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Unusual Low Pressure System Swamps Florida Over the Weekend


Florida - Monday December 18, 2023: An unusual late fall low pressure system cut across Florida over the weekend dumping heavy rains across the state that shattered rainfall records, and caused widespread flooding.

It began to develop over the eastern Gulf of Mexico last Wednesday and advanced toward the Florida Big Bend and Nature Coast Friday night into Saturday, lingering through Sunday before heading to points north. Its impact was felt statewide.

The heaviest rainfall occurred over portions of North and Central Florida, from the eastern Florida Panhandle through the I-4 corridor, as well as along the Florida East Coast and Keys.

From Saturday afternoon through Sunday evening 4 to 8 inches of rainfall was observed in some areas of Brevard County and southeastern Orange County. Similar amounts were recorded in the Suwannee River Valley and northeast Florida and central where heavy rainfall caused some rivers to reach flood stage. River Flood Warnings remaining in effect Monday for the Aucilla, St. Mary’s, St. Johns, Econfina, and Santa Fe Rivers. Many other parts of the state saw up to 5 inches of rainfall.

The storm caused widespread flooding, and forced the cancellation of boat parades and other holiday celebrations.

Strong winds came along with this intense storm, knocking down trees and tree limbs, along with Christmas lightening and decorations. More than 11,000 power outages were reported throughout the Sunshine State. As of 4 p.m. Sunday over 100,000 utility accounts had their power restored.

The National Weather Service issued flood warnings and minor flooding advisories for a wide swath of the state, from the southwest Gulf Coast to Jacksonville. Coastal advisories were issued for much of Florida as strong winds churned waters in the Gulf and along the north Atlantic coast.

Major airports remained open, however, at the start of the busy holiday travel season.

The storm could be good news for residents in southwest Florida who have been facing water restrictions and drought conditions heading into what normally is the region's dry season.

State Agencies Response to the Storm

State emergency responders were kept busy throughout the weekend. Governor DeSantis activated the Florida State Guard and directed all state agencies to prepare resources to provide immediate response and recovery resources.  

State Response Efforts

  • Prior to landfall, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (Division) increased their warehousing operations to ensure pumps and flood control systems are working and ready to be deployed into the areas of impact.
  • The Division increased staffing, including meteorologists, in the State Watch Office to monitor the storm’s landfall overnight and respond to local requests for assistance as received.
  • Regional response and recovery coordinators remain on standby ready to support counties with their response and recovery efforts.
  • The Division remains in communication with areas impacted by the storm and stands ready to deploy state resources as requested at the local level.
  • Following Governor DeSantis’ activation of the Florida State Guard (FSG) for the Gulf Low storm, the FSG worked in coordination with the Division to mobilize volunteers and position resources to serve impacted communities with a rapid response of less than 12 hours.
  • Upon activation, the FSG immediately deployed two crisis response teams capable of maritime flood and storm surge response, route clearance, and damage assessments in addition to another platoon, prepared to deploy to the highest impacted areas with the capability to conduct logistical distribution and debris cleanup.
  • The FSG staged two maritime response vessels, six trailered UTVs, five F350’s for supply distribution, and two trailered high water rescue vehicles.
  • The FSG equipped its deployment teams with chainsaws, MRE's, and safety and rescue equipment to respond rapidly as directed.
  • The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) stands ready to provide any needed assistance to drinking water, wastewater and hazardous waste facilities.
  • The South Florida Water Management District continues to engage with local governments in Miami-Dade and Broward counties to support flood control efforts throughout the regional canal system. The District remains able to provide technical and other support to local governments and drainage operators. The regional canal system is fully operational with no issues at this time. 
  • Currently, no Florida State Parks are closed.
  • The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) remains ready to assist impacted areas with local assets.

Infrastructure, Roads, State Closures and Outages

  • Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) statewide maintenance crews and operations yards were monitoring weather conditions starting on Friday, with pumps and generators available to support local needs.
  • Following the storm, FDOT response crews observed and addressed minor edgeline erosion along A1A in Ormond Beach following the weather impacts.
  • In Pinellas County, FDOT crews removed sand from Gulf Blvd following the weather impacts.
  • Florida’s Utility Providers utilized pre-positioned crews across the state to respond as soon as conditions became safe to do so.
  • Florida Power & Light has restored power to over 70,000 customers (over 95% of impacted customers) across the Florida Peninsula and continue to restore power to remaining customers who can safely receive it.
  • Duke Energy restored over 45,000 customers impacted by the weather event, with crews actively working to restore the final 500 customers as of 7:00 tonight.
  • Florida’s Municipal Electric Providers have essentially restored power to over 25,000 customers impacted by the storm.
  • Florida’s Electric Cooperatives have essentially restored power in most cooperative territories and continue to complete final operations.
  • TECO and Florida Public Utilities have essentially restored power to impacted customers in their respective service territories.

Resources for Employees and Businesses

  • FloridaCommerce and the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) activated the Business Damage Assessment Survey today for businesses impacted by the December Gulf Low Pressure System in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee and Pasco counties. Businesses can self report their estimated physical and economic damages by visiting and selecting “December Gulf Low Pressure System” from the drop down menu.

For more information visit: