Regardless of Hurricane Dorian's exact track and strength, it will be moving slowly and could also cause an inland flooding disaster somewhere over Florida and other parts of the southeastern United States into next week.
(TNS) - The Sarasota-Bradenton area is still wringing out 32 inches of rain since June 1 — about 78% of this year's precipitation — that has kept local waterways close to flood stage since July. More rain from Hurricane Dorian could cause the Peace and Myakka rivers that are less than a foot from flood stage to quickly swell and put waterlogged inland areas at risk from fast-rising water.
But weather experts say that threat is conditional on how close Dorian's compact rain bands come to our area.
The worst-case scenario is if Dorian crosses the state and passes over the Sarasota-Bradenton area bringing with it a chance for a foot of rain and sustained tropical storm-force winds of 39 to 75 mph, weaker than the hurricane is expected to be at landfall on the east coast, when it is forecast to be a Category 4 storm.
"The ground is like a saturated sponge right now," said Tony Hurt, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service. "It soaks up all it can, but right now, it can't soak up any more. Any additional rainfall will only cause the rivers to rise."
The National Weather Service has not issued any watches or warnings for flooding or tropical weather in the Sarasota-Bradenton area.
"Residents and visitors in the entire state of Florida should start preparing now for a potentially devastating hurricane due to both wind and water," said Rick Knabb, a hurricane expert at The Weather Channel. "While we don't know exactly where it will start arriving late this weekend, the entire east coast of Florida is at risk for storm surge and high winds into early next week.
Hurricanes are not just coastal events, and destructive winds could extend inland over the Florida peninsula. And regardless of Dorian's exact track and strength, it will be moving slowly and could also cause an inland flooding disaster somewhere over Florida and other parts of the southeastern United States into next week.
Manatee County Emergency Management officials said they will declare a local state of emergency Friday morning. Public Works will make sandbags available at four area locations Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The sandbags will be available Friday and Saturday at the following sites: G.T. Bray Park parking lot, Bennett Park, Lakewood Ranch Park and the Bradenton Area Convention Center.
The County's Citizen Information Center line, 941-749-3547, will field calls from the public Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
There are no plans yet for an evacuation or shelter openings, but Manatee County residents should monitor the news and the county's social media pages for updates, said Emergency Management Chief Steve Litschauer.
"Now's the time for Manatee County residents to get their plan in place," acting Public Safety Director Jake Saur said. Dorian "will be a wind and rain event that will impact folks in mobile homes and low lying areas most. Our residents should plan to shelter in place at home and prepare to possibly be without power or water for a couple of days after the storm."
Sarasota County announced it will have sandbags available Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Newtown Estates Park, 2800 Newtown Blvd.; Twin Lakes Park, 6700 Clark Road.; and South County Fleet Facility, 4571 State Road 776/Englewood Road in Venice. Up to 10 bags per household will be available while supplies last.
Currently, the Manatee River is at 1.62 feet, about 10 feet below flood stage. However, the Peace and Myakka rivers are less than a foot from flood stage, according to National Weather Services gauges at Myakka River State Park and Arcadia.
"Whether it's the GFS, EURO, Canadian model, all the models I've seen with precipitation have a tight band of high accumulation around the center of Dorian," SNN-TV meteorologist Marco La Manno. "It doesn't always work like that. With a storm like Irma you had flooding everywhere, but it's not like that with Dorian."
Wednesday forecasts called for two to four inches of rain through the following Wednesday, Sept. 4.
Trees in waterlogged areas are more prone to falling.
State and local emergency management officials are preparing for the worst in all counties within the five-day error cone.
On Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in Florida anticipating the third major hurricane in Florida since 2017. Prior to 2016, the last major hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. was Hurricane Wilma in 2005.
The good news on Thursday for Southwest Florida was that Dorian appeared to be slowing down, which increased the chances it could turn north after it makes landfall, La Manno said.
"If it could go 25 miles north of where it's expected that would be a huge difference on where the impacts could be," he said. "There are plenty of scenarios where the Suncoast gets off with wind and rain. But get your essentials now and this weekend we should have a better idea if people should put up shutters."
©2019 Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Fla.
Visit Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Fla. at www.heraldtribune.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC