A severe overnight storm in Northwest Florida Thursday night claimed the life of one person and left heavy damage across the area that residents are still cleaning up.
The storms grew intense early Friday morning as a flash flood emergency was issued across an area that included Pensacola, Florida. Portions of the city had received over 9 inches of rainfall by the time of the emergency’s issuance, surpassing the old daily record rainfall of 4.12 inches set in 1985.
The storm turned deadly Thursday night when a tornado spun up in the area, sending a tree colliding into a nearby home. Escambia County Fire Rescue and emergency medical services responded to the call of a person trapped just after 8:30 p.m. CDT. However, the person was pronounced dead at the scene.
There were no other reported fatalities nor reported injuries within the city limit, Pensacola Fire Chief Ginny Cranor told AccuWeather Assistant Chief On-Air Meteorologist Geoff Cornish on Friday evening.
Cranor compared the event to a 2014 flood event the city had experienced, saying Thursday’s storm “has been to a similar level” as they had many people trapped in flooded cars in need of rescue.
On April 29, 2014, the heavens opened over Pensacola to unleash dousing rainfall that would mark the greatest calendar day total on record since 1879, according to the National Weather Service.
An estimated 15.55 inches of rain fell that day, a third of which fell in the hour between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. EDT on April 29. Over the course of 48 hours, an estimated 20.47 inches fell, placing the rainfall between a 1 in 100-year and 1 in 200-year event.
At least two fatalities occurred during the historic flash flooding, one of which was in Escambia County, Florida. The other was in Baldwin County, Alabama.
While the rain that fell Thursday night into Friday didn’t scratch those totals, other areas around Pensacola came close, if not surpassed them. Gulf Breeze, a city in Santa Rosa County and a suburb of Pensacola recorded an astounding 15.70 inches and Warrington, located in Escambia County, recorded 15.23 inches.
With that said, the rainfall totals in Pensacola were anything but insignificant, especially as another round of rain took aim at the area Friday morning. In fact, it blew away the historical average for the entire month of June (7.32 inches)
“It’s been a very long evening and a long day,” Cranor said. “Our crews have been out working, performing damage assessments and just making sure that all of our roads and critical infrastructure are supported.”
In addition to the flooding rainfall, the area also had “hours of terrible lightning,” according to Cranor.
Data from LightningMaps.org, a community project that maps out lightning strikes across the United States, showed frequent lightning across northern Florida throughout the evening hours of Thursday, including in Escambia County where Pensacola is located.
Power outages were still high across Florida as 20,000 customers were without power as of Friday evening, according to PowerOutage.US. Escambia County. Over 3,700 customers without electricity were in Escambia, with the rest scattered across the state. The outages are expected to wane as crews continue to clean up following the storm.
Produced in association with AccuWeather