A Tornado watch has been issued for parts of the Nature Coast, North Florida and the First Coast until midnight, 12:00 am EDT Friday. The watch includes the cities of Perry, Lake City, Cross City, Gainesville, Palatka, Jacksonville, and Saint Augustine.
As of Thursday evening, a strong line of thunderstorms was tracking east across Florida’s Big Bend region and through the city of Tallahassee, producing multiple confirmed tornadoes and wind damage reports. The storms were moving generally east between 45 and 55 mph toward the Suwannee River Valley.
The tornado risk will be greatest near Live Oak and Lake City between 9 and 10 pm Thursday evening, then near Jacksonville, Stark and Gainesville between 10 pm and midnight. The storms are then expected to weaken some, but still potentially strong in spots, as they approach Levy, Marion and Putnam counties between 12 and 2 am.
Strong upper-level winds and low-level instability are likely to support the continuation of a damaging wind gusts and tornado risk along segments of the line through at least midnight in the advised area.
Even thought the current episode of storms are likely to diminish some overnight, a new round is anticipated by daybreak near the Nature Coast. This activity is then forecast to strengthen and become more widespread during the morning and midday hours Friday across most of north-central Florida. Wind damage and an isolated tornado are also possible with this activity through early afternoon as it drifts toward the I-4 corridor.
Forecasters and emergency operation officials recommend residents have multiple ways of receiving warnings, including via cell phone, radio, and television. Residents should be prepared to seek shelter in the lowest level of their home, in an interior room, and away from windows. Updates from the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network will be available on the Florida Storms mobile app and social media accounts.