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Thunderstorms capable of producing wind damage, hail, or even a tornado are possible across the Florida Panhandle Wednesday night, then most of north and central Florida Thursday.

Thunderstorms were off to an early start Wednesday, but confined primarily to areas near and north of the Alabama and Georgia borders.

The morning activity was lining up along a nearly stationary front that stretched from South Texas to the South Georgia. An area of low pressure is expected to intensify along this boundary Wednesday night and move across the Gulf Coast states and into the Mid-Atlantic region Thursday. The greatest risk of severe thunderstorms will arrive just ahead of an approaching front associated with this system.

A Tornado Watch was issued for portions of the Florida Panhandle west of Tallahassee until 6 pm Wednesday, where a few strong cells could develop in advance of the main front arriving later tonight.

A more organized cluster of thunderstorms is likely to develop Wednesday evening across southern Mississippi and Alabama, then spread east into the Florida Panhandle overnight. The storms are forecast to move into (or redevelop across) the northern and central sections of the Floridan peninsula Thursday.

Rainfall amounts

The latest blend of computer model simulations are forecasting anywhere from an inch rain in the Jacksonville area to 2 to nearly 3 inches from Tallahassee westward through the Panhandle. These amounts reflect area-wide averages, but thunderstorms are almost sure to contribute heavier amounts in some areas. A “worst case” situation – rendered by an ensemble of computer models that create many possible scenarios to meteorologists — are indicating the potential for up to about 5 inches of rain in these areas. This scenario can become more probable where thunderstorms “train” or move over the same areas.

Flood potential

A Flash Flood Watch continues through Thursday morning for western sections of the Florida Panhandle.

Rainfall totals over the past 30 days in the Florida Panhandle have been running slightly below average for areas south of Interstate 10. However, areas along and north of I-10 have had more rain than usual and may be more susceptible to flash flooding. There is also a chance the Escambia River, which was experiencing minor flooding near Century for a time in February, could return to minor flood stage again if heavy rain falls in its watershed.

Multiple rounds of thunderstorms, each capable of producing heavy rain in a short amount of time, could cause flash flooding in portions of the Florida Panhandle by midweek. A few thunderstorms may also be strong enough to produce hail, damaging winds, and isolated tornadoes Wednesday and Thursday.

The setup

A cold front is expected to become better organized as it moves through the Tennessee Valley Tuesday, then stall across the Florida Panhandle Wednesday morning. Disturbances high in the atmosphere will travel along the front, producing several clusters of thunderstorms in an increasingly warm, humid, and unstable air mass near the Gulf of Mexico. The unsettled weather is likely to continue through Thursday, before the front weakens and moves across the Florida Peninsula Friday.

The timing

A few showers could develop as early as Tuesday afternoon across the Florida Panhandle, but the heavier and more widespread activity is likely to hold off until late Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. Additional rounds of thunderstorm activity are then expected Wednesday afternoon and night, before most of it moves a bit farther east into sections of Northeast Florida Thursday.

The severe potential

A few of the thunderstorms may produce hail, damaging gusts, or tornadoes, especially Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning near and west of Tallahassee. However, there is still some question as to how far inland the most unstable air from the Gulf of Mexico will move. If the heavy rain from Tuesday night and Wednesday morning cools the air mass too much, the chance of tornadoes and damaging winds would be lower Wednesday and Wednesday night. Conversely, if enough humidity and warm air from the Gulf is able to return north, the risk of stronger thunderstorm activity would be greater.

Rainfall amounts

The latest blend of computer model simulations are forecasting anywhere from 1.5 inches of rain in the Tallahassee area to nearly 3 inches near Crestview, Pensacola, and Destin. These amounts reflect area-wide averages, but thunderstorms are almost sure to contribute heavier amounts in some areas. A “worst case” situation – rendered by an ensemble of computer models that create many possible scenarios to meteorologists — are indicating the potential for up to about 5 inches of rain in these areas. This scenario can become more probable where thunderstorms “train” or move over the same areas.

Flood potential

Rainfall totals over the past 30 days in the Florida Panhandle have been running slightly below average for areas south of Interstate 10. However, areas along and north of I-10 have had more rain than usual and may be more susceptible to flash flooding. There is also a chance the Escambia River, which was experiencing minor flooding near Century for a time in February, could return to minor flood stage again if heavy rain falls in its watershed.

Strong thunderstorms or widespread amounts of heavy rain are not expected across central and south Florida from this storm system at this time.

A Tornado Watch has been issued for all of north and northeast Florida until midnight. The watch includes the cities of Jacksonville, Gainesville, Ocala, and the Nature Coast.

As of 7 pm ET, radar data indicated a squall line of thunderstorms capable of producing damaging straight-line winds or a tornado was moving through Florida’s Big Bend. Several accounts of wind damage have been reported from this line in and around the Tallahassee area and points farther west.

The squall line is expected to maintain its strength, or even intensify some as it moves farther east, thanks to strong winds aloft and an unstable mass developing ahead of it. The Storm Prediction Center says there is a enhanced risk of damaging winds up to 70 mph and a few tornadoes with the line.

The most likely arrival times of the squall line in the watch area are listed below. Keep in mind that the greatest wind damage potential is usually a few miles ahead of the reflectivity you may see on radar.

In addition to the wind damage potential, rainfall totals between 1 and 2 inches may cause brief periods of localized flooding where some of the strongest cells track. The heaviest rain is expected to exit the Florida Panhandle by midnight, with clearing skies and cooler conditions expected on Friday.

A Tornado Watch is in effect until 8 PM ET (7 PM CT) for much of the Big Bend and parts of the Florida Panhandle. The watch includes Tallahassee, Panama City, Marianna, Apalachicola, and Lake City.

A line of strong thunderstorms was noted to be getting better organized in the Florida Panhandle early Thursday afternoon, and it was beginning to approach Panama City just before 1 pm.

The squall line is expected to intensify as it moves east through the watch area, thanks to strong winds throughout all layers of the atmosphere and an unstable mass is developing ahead of it. The Storm Prediction Center says there is a enhanced risk of damaging winds up to 75 mph and a few tornadoes with the line.

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The most likely arrival times of the squall line in the advised area are listed below. Keep in mind that the greatest wind damage potential is usually a few miles ahead of the reflectivity you may see on radar.

In addition to the wind damage potential, rainfall totals between 1 and 2.5 inches may cause pockets of flash flooding where some of the strongest cells track. The heaviest rain is expected to exit the Florida Panhandle by midnight, with clearing skies and cooler conditions expected on Friday.

Multiple weather-related hazards are possible over a large portion of the Sunshine State Wednesday night through Friday morning.

A strong storm system is expected to develop across the Southern Plains Tuesday, then spread into the Mid-South Wednesday, before slowing down as it sweeps across Florida Thursday and Friday.

First Round Wednesday Evening

An increasingly warm and humid air mass will surge northward across the Florida Panhandle first on Wednesday evening. Showers and thunderstorms are likely to form along a warm front between 3 pm and midnight near Pensacola, Fort Walton, Panama City, and Marianna. It is possible a few of these storms will produce damaging wind gusts and an isolated tornado or two.

In addition to the risk of wind damage or tornadoes, heavy rainfall is also expected in the western sections of the Florida Panhandle from the multiple rounds of thunderstorms. Forecasters at NOAA's Weather Prediction Center are projecting 2 to 5 inches of rain Wednesday night and Thursday, which may lead to pockets of flash flooding over the 24-hour period.

The Main Event Thursday

A new line of thunderstorms is likely to organize along and ahead of an approaching cold front in the Florida Panhandle around daybreak Thursday. Heating of the day and very strong winds through the atmosphere will foster an environment that is favorable for a gradually strengthening squall line as the front moves through a larger portion of North and Central Florida during the afternoon and nighttime hours.

Arrival times of the squall line

Our best estimate of time of arrival of the squall line is as follows:

The Storm Prediction Center has issued a "slight risk" (level 2 out of a possible 5) for severe thunderstorms from the Orlando and Sarasota areas north and westward. A "marginal risk" (level 1) is in effect on a line from Fort Myers to the Space Coast area, as the line may weaken somewhat early Friday morning. The forecaster’s primary concern is for damaging wind gusts and a few brief tornadoes with the line.

The line of thunderstorms is expected to exit the state later Friday morning. A more tranquil weather regime is forecast to follow the strong front in time for the weekend.

A two-day outbreak of severe thunderstorms is possible across the Florida Panhandle and much of north and central Florida this week. This is an earlier-than-normal notice on the potential for a significant episode of strong storms.

Wind damage and tornadoes will be the primary hazards, although heavy rainfall and flash flooding will also be possible from a strong cold front that will move across the Southeast Wednesday and Thursday.

An area of low pressure was observed moving across Intermountain West Sunday, while at the same time a potent area of energy was approaching the Pacific Northwest. Forecasters at the National Weather Service expect these two features to morph into a powerful storm system over the Central Plains by Tuesday. A strong cold front associated with the storm is then expected to approach the Florida Panhandle Wednesday, and move farther east toward the Florida Peninsula Thursday and early Friday.

Forecasters at the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center began advising on the potential multi-day severe weather event on Friday.

Ample moisture moving in from the Gulf of Mexico, combined with strong upper-level winds approaching from the west, will create an atmospheric environment favorable for multiple days of unsettled weather. Damaging straight-line winds and tornadoes will both be possible in the stronger storms. In addition, excessive rainfall rates could produce areas of flash flooding, thanks to a deep connection to the subtropics yielding higher-than-normal levels of moisture.

Details on the timing and severity of the risk will likely change in the days ahead, and meteorologist from Florida Public Radio Emergency Network will provide frequent updates on this site, in the Florida Storms mobile app, and on social media.

A strong storm system moving in from the Gulf of Mexico is expected to send clusters of strong thunderstorms across portions of South Florida Sunday evening. Some of the storms could produce damaging wind gusts, or even a tornado.

This is the same storm system forecast to produce pockets of heavy rain across the entire Sunshine State through Monday, which could lead to localized flooding.

Forecasters at the Storm Prediction Center updated their prior forecast to a “slight risk” (level 2 out of 5) for areas south of a line from Fort Myers to Fort Pierce, primarily for the time period of Sunday evening and overnight. This is when the atmosphere is expected to become more moist and unstable.

Latest forecast guidance suggests a large cluster of thunderstorms will organize near and just north of the Florida Keys Sunday afternoon. The cells are then expected to move across the Everglades in the evening hours and reach the Atlantic Coast overnight. The strongest storms will be capable of rotating and producing a tornado or damaging wind gusts up to 60 mph.

Nighttime tornadoes are extremely dangerous, especially during the winter when they are often wrapped in rain and can occur with little lightning or thunder. We encourage residents of South Florida to stay informed and ensure they have a way of being notified if a warning is issued. Our Florida Storms mobile app is a great resource, and it’s available for free on your mobile phone or tablet.

The storm responsible for more than three dozen tornado reports across Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama on Monday is now moving through the Sunshine State. It is not as robust as it once was, but it still could produce thunderstorms capable of damaging gusts and perhaps a tornado.

A Tornado Watch is in effect until 2 PM for portions of the Big Bend and Panhandle, including Tallahassee and Panama City. A new Tornado Watch has also been issued for areas farther east along I-10 toward Jacksonville until 7 pm.

Isolated tornadoes and damaging gusts from thunderstorms are possible in and near the watch area. The National Weather Service in Tallahassee said radar data confirmed a tornado in Jackson county, near Graceville, shortly after 7 o’clock this morning. It is not immediately clear at the time of this story how extensive the damage was from the tornado.

Thunderstorms were moving into the Tallahassee area midday, with a threat for damaging gusts and isolated tornadoes. The cold front attached to this storm is expected to sweep eastward Tuesday afternoon and evening. Scattered showers and thunderstorms could develop earlier in the afternoon, well ahead of the front, but the more widespread activity is expected to accompany the front. Here are the estimated times of arrival for the main line of thunderstorms:

As the front moves across the southern half of the peninsula, upper-level winds are forecast to weaken somewhat, reducing the number of wind damage reports. Residents should still be aware that gusty winds are possible with the strongest thunderstorms as they move through. The high moisture in place will also result in downpours with the showers and thunderstorms.

Scattered thunderstorms are possible before the times listed above. The main line of thunderstorms is forecast to weaken considerably as it reaches Naples, West Palm Beach, and Miami, but scattered thunderstorms are possible in those areas between 3 AM and 10 AM on Wednesday.

Much colder air is expected to flow in behind the front on Wednesday and Thursday. There is a chance of a light freeze in North Florida and the Florida Panhandle, especially closer to the Interstate 10 corridor early on Thursday morning.

The National Weather Service has issued a Tornado Watch until 2 PM for much of the Florida Big Bend and portions of the Panhandle. The Tornado Watch includes Tallahassee, Panama City, Marianna, and Apalachicola.

The larger storm system produced more than 3 dozen tornado reports over Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana on Monday. Its associated cold front is moving into an environment that is not quite as favorable for tornadoes today, but there is enough wind shear and unstable air for a few tornadoes in and near the tornado watch area this morning into early afternoon. Damaging wind gusts may accompany the thunderstorms, as well.

Storms were approaching the Panama City and Marianna areas as of mid-morning, and will reach the Apalachicola and Tallahassee areas around midday. At least one tornado warning has been issued in the Florida Panhandle northwest of Marianna, where radar data strongly suggested there was a touchdown in Jackson County.

The storms are expected to leave the Big Bend area during the mid and late afternoon. Much colder weather is forecast behind the front tonight and Wednesday, and a light freeze is possible early Thursday morning.

Forecasters at the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center have also placed much of north and central Florida under a "marginal" (level 1 of 5) risk for severe weather later Tuesday afternoon and evening. Current forecast data suggests minor wind damage or a brief tornado may occur in these areas with the strongest cells.

A strong storm system is expected to bring tornadoes, hail, and damaging winds to portions of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama Monday afternoon. It could then trigger a few strong storms capable of producing damaging wind gusts in the Florida Panhandle late Monday night or early Tuesday morning.

The factors that are forecast to come together to produce the tornado risk over portions of the Deep South will not be as well aligned for the thunderstorms that move into the Florida Panhandle after early Tuesday morning. However, unstable air streaming northward from the Gulf of Mexico and strong winds aloft have prompted the Storm Prediction Center to place areas west of the Apalachicola River under a “slight” (level 2 of 5) risk for severe weather. In their early morning outlook, forecasters say there is the potential for scattered damaging winds and an isolated tornado, despite the slightly less favorable conditions than farther west.

High-resolution computer models show the thunderstorms reaching the Pensacola region between 10 pm and 6 am. They will then spread east into areas from Panama City to Marianna between 2 am and 8 am, followed by the Tallahassee area around or shortly after sunrise Tuesday. Occasional storms may not clear the capital city region until mid-afternoon. Gusty winds, downpours, and lightning are possible with these storms, but the risk of damaging thunderstorms is considerably lower over the central and eastern regions of Florida’s Big Bend.

Much colder air will flow in behind the cold front Tuesday night and Wednesday. A light freeze is even possible over much of the Florida Panhandle, Big Bend, and North Florida by Thursday morning. The greatest chance of freezing temperatures is away from the immediate Gulf coast and closer to Interstate 10, areas that have already experienced a freeze this season.

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PO Box 118400

Gainesville, FL 32611

 

(352) 392-5551

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