Okaloosa County flash flood watch extended; Shoal River expected to reach flood stage
A flash flood watch for Okaloosa County has been extended through 7 p.m. Friday as heavy rainfall continues to impact the Gulf Coast.
Additionally, there is a flood warning in effect for the Shoal River near Crestview, which was forecast to rise just above flood stage Thursday night and potentially cause minor flooding in yards on Sowell Drive on Friday.
On Thursday, flash flood watches were in effect from southeast Louisiana, across southern Mississippi and Alabama to the Florida Panhandle as the decaying remnants of Post Tropical Cyclone Nicholas continued to douse the region. The rain is expected to create a long-duration flood event that will persist into this weekend.
According to a weather briefing from Okaloosa County Director of Public Safety Patrick Maddox, "An additional 3-6 inches with locally higher amounts are expected through the end of the week in the Flash Flood Watch area, especially near the coast. Significant flooding will persist across the southern portion of the area along with river flooding. Some of these areas near the coast have already received 5 to 10 inches of rain to our West."
Okaloosa has received less rain. However, Maddox's briefing noted that any additional rain in our area would exacerbate flooding of already saturated soils.
"We are also concerned about another round of heavy rainfall on Friday (potentially through the weekend) that could produce rainfall in excess of what is discussed above," Maddox's briefing said.
Officials are keeping a particularly close eye on the Shoal River.
At 9:15 a.m. Thursday the river's stage was 6.4 feet. Flood stage, the stage at which rivers overflow their natural banks and begin to cause damage in the local area, is 8 feet for the Shoal River, according to a National Weather Service flood warning.
At 8.5 feet, water will reach yards on Sowell Drive.
The river is expected to rise above flood stage just after midnight and reach a crest of 9 feet Friday evening. It will then fall below flood stage Saturday afternoon.
The "moderate" flood stage for the river is 12 feet, and flooding does not impact homes on the south bank it until it reaches 13 feet.
Separately, Walton County is also under under flash flood watch through 7 p.m. Friday.
The National Weather Service in Tallahassee forecasted widespread totals of 2 to 3 inches of rain Thursday, with isolated higher amounts possible across the Florida Panhandle through Friday. "Given already saturated conditions, flash flooding will be possible," NWS noted.