Record rainfall pelts Gainesville area

Almost two inches of rain fell on the city Tuesday to break the record of 1.18 inches set in 1924.


Published: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 8:44 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 11:47 p.m.

While a record amount of rainfall fell on Gainesville Tuesday, lightning from a wave of thunderstorms that deluged the region sparked a fire that destroyed a double-wide mobile home near Archer.

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Alex Gentilella, a biotechnology and statistics major at the University of Florida, tries to stay dry on a rainy day in Gainesville, Fla., Tuesday, January 25, 2011.

Erica Brough/ Staff photographer

Facts

National Weather Service forecast for Gainesville

Tonight: Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. Some of the storms could be severe and produce heavy rainfall. Low around 57. Southwest wind between 11 and 14 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%.
Wednesday: Cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly sunny, with a high near 63. Breezy, with a west wind between 17 and 21 mph, with gusts as high as 31 mph.
Wednesday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 34. West wind between 7 and 11 mph.
Thursday: Sunny, with a high near 60. West wind between 8 and 11 mph.
Thursday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 32.

The storm brought 1.84 inches of rain as of 8 p.m., breaking the record of 1.18 inches set in 1924, said meteorologist Jason Hess.

"You set a record total for the date in Gainesville," Hess said.



The rain was from a low-pressure system from the Gulf of Mexico that swept across North Florida in advance of a cold front.

Tuesday's storm also brought lightning. One strike apparently started a destructive fire about 3:45 p.m. at the home of Philip Kamp Jr. at 9610 SW 282nd St., said Ed Kennedy, district chief with Alachua County Fire Rescue.

"Crews from Alachua County and Newberry responded to find flames coming through the roof," Kennedy said. "It's totally destroyed. It got hit by lightning and went up through the roof. Most of the damage was in the roof area so a lot of his personal possessions we were able to save."

Despite the downpours, few other problems were reported, law enforcement and fire officials said.

"We haven't had the massive pile-ups on (Interstate 75) that we usually have," said Alachua County sheriff's spokesman Art Forgey.

Gainesville Police Cpl. Tscharna Senn added that no major incidents occurred from the weather.

Kennedy said firefighters had difficulty getting to the fire at Kamp's home because of the rain.

"The response was slowed somewhat because of the weather," Kennedy said. "The rain was real hard and the roads were flooded — puddles all over them. We were warning crews as they were getting out here."

The Red Cross was called to assist Kamp with lodging, Kennedy added.

A tornado warning was issued for extreme southeastern Alachua County and northern Marion County for a time Tuesday afternoon but none apparently funneled down from the storm, according to the National Weather Service in Jacksonville.

A tornado watch remained in effect until 9 p.m.

The weather had some school districts scrambling.

At about 3:40 p.m., Levy County Superintendent of Schools Robert O. Hastings ordered all after-school activities canceled for the county. Officials said concerns about high winds forecast for the county were the reason for the cancellation.

The storm system should be gone by midday today, leaving behind sunny skies and afternoon highs in the mid-60s. For the remainder of the week, look for mostly sunny skies with daytime highs in the 60s and overnight lows in the 30s.

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