Los Angeles 9/29/2010 6:24:51 PM
News / Weather

South Florida under a wet blanket

South Florida woke under massive tropical depression moving on a track that would take it pretty much right up Interstate 95 later Wednesday. The National Hurricane Center said, it was on the verge of becoming Tropical Storm Nicole before it crosses the Florida Straits and makes landfall in the Upper Keys, then somewhere in South Miami-Dade County.

There was standing water in the region but no initial reports of widespread flooding. Forecasters were expecting four to eight inches overall, steady for much of the day but coming down in two-inches-an-hour torrents when the system's strongest cells roll through.

Robert Molleda, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami, said coastal residents in South Florida will feel the impact of the mainland brunts. East winds could hit 34 mph and gusts could top 48 mph. That forecast could change if the system shifts track, he said. A jog to the east and out to sea could reduce winds and rain and one in the opposite direction could increase them.

Water managers were lowering canal levels in Miami-Dade County and Broward in preparation, said Susan Sylvester, director of operations for the South Florida Water Management District.

With sparse rain in the past week, Sylvester said South Florida was in a good position to absorb a soaking across the region, including Everglades’s water conservation areas bordering Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach and in Lake Okeechobee, where high water poses a threat to an aging dike.

"They're all in a favorable position to receive water,'' she said.