WRUF continues its coverage of Tropical Storm Debby, as the storm closes in on the Nature Coast. Landfall is expected later this evening along Florida’s Nature Coast, most-likely in Dixie County. The good news, however, is that the system’s center of circulation has begun to accelerate eastward, moving almost twice as fast as it was this morning. The faster storm speed will mitigate the heavy rain potential over the next 48 hours. However, a significant amount of additional rain is still possible in some areas, especially near and north of the storms path. Debby is weakening, with highest winds currently around 40 mph, and minimal thunderstorm activity around the center of circulation.
Area residents are still encouraged to remain vigilant, as the possibility of high wind gusts and isolated tornadoes cannot be completely ruled out. In particular, as the center of circulation moves onshore this evening, lifting action along the coast may produce a thunderstorm, with potentially damaging wind gusts and heavy downpours. Flood watches remain in effect for all of North Central Florida, with flash flood warnings for Lafayette and Suwannee counties, and river flood watches are in effect for the Suwannee and Santa Fe rivers.
All models currently show the system moving across the peninsula. While the exact path the center of Debby takes is still not important from a wind and surge standpoint, where she moves over inland counties will play a big role in how much additional rain may fall. We believe the heaviest additional rain will fall in a swath extending approximately 50 miles to the northeast of the Debby’s center. Models still diverge just a bit on the track after landfall, but the consensus remains near a Cross City-Gainesville-St. Augustine line.
We believe the most-likely track near Alachua County will keep the heaviest rain just to the north, with Lake City possibly seeing 2 to 4 inches more of rain, and about one to two inches more of rainfall in Gainesville. Almost all the moisture associated with the system should move out by early afternoon Wednesday. Thursday and Friday are expected to be dry throughout the area, but the lingering humidity from Debby will result in oppressive heat with heat indices near or above 100.
Prepared by WRUF forcaster Damien Seepersad.