Soaking storms continue to drench Florida Peninsula

Alex Sosnowski
·5 min read

An unusually strong and moist front for April will continue to bring rounds of rain and locally severe thunderstorms over the central and southern parts of the Florida Peninsula through Wednesday.

The front has already delivered nearly an entire month's worth of rain in some areas since arriving this past weekend, and a few more inches are forecast to fall on some communities into midweek.

On Sunday, April 18, 2021, both Gainesville and Leesburg, Florida, set daily rainfall records. At Gainesville, 1.10 inches of rain fell and broke the record of 0.95 of an inch set way back in 1912. Leesburg, located about 48 miles northwest of Orlando, received 0.61 of an inch of rain on Sunday, which broke the old record of 0.42 of an inch set back in 2019.

This graphic shows radar estimated rainfall as of Monday, April 19, 2021, from late last week through this past weekend (AccuWeather).

The rain will continue to be largely beneficial. On average, April is one of the driest months of the year across the peninsula, according to data from the National Weather Service. Fronts typically become very weak as they approach; the summertime thunderstorm season has not yet ramped up and tropical systems usually don't start to crop up and unload locally heavy rain until June.

For example, in Orlando, Florida, the average rainfall for April is 2.68 inches. During May, normal rainfall ramps up to 3.45 inches and during the months of June, July and August, rainfall averages between 7 and 8 inches each month. As of Tuesday afternoon, April 20, Orlando has already racked up 4.92 inches of rain, exceeding its normal rainfall for the entire month of April.

From Monday through Wednesday, a general 2-4 inches of rain is forecast to fall on the central counties of the state, with 1-2 inches likely over the southern third. Locally higher amounts are possible.

Prior to April, much of the Florida Peninsula had been abnormally dry according to data from the United States Drought Monitor. Pockets of moderate drought exist in the southern third of the peninsula as well. Since Jan. 1, 2021, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, Florida, have only received about 50% of their normal rainfall. Both cities typically receive between 12 and 13 inches of rain at this point in the season.

Too much rain may fall too fast in this setup into Wednesday.

"There is the potential for urban and low-lying area flooding, especially where storms linger or repeat," AccuWeather On-Air Meteorologist Jessica Pash said.

Embedded thunderstorms will not only carry the risk of lightning strikes, but also the potential for locally strong wind gusts, hail and perhaps a brief isolated tornado or waterspout.

The bulk of the rain and thunderstorms from the front will tend to focus on the southern third of the state on Wednesday, which is where the rain is most needed.

The sagging front will also continue to slash temperatures. Following a very warm stretch of 10 days or longer with highs well into the 80s to near 90, temperatures are forecast to be generally 10 degrees lower over the central and southern parts of the state during much of the balance of the week. High temperatures are forecast to range from the middle 70s to the lower 80s in the central counties of the peninsula and the lower to middle 80s in the southern counties.

There will be a couple more opportunities for rain once the current front dissipates.

"There is the chance another front drops in with rain and thunderstorms across the panhandle and northern part of the peninsula spanning April 24-25," AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok said.

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Another round of rain and thunderstorms is possible during the first few days of May as well.

Forecasters are not yet certain if that front will die out as it approaches the state or if it will hold together with more soaking rain due to a storm along the front, according to Pastelok.

"Odds favor that system diminishing before much impact in Florida," he said.

Because of the typical limited rainfall, strengthening sunshine, low humidity and surging temperatures during the spring, brush fire season tends to ramp up across the state. Rain from this week and later in April may not be enough to reduce the risk of brush fires.

Pastelok explained that if that front diminishes and the state misses out on more rain, it is possible that the risk of brush fires may ramp up during the early and middle part of May.

Moderate drought conditions are being reported across south Florida, as of Monday, April 19, 2021.

The current front sagging slowly southward across the state is forecast to break up later Wednesday over the southern third of the peninsula.

AccuWeather's team of tropical meteorologists is projecting another active hurricane season, but with lower numbers when compared to the record-setting 2020 season. Anticipated conditions could bring a greater number of tropical systems into Florida waters and/or multiple landfalls in the sunshine state, compared to 2020.

The 2020 season brought a record 30 named tropical systems, of which 12 made landfall in the U.S, which was also a record. The prior record for U.S. landfalls was nine in 1916.

However, only two named tropical systems crossed Florida in 2020. Those were Sally in the middle of September and Eta in early November. During early August, Isaias approached Florida as a hurricane from the Caribbean, but the system turned northward and weakened to a tropical storm and stayed east of the state.

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