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Despite 4 to 7 Inches of Rain, Palm Coast And Flagler Are Still Facing Drought

| December 12, 2011

Click on the map for larger view. (NOAA)

For all the seemingly diluvian rains of the last 24 hours over Flagler County–and some localized flooding–the area remains in drought conditions, Troy Harper, the county’s emergency operations director, said this afternoon. “We’re still in drought and we’ll still be for a while,” he said.

By then the bulk of the rain had fallen, drenching the area of Bunnell around the county’s Emergency Operations Center in just over 7 inches, the most in the county, and parts of Palm Coast in more than 4 inches. The National Weather Service had issued a flood warning for parts of the county. The parking lot at Flagler Palm Coast High School, for example, turned into a bit of a pool. There was localized flooding, but no homes or businesses were directly affected.

The county’s EOC summed up the day’s issues this way:

  • At 8 a.m., water over the road was reported by the Flagler Beach Police Department at various points on State Road A1A, including North 6th, North 15th, and South 13th Streets. The south lane on a portion of A1A was also closed this afternoon because of power line issues.
  • A flood advisory was issued at 9:30 a.m., upgraded to a flood warning at 10:49 a.m., and in effect until 12:45 p.m.
  • Water over the road was reported at 10:30 a.m. between Candleberry and Satinwood in Daytona North (the Mondex).
  • Water over the road was reported at 10:38 a.m. at Woodbury Drive and Pine Lakes Parkway in Palm Coast.
  • A washout making the road impassable was reported by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office just before 1 p.m. in the 3800 Block of Old Haw Creek Road, a dirt road. That was repaired.

By 3 p.m. emergency operations reported all roads open unless hampered by traffic crashes.

But with 19 days left in the 2011 calendar, the year’s total rainfall is still 30 percent below the average of 50 to 52 inches of normal rainfall for the area. There’d been 31 inches to date, officially, before this morning’s rains. That creates short-term and long-term problems, Harper said. In the short term, less rainfall over the year means vegetation will be affected. Drier weather, especially combined with freezes, heightens fire conditions, and may precipitate the fire season, which saw brush fires last year as early as December, and intensified into the worst fire season in Flagler in 13 years, peaking in June. The county has not experienced particularly severe tropical storms that might have erased the precipitation deficit.

In the long term, persistent drought means that the aquifer is not getting replenished as much as it should be, which opens the region to potential water shortages in the distant future.

La Nina, which typically lasts from one to three years, is making matters worse, though no specific storm can be directly attributed to the phenomenon. La Nina is the cooling phase of ocean surface temperatures in the Pacific. It occurs every three to five years. From August to October, that may lead to increased hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean. “A majority of the models predict a weak or moderate strength La Niña to continue through the Northern Hemisphere winter,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says, “and then gradually weaken after peaking during the December – January period.”

But less rain and warmer weather is expected over the next few weeks: “During December 2011 – February 2012, there is an increased chance of above-average temperatures across the south-central and southeastern U.S.,” NOAA reports, “below-average temperatures over the western and north-central U.S. Also, above-average precipitation is favored across the northern tier of states, excluding New England, and drier-than-average conditions are more likely across the southern tier of the U.S.”

Tonight in Flagler, some showers are expected to continue through tomorrow, but only intermittently so. By tomorrow evening, the area will see mostly clear skies and cool temperatures.

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1 Response for “Despite 4 to 7 Inches of Rain, Palm Coast And Flagler Are Still Facing Drought”

  1. PalmCoastPioneers says:

    Palm Coasts’ Water Table:
    The Orlando Sentinel

    Dramatically changing the damaged image of usually damned developers, ITT Levitt Corp., now buildling Palm Coast, the country’s largest housing project in Flagler County, is winning kudos instead of kicks from conservationists.

    More than that, with long-range environmental planning and careful study by staff

    ecologists, the mammoth venture may not only set an example for future would be despoilers but come up with some urgently sought answers to pollution problems.

    For Example, ITT Levitt scientists are investigating why St. Johns and Flagler County shellfish harvests had to be prohibited because of contaminated waters. The hope s to reverse conditions that required the ban, if possible.

    Preliminary findings indicate sewage dumped principal culprit, according to Dr. Stanley Dea, the firm’s chief ecologist.


    Therefore, in order not to aggravate th situation, ITT Levitt is making a detailed engineering analysis of sewage disposal possibilities to come up with designs new for Florida, and cheaper, Dr. Dea said.

    Because Florida’s flat terrain and high ground water level have made gravity systems costly, developers have tended to use septic tanks. But septic systems have become a serious factor in the pollution picture.

    America’s biggest conglomerate, therefore, is exploring feasibility of pressure and vacuum systems which may be tried for the first time in the Florida venture.

    Meanwhile, in the first section now under construction, 20,000 acres of the total of 100,000, sewage will get secondary treatment, prior to storage in a polising lagoon, providing tertiary treatment. Effluent thus purified but still nutrient rich will be used to irrigate an 18 Hole golf course.

    Sewage Studies

    This recycling, by an adaptation of nature’s own system, is a relatively new concept in sewage disposal developed at Pennsylvania State University and now in use in several California communities and in one near Tallahassee.

    Much of the polution and “murder’ of streams, and lakes, such as Apopka, is the result of eutrophication or over-enrichment by nutrients, which are not removed by treatment plants.

    As most plants discharge into some body of water, pollution results. If , however, the treated effluent is sprayed on vegetation, as was demonstrated at Penn State and is planned for Palm Coast, it irrigates and fertilizes crops and even raises the ground water table. The vegetation absorbs the nutrients that would eventually destroy streams, lakes, and estuaries.

    ————>Using Willows

    Palm Coast ecologists plan to plant Florida vegetation and particularly high absorption qualities, such as willows. <———

    Engineers have devised a mechanical apparatus which can fit in a residential size and style bulding, so the neighborhood view will not be spoiled by an unsightly treatment plant. A chemical has been developed that eradicates the odor, according to Dick Beidl, Palm Coast public affairs officer.

    The University of Florida's famed coastal engineering department, whose $1 million facilities are now considered unexcelled in the United States, is advising how best to lay out the system of canals for waterfront property so that tidal action will keep them flushed clean, Beidl said.

    A brief flurry of local fears that the big dredge churning inland from the Intracoastal Waterway channel to scoop out a yacht basin would increase turbidity in the estuaries has been set at rest.

    Dike Employed

    Although the dredge is operating in a man made cut not subject to provisions of the Randall Act, ITT Levitt will still 'plug' the opening into the Intracoastal with a dike until its earth stirring digging is completed and settled.

    "It's the cleanest operation I've seen. No problems", said Larry Shanks, of the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission at Vero Beach, who inspected the site last week.

    The Operation is pumping the material removed by a 1 1/4 mile pipe line that crosses the waterway and runs under highway A1A.

    With a 1100 housepower booster pump the excavated sand is being hoisted up and down over this uneven course to fill a depression just behind the sand dunes which rim the ocean shore.

    The hole will be filled to a height of about 20 feet above sea-level about even with the dunes; and this will be the site of a motel, probably to be operated by Sheraton, another ITT subsidiary.

    Dunes Retained

    Shands had nothng but praise also for this beachfront plan which contemplates leaving the natural dunes as a stabliizer against erosion.

    Palm Coast experts are also studying the whys and wherefores of erosion and exploring preventative treatment, according to Dea.

    Palm Coast has also handed its brain trust the choking problem of weed eradication, he said.

    At the display site, where six model homes and four story office building with viewing tower are under construction, bulldozers wove an intricate path around trees marked for salvation instead of knocking everything down.

    This more costly method has won approval of forestry officials, and Palm Coast expects it to pay off in long-run appeal of attractive landscaping to prospective purchasers.

    Space Advantage

    In the master land use plan, thousands of acres will be presserved in the natural state, Dea said.

    Additionally, there will be parks and artificial ribbon lakes, Studies are being made to ascertain optimum factors for maintaining maximum sport fish populations in these.

    Palm Coast's planning advantage, Beidl said, lies in having control of the entire 100,000 acres. To get this vast land area in focus, it can be compared with the area of all five boroghs of Greater New York City, for example, which cover only about half that territory, or with the city of Detroit which spreads over about 88,000 acres.

    Projection is for an ultimate population here of only about 750,000 as compared with New York's 11.5 million and Detroit's four million.

    An area comparison closer to home is with the Disney's 27,000 acres.

    Strict Zoning

    The assure adherence to this careful planning. Dr. Dea said is a model zoning and building code is being formulates, which will not merely meet, but 'exceed' in stringency all federal state, and local regulations, including those necessary to control air, water, solid waste, radiation, noise, and vibration pollution.

    This will cover not just major regulations affecting industries which might be attracted to the area, but also folksy questions such as when and even whether residences may have trash incinerators in their back yards.

    Even one possible future doubt raised apparently will be resolved in favor of conservation, according to Harold 'Burrows, and engineer on the project.

    Line Questioned

    Question arose at a recent country commisiioners meeting about a bulkhead line

    for Longs Creek, which branching off the Matanzas River, meanders through the tract a few miles north of the first 'Five Year Plan' development now under construction.

    some 3,000 to 9,000 on the creek, are submerged public lands under control of the Trustees of the Internal Improvement Fund.

    Burrows conceeded that prior to recent legislative action, this would have beenn 'prime development property'.But under present law 'we will sit down with the Department of Natural Resources and do what they tell us we can."

    AD 2531


    A planned community by the ITT Levitt Development Corporation

    A subsidiary of Levitt and Sons, incorporated/ A Worldwide Service of ITT

    A request from us, as you drive around all the Communities of Palm Coast please watch for the Willow.
    The State has told us they are looking for a "Champion" and if we find them they will personally come here and 'Crown' this Champion.
    For those knowing or finding them please contact C. Bennett at the City. Thank you very much for you efforts in helping us. Thank you.
    Also,…keep a watchful eye for the endangered Black Mangrove – we are having the area of Country Club Place, Cambridge Court, and Cypress Court evaluated for them but it is also very helpful to know where all of them are since the State is also looking for a Champion there too. Thank you.
    With luck, Flagler County / Palm Coast will have TWO Champions crowned by the State of Florida!

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