Floridians still dealing with cleanup and recovery from Irma will face unfavorable conditions this week as persistent onshore flow creates a wide array of hazards.
After a tropical disturbance bringing localized flash flooding to the northern Florida Peninsula on Sunday drifts westward into the Gulf of Mexico, strong, easterly winds will buffet the east coast of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina through midweek.
A large, nearly stationary area of high pressure parked over the northeastern United States is to blame for the onslaught of gusty winds.
A high pressure represents a zone of sinking air in the atmosphere, around which winds rotate in a clockwise direction. Areas well to the south of a high’s center can expect winds to blow from an easterly direction.
Rough surf, rip currents and beach erosion are the primary hazards that will result from the unchanging weather pattern this week.
“Anyone hoping to spend time on the eastern shores of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina this week will need to be wary of getting in the water,” according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Faith Eherts.
Eherts added that, while rough surf may discourage many from going swimming, those who choose to do so must face the invisible threat of rip currents.
Because persistent onshore flow forces ocean waters to press against the coastline, the pounding surf will inevitably cause beach erosion and potentially alter portions of the shoreline by the time winds subside and change direction.
During high tide, people living within a few feet of sea level should be wary of coastal flooding and move inland to higher ground if necessary.
Residents in Jacksonville, Florida, devastated by flooding from the record crest of 5.57 feet along the St. Johns River during Irma may be faced with additional flooding concerns this week from the combination of downpours and elevated tidal levels.
Efforts of those trying to rebuild and repair homes damaged by Irma’s destructive storm surge and extreme winds might be thwarted by bouts of showers and battering winds this week.
“While winds will subside at South Carolina and Georgia beaches by midweek, unsettled weather is expected to continue in Florida into the coming weekend,” Eherts said.
There remains the possibility of more impactful tropical activity through the middle of October as the overall weather pattern remains conducive for development. People living in Florida and across the Southeast should closely follow the state of the tropics for potential threats.