The Florida Division of Emergency Management on Saturday urged residents and businesses from Tampa to Pensacola to prepare for heavy rainfall and flooding potential through next week.
Emergency management director Bryan W. Koon says the National Weather Service is monitoring a developing weather system along the gulf coast and that the weather service "expects this to be a slow- moving heavy rain event which could last through Thursday," affecting portions of the Big Bend and Panhandle, where 10 to 20 inches were possible.
A flood watch is in effect until Tuesday morning for Citrus, Hernando and Pasco counties.
Between now and next Friday, areas just north of Tampa, including the coast of Pinellas, Pasco and more likely the coast of Hernando and Citrus could see 7 to 12 inches of rain, 10Weather meteorologist Kate Wentzel said.
The highest rainfall totals are expected along and west of I-75, Wentzel said.
The statement says the forecast calls for 10-15 inches of rain in locations from Tampa to Pensacola through the next five days with isolated areas receiving over 18 inches.
Flash flooding could also occur in areas that receive rain amounts in excess of 3 inches in a short period of time.
Pasco County and New Port Richey officials said Saturday they would start offering free sandbags to residents because of expected heavy rainfall over the next week.