NOAA predicts warm, wet spring for Florida Panhandle

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (WMBB) — The National Weather Service (NWS) is predicting a warm and wet spring for the Florida panhandle. 

Walton County Emergency Management said they are prepared.

“We get a lot of rain, a lot of high winds, straight-line winds, come through. It’s our severe weather season,” said Jeff Goldberg, emergency management director.

A recent outlook by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) helps communities prepare for what’s ahead. 

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center released the spring outlook on March 21st. The prediction shows the panhandle is above average for rainfall temperatures. 

With an increase in estimated rainfall, the panhandle is predicted to avoid a drought and be at a higher risk of areal floods. 

“Rain will fall heavily north of us and then it will start flooding our rivers and creeks and tributaries and that causes some of the flooding along the Choctawhatchee,” said Goldberg. “If the rain is localized to here and not north of here, we may get a lot of flash flooding.” 

Walton County saw 3 confirmed tornadoes in January of 2024 showing severe weather can happen at any time. Goldberg said residents need to be prepared.

“Have 72 hours or more in your disaster supply kit. Have all of your important papers scanned and uploaded to the clouds, medication, nonperishable food, because even though, people may be hearing me talk about this and thinking, ‘well you’re talking about hurricanes’, no, it could be a prolonged power outage due to heavy rainfall and winds,” said Goldberg. 

The increase of rainfall happens during an El Nino year. NWS says they expect La Nina conditions to begin this summer. 

“Our big thing is we’re monitoring what’s going on. We’re working with our partners at the National Weather Service. We’re disseminating information to the public so they can be prepared,” said Goldberg. 

NOAA said this is the first spring outlook since 2021 with no prediction of major floods.  

To sign up for Walton County emergency alerts, go online.

Look at the full NOAA Spring Outlook here.

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