plans.

Additionally, we could be under a tornado watch later in the afternoon, followed by the possibility of severe thunderstorm warnings and/or tornado warnings.  Rainfall is expected to be very heavy so for those that get the intense rains (and yes, not everyone is going to see 4 inches of rain) there will be flood advisories and possibly warnings for this as well.

River flood warnings have been issued for 11 Florida rivers and a few more in southeast Georgia, including the St. Marys, Sante Fe, Suwannee and Altamaha rivers.

Emergency management officials in Clay County are keeping a close eye on certain parts of the area like Black Creek, which is know for flooding.

"I think a lot of it's going to depend on where some of those heavier cells of rain fall in tonight," said John Ward, of Clay County Emergency Management.

Officials said the south prong of the creek is especially fast-rising, and even a little bit of rainfall makes a big difference. They do expect the north and south prongs to go into action stage Saturday, meaning they want residents to take protective actions and think about moving patio furniture, trailers and cars to higher areas.

A high surf advisory is also in effect due to rough, pounding surf of 6 to 8 feet through the day.  St. Johns County has extended its state of emergency for a South Ponte Vedra due erosion threatening several homes in South Ponte Vedra. The declaration allows homeowners in the 2800 and 2900 blocks of State Road A1A to expedite permits for construction of temporary bulkheads.

Stay tuned as wee will update this article frequently throughout the day, with hourly updates on air.  Download our Weather Authority app or follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay in touch with the latest.

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