Fay continues its tour of Florida, dropping prodigious rains along the way

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:39 PM GMT on August 21, 2008

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The rains are beginning to pick along Florida's northern Gulf Coast, as Tropical Storm Fay continues its extensive tour of the state. Radar and satellite loops show that Fay has changed little during its trek across northern Florida, and still has a large circulation with plenty of rainbands sprawling over much of northern Florida and southern Georgia. Fay is headed towards the waters of the extreme northern Gulf or Mexico near the Big Bend region of Florida, and should be able to pull in enough moisture from the Gulf to at least maintain its current strength through Sunday. Fay may be able to intensify to a 60-65 mph tropical storm, but I don't see it reaching hurricane strength, due to the close proximity of the storm to land. Fay is the first storm since Donna of 1960 to make three landfalls in Florida. If Fay crosses the Big Bend region of the Gulf of Mexico and then makes landfall again around Apalachicola, FL, it will be the first tropical cyclone on record to hit the same state four times. "The Joker" has it in for the state of Florida!

Fay's rains
Fay has brought the Melbourne, Florida region its greatest single-storm rainfall on record. By 1 am EDT today, Fay had dumped 22.83" of rain on Cape Canaveral. The previous rainfall record for a tropical cyclone in the region was set in 1950, when Hurricane King dumped 15.44" of rain on Patrick Air Force Base near Cape Canaveral. Hurricane Wilma of 2005 holds third place--it dumped 13.26" on Kennedy Space Center.

Fay is also one of Florida's rainiest storms on record. According to Wikipedia and NOAA, the eleven rainiest Florida tropical cyclones of all time were:

Easy (1950) 38.70" Yankeetown
Georges (1998) 38.46" Munson
Unnamed (1941) 35.00" Trenton
Dennis (1985) 25.56" Homestead
TD 1A (1992) 25.00" Arcadia Tower
Jeanne (1980) 24.98" Key West
Dora (1964) 23.73" Mayo
TD (1969) 23.40" Havana
Unnamed (1924) 23.22" Marco Island
Bob (1985) 21.50" Everglades City
Alberto (1994) 21.38 Niceville

According to the latest public information statement from the NWS office in Melbourne, we have an unofficial public observation at Melbourne/Windover Farms (through 5 am 8/21/08) of 26.20". If verified, that would make Fay the 4th rainiest Florida tropical cyclone on record.

Rainfall over the Melbourne area will continue today, but should gradually diminish as Fay moves away from the area.

Figure 1. Current radar-estimated precipitation from Fay. Fifteen to twenty inches of rain has fallen just northwest of Melbourne, Florida.

Links to follow
Wundermap for Central Florida
Tallahassee, FL radar
Melbourne, FL weather

Disturbance 94L approaching the Lesser Antilles
A tropical wave (94L), 400 miles east of the Lesser Antilles Islands, consists of a disorganized region with three clumps of heavy thunderstorms. This one could be trouble, and we'll have to watch it carefully. This morning's QuikSCAT pass mostly missed 94L, but did show a pronounced wind shift at the western edge of the disturbance. Visible satellite imagery shows little chance to this disturbance so far today. Wind shear has fallen to a modest 10 knots over 94L, and the dry air surrounding it has been steadily moistening. Wind shear is expected to drop to a low 5 knots and remain low for the next four days, and NHC is now giving this system a medium (20%-50% chance) of developing into a tropical depression by Sunday morning. Once 94L moves into the eastern Caribbean on Sunday, three of our reliable computer models are developing the storm. Puerto Rico could see rains from 94L by Monday.

Disturbance 95L in the middle Atlantic
Another tropical wave (95L), near 18N 39W, halfway between Africa and the Lesser Antilles Islands, remains disorganized. This morning's QuikSCAT pass showed only a slight wind shift associated with 95L , and no closed circulation. Top winds were about 30 mph. Wind shear is a modest 10 knots over 95L, and is forecast to remain near 10 knots for the next five days. Visible satellite images show only a small clump of heavy thunderstorm activity. NHC has given 95L a moderate (20%-50% chance) of developing into a tropical depression by Sunday morning. None of the computer models develop 95L.

Figure 2. Satellite image of 94L (region 1) and 95L (region 2) as depicted by NHC's Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook.

The next blog? I'm not sure, since I'm traveling today, but it will be either late this afternoon or Saturday by 10:30 am EDT.

Jeff Masters

sailboat that was (randynchrissie)
gone the next..remnents of Lady Cecila. Thanks to TS Fay.
sailboat that was
Fay in Melbourne (leidoiii)
25 inches of rain and still coming down
Fay in Melbourne
Water Spout (Micanopy)
Taken at St. George Island, FL. Had to take this one quickly. Not the greatest shot.
Water Spout
TS Fay Batters St. Augustine (weatherguy03)
Flooding near the Castillo.
TS Fay Batters St. Augustine

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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