During many northeast Florida spring seasons, the lack of rain combines with temperatures climbing to near 90 degrees. This year temperatures have not risen as high because of the passing of weekly cold fronts. Three days of rain that totalled from 6 to more than 12 inches not only eliminated the danger of wildfires, but also caused rapid flooding of Black Creek near Middleburg.

Jacksonville’s history of erratic weather is not restricted to any season or year, but the unexpected arrival of an event at an unlikely season has taught us to prepare for the unexpected. Here are a few of Jacksonville’s such May events:

In the early years of the 20th century downtown streets were submerged by 9 inches of rain on May 12-13 in 1903, followed by a 12.90 inch rainfall three years later on May 21-25.

My first experience of a local surprise flood was on the night of May 20-21, 1959 when 15 inches of rain fell between midnight and daybreak on Downtown Jacksonville and on the Southside in San Marco. The roof of a furniture store collapsed under the weight of the water while rising waters of Hogan’s Creek rose to the rooftops of cars near the State Board of Health on Broad Street. At that time there was little of no official rain measured at Jacksonville’s Weather Bureau office at Imeson Airport.

On May 2, 1964, a Jacksonville WeatherWatcher, Ernie Mynatt who lived by Doctor’s Lake near Orange Park, reported 7 inches of rain and flood waters at Black Creek in Middleburg. After researching the drainage of rain waters in that area, I realized that the rain that fell near Cecil Field and western Duval County flowed southward to the north fork of Black Creek.

The fact that our recent rain event occurred in May is extremely rare, but the reason it occurred was because of the combination of an insignificant low pressure trough with one or two barely detectable spin centers moving across the Gulf of Mexico was finally blocked by an eastern seaboard nor’easter. This made the low pressure settle over the Florida peninsula and drop three days of rain to onto our area before a sluggish frontal low moved from Mississippi into Tennessee to the Delmarva on the east coast.



  1. 1 Carey May 9, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Water is high in the Georgia S.E. Swamp area.

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