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FIRST ALERT: Gulf disturbance creates soggy weekend scenario for the region

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Posted at 4:30 PM, May 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-22 13:28:26-04

MIDWAY, Fla. (WTXL) -- Signs are still pointing to periods of rain for most of northern Florida and southern Georgia this upcoming Memorial Day weekend, perhaps even approaching washout conditions, because of tropical moisture and the projected development of low pressure.

While forecast indications have suggested the formation of a disorganized low-pressure circulation which may acquire tropical or subtropical identity, the main impact for the Gulf coast region will be extensive cloud cover and areas of rain, which may add up to several inches of accumulation over several days.

A complex set-up in the Gulf and the western Caribbean will mix with a rich flow of moisture, already established in the eastern Gulf for over a week.  Upper disturbances will help form and support a wave of heavier rain and some thunderstorms reaching the southernmost Gulf of Mexico by late this week.  High pressure, anchored over the western Atlantic Ocean, is expected to nudge the disturbance over a warmer patch of southern gulf waters.

Upper-level winds will remain brisk and active, limiting chances for full-fledged, rapid development into a tropical cyclone.  However, there will be abundant moisture flowing from the south to produce areas of rain for many Gulf coast locations while the system remains disorganized.

The precise amounts of local rainfall will depend on many factors, some of which include:  how strong the low-pressure system gets, where the disturbance moves in relation to specific areas, and how fast or slow it goes.

For the Big Bend and southern Georgia areas, a longer duration of cloud cover and periods of rain can be expected this weekend. Rain totals will range from a couple of inches in eastern sections near the Suwannee River to over six inches along some coastal locations of the Panhandle through Memorial Day.  Areas with excessive rain accumulation can experience flooding.

Regardless of the eventual development of the system, and whether it gains named storm status, wind gusts should be low-impact for the area, with occasional higher winds well offshore in the Gulf.  Higher surf is likely, with greater risks for dangerous rip currents along Panhandle and Forgotten Coast beaches during the weekend.