PENSACOLA, Fla. — Life-threatening flash flooding swept across swaths of Pensacola, Florida early Friday morning as deadly severe thunderstorms dumped several inches of rain and brought a possible tornado, leaving one person dead and parts of the region buried under feet of water.
Flash Flood Emergencies covered over 100,000 people, stretching from Pensacola through Warrington and Myrtle Grove as spotter reports to the National Weather Service indicated flooded roads and homes with waters still rising in some areas.
"Life-threatening flooding ongoing in Warrington, Downtown and West Pensacola with likely well over 1 foot of rainfall falling," The National Weather Service in Mobile warned. "Flash flooding is also likely occurring across most of the metro Pensacola area."
The NWS estimates some areas have received 8-15 inches of rain over just several hours, with more rain likely to fall through the morning. A rain gauge in Gulf Breeze reported 14.08 inches in 6 hours while Pensacola airport reported 9.23 inches of rain in a 5-hour period.
"Extremely busy night for us," said Deputy Fire Chief Paul Williams with Escambia County Fire. "There's been numerous water rescues, flooding condition calls, rescuing folks from their houses or their cars when they're driving through some intersections that are submerged with water."
One found dead after tree falls into Florida home
Emergency officials are reporting multiple water rescues across the Escambia County, including evacuating 143 residents from a flooded apartment building.
"It's submerged to the point where it's almost over the top of vehicles in the back there," Williams said about the building's backyard, which sits along a creek. "So it's about chest deep water in the very back of the complex."
In addition to the heavy rains, the storms brought ferocious winds amid a possible tornado that downed trees and power lines and left a trail of other damage. Williams reports one person died when a tree fell into a home.
"We've got numerous reports of limbs down, power lines down, possible tornado touched down," Williams said. "So there may very well be some debris over in that area to please be careful as you get out. There still be some standing water in some areas."
About 8,000 people are without power in the area.
The Flash Flood Emergency expired just after 6:30 a.m. CT but more rain was expected later in the day.