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RIVER WATCH: See latest Tampa Bay-area river levels

Several rivers, including the Hillsborough and Manatee rivers, are at flood stage.
Credit: 10 Tampa Bay

TAMPA, Fla. — Hurricane Ian dropped at least a foot of rain across a wide area as it crossed the Florida peninsula Wednesday.

Radar-estimated rainfall totals show Sarasota County was hardest hit with almost 20 inches of rain. The swath of heaviest rain extended northeast into DeSoto, Manatee, Hardee and Polk counties — a general 10-16 inches.

All of this rain in a small area must go somewhere, and that's to area rivers. Flood warnings have been issued for these areas and central Florida, with river reports from the National Weather Service showing many already breaking into major flood stage levels.

Flash flooding brings "life threatening flash flooding of creeks and streams, urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses," the weather service said

The Peace River at Zolfo Springs is crested at 27.24 feet late Thursday — an all-time record — the river began to recede early Friday. Thursday morning, the Manatee River near Myakka Head crested at just under 20 feet — shy of the record — the river has receded to under 15 feet on Friday.

Both are in a major flood stage.

Rivers that appear to be contained will not be in the coming days, so it's important not to let your guard down. The Anclote River near Elfers in Pasco County is expected to crest Saturday at 15.7 feet — flood stage is 20 feet.

Moderate flooding is expected or ongoing on the Hillsborough and Peace rivers. Major flooding is ongoing in Sarasota County affecting the Myakka River with an expected crest of 12.7 feet late Friday night into Saturday morning — an all-time high.

"Turn around, don`t drown when encountering flooded roads. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles," the weather service warns.

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