Tropical rainfall is in the offing for most of Florida and the Gulf Coast this week as a new weather pattern begins to unfold over the southeastern United States. AccuWeather forecasters the pattern will continue into the coming weeks and say the first dose of rain could be heavy enough to disrupt travel and will be accompanied by hazardous winds in some areas.
“A strong area of high pressure holding in the mid-Atlantic for the first half of the week will create an east-to-west wind flow across Florida and into the Gulf Coast,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Tyler Roys.
The rain will be welcomed in Florida, which has faced extended dry spells since the start of 2023. More than half of Florida is dealing with severe drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
In addition to the rain, a gusty breeze is expected on the Atlantic coast of Florida. This will be one of multiple hazards beachgoers could face this week.
“Residents and vacationers who plan to venture in the water should be on alert for stronger than usual waves and rip currents into Monday evening,” Roys said. This is true along the entirety of Florida’s Atlantic coast from Miami through Jacksonville.
Coastal flooding is also a concern into Tuesday morning for communities along the central coast, including St. Augustine, Daytona Beach and Vero Beach, Florida. The onshore winds in these areas could lead to flooding issues, especially at times of high tide into Tuesday.
This time of year, AccuWeather meteorologists are always closely monitoring any storms that move through the Gulf of Mexico. Historically, April is not a busy month in terms of tropical activity. However, given the right weather pattern and atmospheric conditions, a pre-season tropical system can occasionally form in this area.
Last week, AccuWeather meteorologists believed that a tropical depression or tropical storm could form in this zone during the second week of April, but that it was a long shot. The chances of a tropical or subtropical system sinning up have now further diminished.
“This week, the conditions in the northern Gulf of Mexico do not favor tropical development,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said. “The water is not quite warm enough, and the storm will not spend enough time over the Gulf before moving ashore.”
AccuWeather released the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season forecast at the end of March. AccuWeather’s team of tropical weather experts warns that Florida could be at risk for more tropical strikes this year.
As the week progresses, the area of high pressure will shift eastward to the coast of the Carolinas. As a result, it will alter the wind direction across the Gulf Coast and move the storm over Florida into the northern part of the Gulf of Mexico. This shift will also direct much of the moisture to the central Gulf Coast.
The heaviest rain from late Tuesday through Wednesday night is expected to center on Louisiana and coastal parts of Mississippi and Alabama. The western Florida Panhandle may also receive some heavier rain. In this zone, widespread rainfall amounts of 0.50-1 inch are possible, with localized reports of around 2 inches possible.
Any area hit with more than one or two downpours in a short period of time may also be susceptible to flash flooding.
Motorists should monitor these pockets of heavier rain, as downpours may bring reduced visibility as well as ponding on roadways. Those traveling along the Interstate 10 corridor could encounter some delays with these rounds of rain into Wednesday.
Many cities expected to receive rain this week are going through a stretch of relatively dry weather. Abnormally dry conditions have been reported in cities like Houston, Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida, since the start of meteorological spring on March 1. As a result, these areas could use a dose of rain.
New Orleans has also been experiencing a rainfall deficit in recent weeks. During March, only 2.15 inches of rain fell in the city, about 50% of the historical average for the month. Through the first nine days of April, only 0.42 of an inch of rain has been recorded. The dry stretch has left New Orleans in a moderate drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
“As the week progresses, the moisture is expected to push back east, allowing for more of Florida to get in on the wet weather,” Roys explained.
On Thursday, drenching thunderstorms are expected to shift back into parts of Alabama, Florida and southern Georgia, bringing much-needed rain to many areas.
Unlike many of the other storms to traverse the southeastern U.S. recently, this round of wet weather is not expected to bring widespread severe weather. Still, a few thunderstorms may produce gusty winds Wednesday or Thursday afternoon.
Another front is set to sweep through the eastern half of the country Friday and into the weekend, bringing yet another opportunity for rain in the Southeast. AccuWeather meteorologists will continue to monitor the potential for severe weather as the week comes to a close.
Produced in association with AccuWeather