Tropical Storm Debby is a Persistent Guest in the Southeastern United States

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Concerns about flooding grow as Debby sits over Florida. Image by omster-com

Tropical Storm Debby sent rain and wind to drench Florida over the weekend, and the center of the storm is poised to make landfall there on Monday night.

Debby will take her sweet time leaving – over the next few days, the forecast calls for Debby to meander over the northern Gulf of Mexico into Florida and Louisiana.

Debby is a wide tropical storm, extending outward for 200 miles. As of Monday morning, Debby was lingering near Florida, bringing strong winds and rain that battered the coast.

Her movement was almost at a standstill, bringing flood danger to an already-drenched Florida.

Officials in Louisiana are also preparing for the onslaught of Tropical Storm Debby – this weekend, the governor declared a state of emergency, and officials in Terrebonne Parish and Lafourche Parish did the same.

Debby Causes Property Damage and Loss of Life

Having such difficult weather sitting over the state has spawned thunderstorms, flooding, and tornadoes. This weekend, one fatality was linked to a tornado that whipped across Florida, killing a woman who was found in her home in Venus. An injured child was found in the same home.

Oil and Gas Platforms Evacuated

The storm has also caused evacuations of oil and gas production platforms throughout the Gulf of Mexico. As of this weekend, Shell, BP, and ExxonMobil evacuated the majority of staff from their platforms, evacuating 13 drilling rigs and 61 production platforms in the Gulf.  Those unable to be evacuated will take shelter in place as the storm passes through. 23 percent of oil and gas production has been suspended.

Storm surges will batter the Florida coast on Monday. Image by thegnome54

Debby Brings Storm Surges to the Waterfront

In addition to high winds, rain, and a danger of flooding, Debby will also bring storm surges at the waterfront. Debby will combine with high tide in Apalachee Bay on Monday night to produce a storm surge between 4 and 6 feet.  Along the rest of the Florida coast, waters will rise between 2 and 4 feet.

Flooding a Concern During Slow-Moving Tropical Storm

Although tropical storm force winds mainly cause flooding, tree damage, and power outages, a tropical storm that stays in place for a long time can also bring a risk of flooding. Officials have already closed some bridges in preparation for high water levels.

In 2005, Hurricane Dennis brought widespread flooding to Florida, and officials worry that saturated soil will lead to high levels of runoff, causing a repeat of the flooding of 2005. While Debby’s winds may not be as strong as a hurricane, the potential for disruption and damage still poses concerns to officials in Florida.

Resources:

National Weather Service. Tropical Storm Debby. #Debby. (2012). National Hurricane Center. Accessed June 25, 2012.

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