Rain, flooding continues in North Central Florida

Rainfall in North Central Florida continues to leave parks saturated and rivers at or past their flood stages.

The Santa Fe River near O’Leno State Park sits at 44.85 inches with a flood stage of 43, and the site is expected to rise until it crests on Sept. 24.

Other Santa Fe River locations, like where U.S. Highway 441 crosses the river, are expected to follow a similar pattern, though not nearly to the same extent as after Hurricane Elsa earlier this summer.

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Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service (NWS) in Jacksonville issued a moderate flood warning along the Santa Fe River near Fort White. The release said moderate flooding is expected by Saturday.

NWS announced that more rain is coming Tuesday as winds from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean will merge west of the St. Johns River and form thunderstorms that could hit with rates of 4 inches of rain an hour.

Gilchrist County averaged around 9 inches of rain in August, and Gainesville received 3.7 inches on Sept. 19-20, according to the Waccasassa Forestry Center.

Currently, no Alachua County parks are closed due to flooding, but many trails are still wet. Gainesville saw its sixth wettest July on record this year with 13.99 inches of rain.

Ricky Way at Gainesville’s Morningside Nature Center said this year has seemed fairly wet. He said the pattern fluctuates back and forth. Wet years recharge certain species of fauna and flora while dry years do the same.

“A lot of our trails right now are really wet if not completely underwater,” Way said, adding that the park still keeps the trails open.

Some people hike through the flooded parts in sandals, but he warned to keep an eye out for cottonmouths while splashing through.

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