With Central Florida under a flood watch, Polk County has seen 10 to 20 inches of rain in the last 30 days — up to four times the average rainfall

LAKELAND — The bruise-colored clouds continued to move in early Tuesday, maintaining an unusual weather pattern for Central Florida in the summertime and creating a flood watch for the region.

The flood watch issued by the National Weather Service for Polk County runs through 11 a.m. Friday.

“Basically, we're just stuck in a persistent pattern,” said Tony Hurt, a NWS meteorologist based in Ruskin. “We have westerly flow coming in off the Gulf of Mexico and it is bringing in a continuous supply of moisture.”

Hurt said the pattern isn't unheard of, but its determination to overstay its welcome is.

“It typically only lasts for a few days,” Hurt said. “As early as last year it happened, but it only lasted a few days. For it to persist for multiple weeks is rare."

Afternoon showers are the norm this time of year, with morning east coast and west coast thunderstorms meeting over Central Florida later in the day.

He wouldn't call it an El Niño — a weather pattern associated with heavy summer rains — but creeks, rivers and ponds are all spilling over their banks at this point, with a flood watch in place through Friday. Hurt said that, in the last 30 days, Polk County has seen 10 to 20 inches of rain — at least twice the normal average rainfall and up to four times the normal average in some areas.

“We've had a surplus of rain, especially over the last week or so, in just about the entire peninsula of Florida,” Hurt said.

So, will we get any relief?

“The short answer — for the next few days — no,” Hurt said. “There is a chance we could see a pattern change early next week.”

Kimberly C. Moore can be reached at kmoore@theledger.com or 863-802-7514. Follow her on Twitter at @KMooreTheLedger.