Despite flood advisories and the threat of torrential downpours all day Friday, Palm Beach County finally saw more of the sun than rain for the first time in three days.
After Thursday’s deluge that brought more than 11 inches of rain in some parts of the county, the area was spared heavy rainfall, but still was hit with early evening storms, much to the dismay of SunFest goers, who had to suffer through a third straight day of wet weather.
Palm Beach International Airport recorded .03 inches of rainfall Friday. On Thursday, the airport set a new daily rainfall record, beating the 1931 record of 1.33 with a total of 2.41 inches.
The sun is expected to shine again today with only a slight chance of showers between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. and a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2 p.m. Sunday’s forecast is sunny skies with a high near 81 degrees.
Missing Friday was an “unusual mesoscale convective vortex,” which can be blamed for Thursday’s downpours, according to Susan Sylvester, the South Florida Water Management District’s chief of the water control operations bureau. The vortex pulls local winds into a circular pattern while rains fall in masses. The vortex has since moved offshore.
The rain that did fall Friday was part of an upper-level trough that normally occurs during dry periods, which could hint there will be an early start to this year’s wet season.
Officials at the district said Friday that flooding in Delray Beach and Lake Worth is unavoidable when these storms form. But the larger system has succeeded in draining the urban flooding as it is designed to do.
“The canals are responding very well. We did get reports of ponding in streets and swales … that’s a result of intense rain,” Sylvester said. Those intense rains are hard to predict and take time for the smaller canals to manage, she added.
The rain that fell in staggering amounts — more than half a foot in coastal Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Jupiter — has helped alleviate what had been an unusually dry “dry season,” Sylvester said.
Rainfall from November 2 to May 2 — the dry season — is at 60 percent to 90 percent of what is considered typical, according to SFWMD data.
The deluge of water, however, is not helpful to nesting wildlife, Sylvester noted.
West Palm Beach crews were out working to clean up the Great Lawn for SunFest.
In Boca Raton, Wina and Dave Burns were tending to their patio furniture shop at 3150 N. Federal Highway.
The couple moved from the Baltimore area three years ago and knew of Florida’s hurricanes but was taken by surprise when heavy rain and win swept through.
“The rain was going like crazy,” Wina said. “We saw it (the sign) just take off. I was going to the door and my husband said, ‘Back off! It’s a tornado!’ I honestly thought it was ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ ”
Staff writer Eliot Kleinberg contributed to this story.