Hurricane Frances brought heavy rainfall and widespread flooding to southwest-central Florida September 4-14, 2004. The center of Hurricane Frances made landfall on the east coast of Florida on September 5 as a category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, then moved west-northwestward through central Florida before exiting Pasco County into the Gulf of Mexico on September 6 (fig. 1; National Weather Service, 2004). The hurricane moved across the Florida Peninsula generating 5 to 11 inches of rain over already saturated ground (table 1). Record flooding occurred in parts of Hardee, Hillsborough, Pasco, and Polk Counties (fig. 1). The hurricane and resulting floods caused an estimated $4-5 billion in damage to public and private property (Harrington, 2004), and 23 deaths were attributed to Hurricane Frances (National Weather Service, 2004).
Several watersheds drain counties in southwest-central Florida that were affected by Hurricane Frances. De Soto, Hardee, and Polk Counties generally are drained by the Peace River system, which flows southwestward to Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf of Mexico. Hillsborough and Pasco Counties generally are drained by the Alafia, Hillsborough, Anclote, and Pithlachascotee River systems. Water in the Hillsborough and Alafia River watersheds flows west to Tampa Bay and water in the Anclote and Pithlachascotee River watersheds flows west to the Gulf of Mexico. (fig. 1, http://water.usgs.gov/pubs/fs/2005/3028/#fig1).
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Floods in southwest-central Florida from hurricane Frances, September 2004