Tropical Storm Debby made landfall late Tuesday night near Steinhatchee, Taylor County, Florida – the second tropical storm to make landfall over the U.S. in 2012.
According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), the system had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph at landfall – a weak tropical storm – with a large tropical storm force wind field extending outwards up to 175 miles from the center of the system (predominantly to the southeast). Preliminary wind field analysis shows that tropical storm winds affected a large region of western Florida, south to Cape Coral, and extended inland in central regions, including Orlando.
The system has, and continues to bring heavy rain to the region, in particular to northern Florida. As of Tuesday, over 26 inches of rain was recorded in Sanborn, south of Tallahassee, close to 22 inches in St. Marks and between 15 and 20 inches in areas to the north of Apalachee Bay.
Flooding has occurred in localized regions across north and western Florida. In association with coastal flooding, voluntary evacuations have been issued for low-lying areas of Wakulla and Suwanee County. Part of Interstate 10 – a major interstate across northern Florida – was closed due to flooding, and on the west coast, two major routes over Tampa Bay into St. Petersburg were closed as a result of flooding and high winds.
Information from the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center indicates that no tornadoes spawned from the system on Tuesday, June 26.
A state of emergency was declared in Florida in association with Debby, with officials reporting that virtually every country in Florida was affected by the storm though either wind damage, flooding, or power outages. Scattered power outages continue.
“As of this morning, the system is located over western Florida, and has weakened to a tropical depression due to moderate vertical wind shear, dry air entrainment and land interaction,” said Neena Saith, director of catastrophe response at RMS. “The system is forecast to cross Florida and re-emerge over the Atlantic in the next 24 – 36 hours.”
There is consistency amongst models as to the forecast over this 36 hour period, beyond that, the NHC has the system tracking to the east-northeast into the Atlantic, some models have the system stalling off the U.S. coast. Little strengthening is expected and the system will likely not reach hurricane status after it re-emerges over the Atlantic.