How much rain fell during Elsa? Here’s a county-by-county tour
Tropical Storm Elsa dropped some big rain totals in parts of Southwest Florida in the past 24 hours, especially in western Lee and Charlotte Counties. That’s where most areas averaged more than 6″, with some areas exceeding 11″!
Though South Florida is accustomed to heavy rain, that much rain falling across such a large area in less than a day can lead to significant flooding, and that was especially the case in areas of Cape Coral, Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte during the morning commute.
Related story: Waterborne illness lurk in lingering floodwaters, health officials warn
So how much rain fell? Here’s a roundup of the totals by county.
According to the National Weather Service, Punta Gorda tallied up a staggering 11.04″ of rain during Tropical Storm Elsa. Port Charlotte wasn’t far behind with 10.88″ by the time things finally wrapped up. Near the border with Sarasota County, rain gauge reports placed 10.86″ in North Port.
Doppler radar estimates place 8.9″ in El Jobean 6.9″ in Rivera Lagoons, 6.2″ in Ridge Harbor and 3.9″ in Englewood.
Rain gauge reports place 7.03″ inches of rain in Fort Myers over the last 24 hours, with the most significant totals running from the downtown area along and west of US41. Radar returns indicate 5.3″ in Fort Myers Villas, 7.3″ along McGregor Boulevard in Iona and 6.4″ on Fort Myers Beach.
A rain gauge report of 6.82″ was measured on Sanibel Island in Lee County, with 5.09″ reported in Bonita Springs, 3.5″ near Gateway, 3.9″ in Buckingham, 2.6″ south of Alva and 2.8″ in Lehigh Acres.
Cape Coral saw more rain than any other community in Lee County. This is where widespread rain amounts exceeded 6 and 7″, with locally higher amounts.
Though 6 to 7″ of rain is a lot of water, when you think about how large Cape Coral is, picturing the amount of water that fell in the last 24 hours is easier if you consider the size and weight of a gallon jug of water. That’s a unit of measurement most people can easily picture. And when you do the math, it’s astounding how much water fell from the sky if you think of it in terms of gallons of water!
Because of Cape Coral’s size (just more than 119 square miles), the calculated figure boils out to around 14.5 trillion gallons of water (or 14,523,783,949 gallons to be exact)! This value is calculated assuming the city averaged out with 7″ of rain, which jives with the blend of rain gauge reports and dual-polarized Doppler radar-pegged values.
Want to figure out how many gallons of water fell over your town? It’s easier than you think! The United States Geological Survey has a free online calculator you can use here. To find the value, all you’ll need to know is how many inches of rain fell and how many acres, square miles or feet an area is large. (Meaning you can even figure out how much water fell down to the size of your very yard! )
Though Collier County saw the brunt of Tropical Storm Elsa’s rain early in the day on Tuesday, the rain amounts observed there ended up being much smaller than those measured in Lee and Collier. Radar values place most areas west of Interstate 75 with between 3 and 4″. Marco Island for instance ended up at 3.8″ with Naples at 3.1″ and Golden Gate Estates with 1.4″
There was a large gradient in rain totals across DeSoto County running from west to east. Western DeSoto County (west of US17 along the Sarasota County line) averaged around 6.5″, while eastern DeSoto County east of Joshua wound up with less than 3″. Radar values peg 5″ in Lake Suzy, 6″ in Pine Level and 3.9″ in Arcadia.
The National Weather Service had a measured rain gauge report of 5.49″ in Fort Meade. You can check out other regional rain reports from the NWS from the west coast of Florida here.
GLADES AND HENDRY COUNTIES
Compared to our coastal areas, communities in Hendry and Glades Counties saw significantly less rainfall. In fact, rain totals ended up less than a half inch in Moore Haven and Clewiston! The highest values between these two counties was across western Glades where in the map below, regions shaded in with yellow saw 2″+. It’s important to point out here that individual rain gauges measured more than what these regional depictions show.
Though it may feel like we’ve been in hurricane season for a while now after dealing with Elsa for the past week, we have a very long way to go before the season ends at the end of November. Typically the frequency and intensity of storms picks up in late summer and early fall with September being the climatological peak.
Get up to speed on what to do before, during and after a tropical system is nearby by checking out NBC2’s free online 2021 hurricane guide here.
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