Historic 2012 U.S. drought: 6th greatest on record

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 10:59 PM GMT on July 16, 2012

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The great drought of 2012 is upon us. The percentage area of the contiguous U.S. covered by moderate or greater drought increased to 56% by the end of June, and ranked as the sixth largest drought since U.S. weather records began in 1895, said NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in their monthly State of the Climate drought report on Monday. The last time more of the U.S. was in drought occurred in December 1956, with 58%. June 2012 ranked as the 10th greatest U.S. drought on record, when considering the percentage area of the U.S. in severe or greater drought (33%.)


Figure 1. June 2012 ranked in sixth place for the greatest percent area of the contiguous U.S. covered by moderate or greater drought, since record keeping began in 1895. Graphic created from data from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.

The forecast: hot and dry with increasing drought
The great drought of 2012 is going to steadily worsen during the remainder of July. Recent runs of the global computer forecast models predict a continuation through the end of July of the large-scale jet stream patterns that have brought the U.S. its hot, dry summer weather. The most extreme heat will tend to be focused over the center portion of the county. That was certainly the case Monday, with temperatures near or in excess of 100° observed from South Dakota to Michigan. High temperatures near 100°F are expected in Chicago and Detroit on Tuesday, and over much of the Midwest.


Figure 2. Comparison of drought between June 2012 (top) and June 1988 (bottom) shows that drought conditions covered a similar proportion of the contiguous U.S., but the spatial patterns were different. The 2012 drought is especially intense over the Southwest U.S., but in 1988, this region experienced a very active summer monsoon season that kept the region moist. However, in 1988, the Northern Plains were much drier than in 2012. Image credit: NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory.

A multi-billion dollar drought disaster underway
Agronomists and drought experts are comparing the scale and intensity of the 2012 drought to the 1988 drought. With the forecast offering little optimism, the costs of the 2012 drought are certain to be many billions of dollars, and the disaster could be one of the top ten most expensive weather-related disasters in U.S. history. Droughts historically have been some of the costliest U.S. weather disasters. A four-year drought and locust plague from 1874 - 1877 cost $169 billion (2012 dollars), and was arguably the most expensive weather related disaster in U.S. history (see Jeffrey Lockwood's 2004 book, Locust.) The costs of the great Dust Bowl drought of the 1930s, which displaced 2.5 million people, are incalculable. The costs of government financial assistance alone were $13 billion in 2012 dollars (Warrick, 1980.) The 1988 drought cost $78 billion (2012 dollars), the second most expensive weather disaster since 1980, behind Hurricane Katrina.

The associated heat wave of the great drought of 2012 is also a major concern. The heat waves associated with the great droughts of 1980 and 1988 killed between 7,500 - 10,000 people, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. The heat waves of the 1930s are blamed for 5,000 deaths. The death toll from the 2012 heat wave is approaching 100, including 23 in Chicago, up to 19 in Wisconsin, 18 in Maryland, 17 in St. Louis, and 9 in Philadelphia. The toll will undoubtedly grow as more heat-related deaths are discovered, and as the heat continues.


Figure 3. The U.S. has seen twelve weather-related disasters costing at least $15 billion since 1980, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. Two of the top three most expensive disasters have been droughts.

Tornadoes kill one, injure ten in Poland
A series of rare tornadoes hit northern and western Poland over the weekend, killing one and injuring ten. At least 100 homes were destroyed, and one of the twisters measured 1 km (0.6 miles) in diameter. Tornadoes are quite rare in Poland. According to the publication, An updated estimate of tornado occurrence in Europe by Nikolai Dotzek (2003), Poland reports about two tornadoes per year, and probably has two more per year that are unreported. Thanks go to wunderground member beell for posting this link.


Video 1. Raw footage of the weekend tornadoes that hit Poland.

Jeff Masters

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sorry that this is kinda off topic

MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 1482
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
1258 PM CDT TUE JUL 17 2012

AREAS AFFECTED...WI

CONCERNING...SEVERE POTENTIAL...WATCH POSSIBLE

VALID 171758Z - 172000Z

PROBABILITY OF WATCH ISSUANCE...40 PERCENT

SUMMARY...AREAS OF CNTRL AND NRN WI ARE BEING MONITORED FOR A
POSSIBLE WATCH THIS AFTERNOON. LATEST INDICATIONS ARE THAT AT LEAST
ISOLATED STORMS MAY DEVELOP ALONG AND NORTH OF A STALLED FRONT IN
THE NEXT FEW HOURS.

DISCUSSION...SURFACE ANALYSIS REVEALS A WEST-TO-EAST FRONTAL ZONE
STALLED ACROSS SCNTRL WI WITH VERY WARM AND INCREASING UNSTABLE
CONDITIONS DEVELOPING WITHIN A STRONGLY CAPPED AIRMASS COINCIDENT
WITH THE FRONTAL POSITION. A FEW SCATTERED TSTMS CONTINUE WELL NORTH
OF THE SURFACE FRONT...ACROSS NRN WI...AS PART OF A WEAK MCV THAT
WAS GENERATED FROM CONVECTION ACROSS THE DAKOTAS YESTERDAY
AFTERNOON. ON THE LARGE SCALE...LIFT ACROSS THE FRONTAL ZONE WILL
LIKELY BE AIDED BY SLOPED ASCENT ASSOCIATED WITH THE RIGHT ENTRANCE
REGION OF A MODESTLY STRONG MID/UPPER JET SITUATED ACROSS SRN LAKE
SUPERIOR. EVEN WITH THIS FAVORABLE PATTERN OF BACKGROUND
ASCENT...PRONOUNCED MID LEVEL EML PLUME AND RESULTANT CAPPING WILL
BE DIFFICULT TO COMPLETELY ELIMINATE TO ALLOW WIDESPREAD
SURFACE-BASED STORM INITIATION...AT LEAST IN THE SHORT-TERM.

HOWEVER...IT DOES APPEAR THAT ANOTHER HOUR OR TWO OF STRONG HEATING
IN THE PRESENCE OF PERSISTENT LOW LEVEL CONVERGENCE AND BACKGROUND
ASCENT NEAR THE BOUNDARY COULD CONTRIBUTE TO AT LEAST ISOLATED STORM
DEVELOPMENT. FORECAST SHEAR PROFILES NEAR AND NORTH OF THE FRONT ARE
SUPPORTIVE OF SUPERCELLS WITH SOME HAIL POTENTIAL. IF SURFACE-BASED
DISCRETE STORMS CAN TAKE FORM NEAR THE FRONT AND POSSIBLY INTERACT
WITH LAKE/BAY BREEZES...ENHANCED SR SHEAR COULD BRIEFLY BOOST
TORNADO POTENTIAL. ANY CONVECTION ABLE TO FORM OVER THE WARM SECTOR
COULD ALSO POSE A THREAT FOR DAMAGING WINDS.

IF GREATER CERTAINTY REGARDING INITIATION...STORM COVERAGE AND
INTENSITY IS FORTHCOMING THIS AFTERNOON...A WATCH MAY BE NEEDED
ACROSS THE REGION.
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Quoting aerojad:
Was wondering if you guys could help me out with something. Rivers are obviously falling because of the drought over most of the country but I can't seem to find any information on what an 'average' river level is, and what is considered to be too low.

I can find tons of stuff like this from the AHPS: http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo= dvn&gage=rcki2

Tells me the current and forecast stages, as well as the definitions of various flood stages, but there's no line for normal, or what's too low for shipping.

I've found a very few gauges along the Mississippi where they list the low water impacts, but the vast majority doesn't.

Does anyone know where I can find average river levels?


Your best bet will be to find the site you want on the USGS page (as long as it is a gauge operated by the USGS). Typically they will also post information about the current levels compared to climatology.

It looks like you are looking at a gauge on the Mississippi River. Many times they are maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers, although sometimes in collaboration with the USGS. I couldn't seem to find a USGS page for the Miss. at Rock Island gauge, but did find a gauge just upstream at Clinton:
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?site_no=0542050 0

This overview map may also be helpful:
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/rt
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Ladies and Gentlemen, This.Is.A.Test.

91L
Never was to good at tests........but I did win my 1st grade speeling bee............I spelled the word "catagory" correctly.. Did I get it right this time?
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I'm wondering if this is a test. If it was, then I wonder why they didn't name it like 88L or something like that.
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Intern screwed up
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9625
Quoting RitaEvac:
Ladies and Gentlemen, This.Is.A.Test.

91L


so why is it on the navy site over a swirl and between 90 and 99?
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9453
Fabio down to 40.

EP, 06, 2012071718, , BEST, 0, 226N, 1206W, 35, 1004, TS
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FSU Phase analysis says "91L's" not even going to come anywhere close to subtropical anyway...







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Ladies and Gentlemen, This.Is.A.Test.

91L
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9625
Cool pic. that appeared today on spaceweather.

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Emilia deactivated:

BEGIN
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683. yoboi
Quoting Minnemike:
well, are there any reports of porcelain toilet deaths during a lightning storm? semantically, an arc bypassing a non-conductive material does not constitute the material being classified as conductive. semantics aside, neither myself nor anyone else would want to put safety to the test during a lightning storm.. avoiding the bathroom is sound advice!



porcelain may contain alumina a compound of aluminum and oxygen. i think aluminum conducts electricity...so by saying porcelain is not classified as a conducter of electricity is a false statement....depends on the amount of alumina compounds in that porcelain product....
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Purple Aurorae Pictures...

http://portfolio.goldpaintphotography.com/nightsk y/e280C1EB5#h280c1eb5
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Very odd that 91L is declared.
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


it aint much to give
Agree with you.
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Also,there was anything mentioned in TWO so something smells fishy here.
Speaking of fishy..Caught 20 Lane, Mangrove, Yellowtail...and one nice Strawberry Grouper over the weekend in Islamorada
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


alright, not as hot as detroit down here and my sore throat is better.
its 101f now, good your feeling better, and why is this an invest?
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Quoting WxGeekVA:





I have no idea why they would declare this... Something is fishy here...
Maybe it can surprise us but I really doubt it.
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Also,there was anything mentioned in TWO so something smells fishy here.
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Quoting wxchaser97:
I honestly dont know but it says 91l and how are you tday?


alright, not as hot as detroit down here and my sore throat is better.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9453
Quoting Neapolitan:
True. Nor 99. Hence me "Say what?" comment. ..


maybe knabb punched a computer
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9453
Quoting WxGeekVA:


The gods smile upon us after seeing our plight and give us something to watch as a reward for our patience!


it aint much to give
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9453
I think spathy is Ozzie in disguise............Black Sabbath
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I have no idea why they would declare this... Something is fishy here...
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What? 91L? Shouldn't it be 98L?

It doesn't look very Invest-worthy, either...
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From NWS San Diego


TROPICAL STORM FABIO CONTINUES TO WEAKEN AS IT MOVES NORTH ABOUT 600
MILES WEST OF THE SOUTHERN TIP OF BAJA CALIFORNIA. THE STORM WILL
WEAKEN INTO A REMNANT LOW BY TOMORROW MORNING...AND MOISTURE FROM
THE STORM IS EXPECTED TO MOVE OVER SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WEDNESDAY
AFTERNOON THROUGH EARLY THURSDAY. ALTHOUGH IT APPEARS THAT THE CORE
OF THE MOISTURE WILL MOVE OVER L.A....VENTURA AND SANTA BARBARA
COUNTIES...THERE WILL STILL BE A GOOD AMOUNT OF MOISTURE THAT MAKES
IT OVER THE WESTERN PORTIONS OF SAN DIEGO...ORANGE...RIVERSIDE AND
SAN BERNARDINO COUNTIES. MOISTURE LOOKS TO BE DEEP ACROSS WESTERN
PORTIONS OF THE FORECAST AREA...WITH MODEL CROSS-SECTIONS SHOWING A
MOIST LAYER FROM 700 TO 300 MB AND PRECIPITABLE WATER VALUES OF UP
TO 1.5 INCHES. ONLY WEAK INSTABILITY IS INDICATED...SO IT APPEARS
THAT THERE WILL BE MAINLY LIGHT SHOWERS WITH THIS EVENT. HOWEVER...A
THUNDERSTORM OR TWO CANNOT BE RULED OUT.

MOST OF THE MID-TO-UPPER LEVEL MOISTURE SHOULD EXIT THE
REGION BY THURSDAY AFTERNOON...ALTHOUGH SOME LINGERING MOISTURE
COULD BRING SOME TOWERING CUMULUS OVER THE MOUNTAINS. HIGH PRESSURE
OVER THE GREAT PLAINS WILL START TO SLOWLY EXPAND WESTWARD WEDNESDAY
THROUGH THE MIDDLE OF NEXT WEEK...BRINGING A WARMING TREND FOR
INLAND AREAS AND A SHALLOW MARINE LAYER. NIGHT AND MORNING STRATUS
WILL BE MAINLY CONFINED TO THE COASTAL AREAS THURSDAY NIGHT THROUGH
THE MIDDLE OF NEXT WEEK.



AS THE RIDGE EXPANDS INTO OUR AREA...THE MID-TO-UPPER LEVEL FLOW
WILL TURN FROM A MAINLY SOUTHERLY DIRECTION TO A SOUTHEAST TO EAST
DIRECTION...AND THUS BRINGING MONSOONAL MOISTURE IN FROM MEXICO.
MOISTURE WILL START TO INCREASE SATURDAY...LIKELY BRINGING SOME
TOWERING CUMULUS TO THE MOUNTAINS DURING THE AFTERNOON/EARLY EVENING
HOURS...AND THEN INCREASE FURTHER SUNDAY THROUGH TUESDAY. THE GFS
AND ECMWF CONTINUE TO SHOW AN UPPER EASTERLY WAVE MOVING IN
SUNDAY...WHICH WILL HELP TRIGGER NOCTURNAL CONVECTION OVER THE
MOUNTAINS AND DESERTS SUNDAY MORNING AND SUNDAY NIGHT/MONDAY
MORNING. INSTABILITY LOOKS DECENT DURING THIS TIME AS WELL...WITH
850-500 MB CAPES OF 100-500 J/KG AND NEGATIVE LIFTED INDICES. AT THE
MOMENT...PRECIPITABLE WATER VALUES LOOK TO REACH 1.6 INCHES WITH
THIS INFLUX OF MOISTURE. THUS...THERE IS A SLIGHT CHANCE OF
THUNDERSTORMS AND SHOWERS FOR THE MOUNTAINS AND DESERTS SUNDAY
MORNING THROUGH TUESDAY EVENING. EAST TO SOUTHEASTERLY MID-LEVEL
WINDS OF 10 TO 20 KNOTS COULD ALSO BRING SOME PRECIPITATION TO THE
EASTERN INLAND VALLEYS DURING THIS TIME.

The last Easterly wave failed to deliver more than just wetting the street shower,let's hope this one has more punch! It's been bone dry since April at my location.
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Interesting but experts thought this was a tornado that touched down in oregon but it was really a fire whirl..

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 13460
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Quoting WxGeekVA:


??? I've seen way better things to look at besides this...
Worst thing I have ever looked at was KC and the Sunshine Band
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Quoting OracleDeAtlantis:
Ever heard of an arc? How about ball lightning?

Don't go anywhere near the plumbing in a lightning storm. I had a friend who saw lightning hit the house, and a ball of lightning came out of the faucet in the kitchen sink, and rolled across the living room carpet and into the television, frying the TV. If not for the burn marks on the carpeting showing the path this ball took, I wouldn't have believed it.

The story gets even better, but there's not time to tell it. Suffice to say that the place this occurred had many strange lightning strikes, and we guessed there must be some mineral under the ground that was attracting it, because it wasn't the highest spot around.


Lets hear it
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9625
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??? I've seen way better things to look at besides this...
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Quoting OracleDeAtlantis:
Ever heard of an arc? How about ball lightning?

Don't go anywhere near the plumbing in a lightning storm. I had a friend who saw lightning hit the house, and a ball of lightning came out of the faucet in the kitchen sink, and rolled across the living room carpet and into the television, frying the TV. If not for the burn marks on the carpeting showing the path this ball took, I wouldn't have believed it.

The story gets even better, but there's not time to tell it. Suffice to say that the place this occurred had many strange lightning strikes, and we guess there must be some mineral under the ground that was attracting it, because it was by far the highest spot close by.
Oracle......Does that include holding a Bud Light in Palm Beach county?
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


did we miss a few, howd we get back to 91?

97 was that wave, there may have been a 98 and i dont remember anything else
I honestly dont know but it says 91l and how are you tday?
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
Wait a second, 91L? I know we haven't even gotten to 98L yet before Debby.
True. Nor 99. Hence me "Say what?" comment. ..
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13278
Quoting spathy:


I know this sounds paranoid but also remember to not shower or wash your hands during a Fl thunderstorm.
Dont worry about using the restroom. Thats a broken stream and wont conduct.
Ever heard of an arc? How about ball lightning?

Don't go anywhere near the plumbing in a lightning storm. I had a friend who heard lightning hit the house, and a ball of lightning came out of the faucet in the kitchen sink, and rolled across the living room carpet and into the television, frying the TV. If not for the burn marks on the carpeting showing the path this ball took, I wouldn't have believed it.

The story gets even better, but there's not time to tell it. Suffice to say that the place this occurred had many strange lightning strikes, and we guessed there must be some mineral under the ground that was attracting it, because it wasn't the highest spot around.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
Wait a second, 91L? I know we haven't even gotten to 98L yet before Debby.


A big error there.
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Quoting spathy:


True.
All it takes is an arc to bypass any non conductive or limited conductive substance.
well, are there any reports of porcelain toilet deaths during a lightning storm? semantically, an arc bypassing a non-conductive material does not constitute the material being classified as conductive. semantics aside, neither myself nor anyone else would want to put safety to the test during a lightning storm.. avoiding the bathroom is sound advice!
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Quoting wxchaser97:
I don't think so look at atlanticLink


did we miss a few, howd we get back to 91?

97 was that wave, there may have been a 98 and i dont remember anything else
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9453
Wait a second, 91L? I know we haven't even gotten to 98L yet before Debby.
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Quoting Xyrus2000:


Depends on the type of solar filter you want. Mylar ones are cheap but are low quality. Glass ones are much better but cost a little more (around $150).

Solar narrow-band H-alpha filters are very expensive, but also show the highest quality view of the surface of the sun (with all it's various convective features). A regular solar filter will allow you to see limb prominences and sunspots, but an H-alpha will show you a whole loty more. To give you an idea of cost, the 40mm Coranoda solar telescope runs around $500-$600, and almost all of that cost goes into the front lens filter. And that's a single purpose scope (solar only).

Also, as a safety note, never never never NEVER get a through-the-eye-piece solar filter. Always get an end-cap filter (and if you opt for mylar, regularly check for holes). Depending on the aperature of your scope, a through the eyepiece filter ranges from being a mere blinding hazard to potentially shredding your eyeball with shards of searing hot glass.


Thanks for the info!! I have a 8" Dobsonian. I did see a video on how a eyepiece solar filter cracked and could cause you to have a very bad day!
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91L is unlikely to develop. It is moving into cooler sea surface temperatures less than 26C.
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Quoting spathy:


I know this sounds paranoid but also remember to not shower or wash your hands during a Fl thunderstorm.
Dont worry about using the restroom. Thats a broken stream and wont conduct.
spathy.........I just made a meatloaf here in Palm Beach county......My hands are a mess and it is storming...Any suggestions?
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Quoting Neapolitan:
Say what? ;-)

BEGIN
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INVEST, AL, L, , , , , 91, 2012, DB, O, 2012071718, 9999999999, , , , , , METWATCH, , AL912012
AL, 91, 2012071718, , BEST, 0, 398N, 552W, 25, 0, DB, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,

ORLY?


The gods smile upon us after seeing our plight and give us something to watch as a reward for our patience!
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Just as I suspected.

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The National Weather Service in Miami has issued an

* Urban Flood Advisory for minor flooding of poor drainage areas
in...
northeastern Broward County in Southeast Florida...
this includes the city of Deerfield Beach...
southeastern Palm Beach County in Southeast Florida...
this includes the cities of... Delray Beach... Boynton Beach... Boca
Raton...

* until 415 PM EDT

* at 220 PM EDT an area of heavy showers and thunderstorms will
continue to spread east across northern Broward and southern Palm
Beach counties this afternoon. The combination of the heavy
rainfall from yesterday evening and today... plus another 1 to 2
inches has already led to localized flooding... especially in the
low lying and flood prone areas.

Heavy rainfall will cause ponding of water in urban areas, highways,
streets and underpasses as well as other poor drainage areas and low
lying spots. Runoff will also cause elevated waters levels in canals
and ditches.

Lat... Lon 2628 8009 2628 8028 2653 8020 2659 8004


Rivera
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About JeffMasters

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