NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County officials believe Hurricane Dorian could dump up to 10 more inches of rain onto a county already saturated above normal levels.
Emergency Management Director Andrew Fossa briefed the County Commission during a special meeting Thursday. In response, the commission declared a local state of emergency in Pasco.
Fossa reported over the county has received 10 to 15 inches of rain over the last 30 days, with some isolated areas getting 20 inches or more. The northwestern corner of the county, around Aripeka, has received 15 to 20 inches, according to the county.
That total rainfall is 8 inches above normal for this time of year.
“We are to the point we are third in saturation” within the state, Fossa said. “We cannot take on any more water.”
The report also stated pump operations have been ongoing since Aug. 14 and at least 44 ground depressions have opened up countywide because of the recent period of heavy rainfall activity.
“Right now, the path [of Dorian] is showing it will make a direct hit over Pasco County,” Fossa said. “We thought when it comes, it would die down and become a tropical storm. Currently, it is forecast to be at least a Category 1 storm when it passes over the county.”
Category 1 is the lowest on the five-level Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale.
Fossa said should the storm take a path north of Pasco County and as a result “the rainfall chances would decrease at least a little bit.”
“If it passes south of us, the rainfall chances are going to go up significantly,” he said.
Fossa added that once the storm leaves the county, the worries then will focus on the potential storm surges that could be left in its wake.
“Any way you look at it, we’re going to get a lot of rain dumped on us again,” he said. “We are going to get that rain. The rivers are going to rise on us, and it’s going to be a fast-rise this time – not a slow-rise like the last time.
Fossa said the Anclote, Cypress and Withlacoochee rivers have already reached the action stage, meaning water surface is generally near or slightly above the tops of their banks.
County Administrator Dan Biles said, “Public Works is prepared and a lot of pumps are in place.”
Biles also said as of Thursday morning there were no thoughts of having to evacuate any specific areas.
“We might have to open a place for special needs and seniors, but that is as far as we have gotten,” he said.
Biles said the county would be transmitting any significant information concerning the storm on the My Pasco app and the county Facebook page.