Open the Floodgates

Sarasota Broke Rainfall Records in June

After almost a year of drought conditions, a historic amount of water fell from the sky yesterday.

By Megan McDonald June 12, 2024

Flooding at Washington Boulevard and Main Street in downtown Sarasota on June 11. Multiple cars were towed due to heavy rain and flooding.

That drenching "wall of rain" Sarasota got yesterday—and will continue to get this week—set local rainfall records. Nearly 4 inches—3.93 inches, to be exact—fell at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport in one hour yesterday afternoon, the most to fall since records began in 1972. Meanwhile, a National Weather Service weather station on Siesta Key reported nearly a foot of rain yesterday, with many locations reporting more than 5 inches of precipitation.

“It’s like a garden hose," says Bernie Rayno, AccuWeather's chief on-air meteorologist. "Instead of it being on spray, it’s on stream, bringing heavy rain in one area. That’s why we’re seeing so much rain.”

This is not your typical Florida summer storm. In fact, this kind of rainfall is so rare, it has a .01 percent change of ever happening—that is, happening once every 1,000 years.

This is the second 1,000-year flooding event Sarasota has experienced in the past two years. In addition to yesterday's floods, in 2022, Hurricane Ian roared ashore and caused severe flooding in south Sarasota County.

"Imagine, two 1,000-year floods in two years—and a historic drought in between," says Bob Bunting, a longtime meteorologist and CEO of Sarasota's Climate Adaptation Center. "This is a signal from a warming climate."

This week's waterlogging may not be over: 6 to 10 more inches of rain are still expected to fall this week as the tropical rainstorm moves across the state, which means a third 1,000-year event is possible.

Flash flooding is a major concern when dealing with this much rainfall, but river flooding could be possible by the end of the week, too, according to the National Weather Service. If you're out, make sure to take precautions: stay away from the beaches due to increased risk of rip currents and rough surf, and don't travel through flooded roads. Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling, and a foot of water will float many vehicles.

For the most up-to-date information on flooding and closed roads, visit scgov.net or call 311.

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