The center of Tropical Storm Debby made landfall near Steinhatchee, FL this afternoon, 4 days after the storm formed in the central Gulf of Mexico and sent forecasters into a frenzy trying to forecast its path and intensity.
Debby is fairly well defined on the visible satellite imagery, but remains lopsided as it's been through most of its life. The storm has a clear center (not quite an "eye") with a few showers wrapped around the western and southern side of Debby, and most of the convection located northeast of the center. The heaviest rain and winds have finally moved out of the drenched Panhandle region -- which received upwards of 20-30+ inches of rain through the duration of this event -- and are now in the northeastern part of the state. Some bands continue to spiral around the southeastern side of the storm through central and southern Florida, but those storms are more scattered in nature and will produce heavy rain and winds as they move through.
Here's where the heaviest rain is currently (6:13PM EDT) located, and should remain through the rest of the night. The green boxes indicate flash flood warnings.
The NHC will likely downgrade Debby to a depression as it moves across Florida over the next few days, as it will lose the fuel (the warm waters) it needs to maintain its strength. Debby will slowly pick up speed as it makes its way off to the northeast as a trough begins to dig down across the southeastern United States. The trough will intensify and act to scoop Debby up and out to sea by the weekend. Provided that the storm survives being over land, and doesn't get sheared apart, the NHC anticipates it to regain Tropical Storm strength as it races out to sea.
The biggest threats with the storm will continue to be extremely heavy rains and the risk for isolated tornadoes. The heaviest rains will occur over northeastern Florida and southeastern Georgia as Debby crawls through. The HPC's 5 day total accumulated rainfall forecast shows that between 5 and 10 inches of rain (possibly more if a heavier band sets up and trains over the same area) are expected as Debby makes its way out to the Atlantic.
As with any landfalling tropical system, due to the amount of spin in the atmosphere, tornadoes will remain a threat until the system pulls away. The tornado threat shouldn't be nearly as high as it was the other day, but the Storm Prediction Center maintains that the threat should remain through at least Thursday. If you live in the area, keep a close eye out for any warnings that could be issued. The warning time for tornadoes drops significantly due to the speed of the storms and how quickly the rotation spins up and dies out.
The NWS is asking media (and I guess a popular blog could be considered media) to relay the following civil emergency messages, so read them and relay them to anyone you know in the affected area.
This is a voluntary evacuation notice for Suwannee County, FL:
THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE IS TRANSMITTED AT THE REQUEST OF SUWANNEE
COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT.
THERE IS A VOLUNTARY EVACUATION OF LOW-LYING AREAS AND LOCATIONS
NEAR RIVERS...STREAMS...AND CREEKS IN SUWANNEE COUNTY.
A SHELTER HAS BEEN OPENED AT THE COLISEUM...1302 11TH
STREET...LIVE OAK. PEOPLE WHO DECIDE TO EVACUATE LOW LYING AREAS
SHOULD USE EXTREME CAUTION...AND SHOULD NOT CROSS FLOODED
OTHERWISE...TRAVEL ACROSS SUWANNEE COUNTY IS STRONGLY DISCOURAGED.
THE SUWANNEE COUNTY SHERIFF`S OFFICE REQUESTS THAT PEOPLE STAY AT
HOME AND OFF THE ROADS TONIGHT. NUMEROUS ROADS ARE UNDER
WATER...SEVERAL FEET DEEP IN SOME LOCATIONS.
A BOIL WATER NOTICE IS IN EFFECT FOR ALL OF SUWANNEE COUNTY. BRING
WATER TO A FULL ROLLING BOIL FOR AT LEAST ONE MINUTE AND ALLOW TO
COOL BEFORE DRINKING OR USING IN FOOD PREPARATION.
IF YOU HAVE FLOODING IMPACTING YOUR HOME...YOU CAN CALL THE
FOLLOWING PHONE NUMBER FOR ASSISTANCE..386-364-3405.
And this one is a no-travel request in the heavily flooded Wakulla County, FL:
THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE IS TRANSMITTED AT THE REQUEST OF THE WAKULLA
COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY.
FLOODING CONTINUES ACROSS MUCH OF WAKULLA COUNTY TODAY FROM HEAVY
RAINS THAT OCCURRED ON MONDAY. MANY ROADS AROUND THE COUNTY ARE
FLOODED OR WASHED OUT. THEREFORE...THE WAKULLA COUNTY EMERGENCY
MANAGEMENT AGENCY REQUESTS THAT PEOPLE STAY HOME AND OFF THE ROADS
UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. TRAVEL IS STRONGLY DISCOURAGED AND
COULD STILL BE DANGEROUS ACROSS PARTS OF THE AREA.
IF YOU HAVE FLOODING IMPACTING YOUR HOME...YOU CAN CALL THE WAKULLA
COUNTY SHERIFF`S DEPARTMENT FOR ASSISTANCE AT...850-745-7100