Heavy Rain Swamps Florida; 2 Teens Missing Near Jupiter

Rainwater floods a street in St. Petersburg, Fla. (wtsp/instagram)

(SOURCE)  Heavy rain drenched cities along Florida’s Gulf Coast Friday, and authorities continued to search for two teens missing in heavy seas along the state’s Atlantic coast.

Flooding in New Port Richey, Fla. on July 24, 2015. (Ivory Terr/WTSP)

The Coast Guard said it was looking for two 14-year-old boys after a boat was reported missing near Jupiter. They were last seen Friday afternoon when they were purchasing gas for the 19-foot watercraft and were believed to be heading for the Bahamas on a fishing trip. The Coast Guard said it launched boat crews, as well as a search helicopter and airplane, to look for the two boys overnight Friday.

Seas are rough off Florida’s Atlantic coast due to a storm system that also dumped more than 8 inches of rain in parts of Pasco County through Friday night, according to the National Weather Service. The heavy rainfall resulted in flooding along the U.S. 19 corridor from New Port Richey to Tarpon Springs.

In Tarpon Springs, a public works yard was under water and vehicles were stuck in 2 feet of water on MLK Jr. Drive west of U.S. 19.

WTSP-TV in Tampa showed photos of flooded yards, roads and parking lots in communities including New Port Richey and Zephyrhills.

Pasco County resident Dee Barclay told Bay News 9, “It had been raining a long time. I said better check the street. I came out and it was just on this side of my mailbox and within an hour it was halfway up my driveway and then within another hour it was up to the top, almost to my house.”

Floodwaters inundated mailboxes and cars in Holiday, Florida, Friday night, WTVT-TV reported. Authorities established four sandbag centers in Pasco County to help with flood preparations.

Flooding was also reported on the east coast of Florida in St. Augustine Friday evening. Several cars were stranded and water was up to the doors of cars on side roads in the area, according to a National Weather Service report. In less than one hour, 2.70 inches of rain was measured.

“This is only an opening chapter to a multi-day Florida heavy rain and flash flood saga that will continue into next week,” said weather.com meteorologist Jon Erdman. “You can thank a stalled frontal boundary and plenty of Florida warmth, humidity, and instability for kicking off these thunderstorm clusters.”

The predicted rainfall would allow parts of central Florida that have seen below-average rainfall for the year to catch up.

“Some thunderstorms will also fall over drought-stricken southeast Florida,” Erdman said, which is good news for the Miami area in particular, which is facing a 12-inch deficit for the year.