TS Lee to deliver rain

Published 2:04 am Saturday, September 3, 2011

Rain from Tropical Storm Lee should begin to fall in Covington County this afternoon, and by Wednesday, could total up to 15 inches of rain in parts of Alabama.

By Friday afternoon, the system – which began as Tropical Depression 13 – had been upgraded to a tropical storm, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph.

Models from the National Weather Service are predicting a total rainfall accumulation of 3 to 6 inches locally from the storm; however, there’s no way to know exactly how much will fall on the area, said Susan Harris, county emergency management agency director.

“At this point it is a watch-and-see event,” Harris said. “We are prepared for large amounts of rain, but at this point no one knows exactly what will come our way.”

As of Friday afternoon, the main threat for significant flooding appears to be setting up southwest of a Hattiesburg, Miss., to Pensacola, Fla., line, but that could change and shift northeast based on the eventual track and strength of the system.

Don Johnson, interim director of the Covington County Chapter of the American Red Cross, said it’s important for residents to take steps now to stay safe when a flood threatens.

“This storm could be a big rain maker, with projection of a lot of rain in the state starting (today) and all the way through Monday,” Johnson said. “My feeling is we should be prepared because Mother Nature is going to do whatever, whenever, wherever she wants.”

Johnson said the Red Cross is monitoring the storm and is prepared to respond if needed.

With heavy amounts of rainfall dropping quickly, the chances of a flash flood grow. Beginning today, there is also the possibility of isolated tornadoes as bands of stronger storms make their way through the area.

And those with a beach trip planned for the Labor Day holiday should take note of Tropical Storm Lee – deadly rip currents and high surf are predicted from Dauphin Island and Pensacola, Fla., to Destin, Fla. Rip currents closed beaches in Bay County, Fla. On Thursday. A small craft warning is in place.

Lee is the 12th named storm of the season.