Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Above-Average Rainfall During Dry Season Sets Stage For Summer Flooding

Above-average rainfall in May could lead to flooding for Floridians.
Bobbie O'Brien/WUSF
Above-average rainfall in May could lead to flooding for Floridians.

Parts of Florida are experiencing several days of rain, which is expected in a state notorious for its afternoon thunderstorms. But May is supposed to be one of Florida’s driest months.

With the dry season experiencing this much rainfall, Floridians could face the threat of severe flooding when the rainy season starts.

“Most of the state has already seen above-average rainfall for the month of May,” Jeff Huffman, a meteorologist for the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network said. “Here in Tampa we’re already two and a half inches above normal to date. This is typically one of the drier months of the year, but certainly not this year."

According to the National Weather Service, Tampa typically experiences 2.1 inches of rain in May. In this month alone, Tampa has received an average of 3.66 inches of rainfall, with yet another week of storms in the forecast.

Huffman says the possibility of flooding should be a concern for Floridians, especially with a large area of disorganized weather slowly moving into the Gulf of Mexico.

“Any time you get a system like this that doesn’t move and it’s full of tropical moisture you have the risk for flooding,” Huffman said.  “Long range projections for flooding are really difficult in this state because they vary based on tropical activity, but certainly as we start the rainy season and more or less start the hurricane season on a wet note we have to keep our antennas up, if you will, and be watchful for flooding especially in those areas that are prone to inland flooding or river flooding.”

Gov. Rick Scott said Tuesday that Floridians must be prepared for significant rain and possible flooding. Scott directed the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to "pre-position and stage the agency’s high water vehicles and other flood response resources for rapid deployment, if needed."

“Although the storm currently has a relatively low chance of development into a tropical system, we must take it seriously,” Scott said. “That’s why it is critically important that all Floridians take this opportunity to get prepared and make a plan that ensures the safety of their family and loved ones.”

In addition to a potential flooding problem, all the runoff water can pose health risks.

According to the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County, flood waters and standing water could contain fecal matter from sewage systems, agricultural and industrial waste and other bacteria.

Though the flooding can be very harmful, Huffman said there are some simple ways you can protect yourself before the storms intensify.

“Remember it takes 30 days for a flood insurance policy to go into effect,” Huffman said. “So now is the time if you want to protect yourself at least a month from now for flood insurance. Also, remember you can do small things like clear out drains and clear out the gutters. You can do those things now at least while we have some sunshine and some drier weather ahead of what could be a very wet time ahead.”

Copyright 2018 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Sam Newlon interning as a WUSF/USF Zimmerman School digital news reporter for spring 2018.