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A Tornado Watch has been issued by the National Weather Service for Pensacola and surrounding areas until 4 pm.

Thunderstorms capable of producing damaging wind gusts up to 60 mph and a brief tornado are possible in the advised area, especially between the hours of 1 and 4 pm CST.

The powerful storm system that has prompted the Tornado Watch has already led to more than 200 reports of wind damage, and at least five tornadoes across the Southern Plains, Ozarks and Mid-South.

Latest forecast data continues to suggest the line of storms responsible for the damage might threaten portions of the Florida Panhandle Saturday afternoon and evening.

A few isolated thunderstorms could develop ahead of the main activity as early as 1 or 2 pm CST. These cells would pose the greatest risk of a brief tornado. The damaging wind risk is greatest when the squall line approaches, which is outlined with updated arrival times below.

The front is then expected to weaken overnight and the severe weather risk will diminish, leaving the rest of Florida largely unaffected on Sunday.

Forecast data continues to suggest a line of destructive thunderstorms will move through portions of the Florida Panhandle Saturday. Confidence is also increasing on when the strongest cells will arrive, which we’ve listed below...

Pensacola: 11 am to 3 pm
Panama City: 2 to 6 pm
Tallahassee: 7 to 11 pm

There are two primary hazards posed by this storm system. First, thunderstorms that develop ahead of the squall line could rotate and produce a tornado. Second, damaging wind gusts in excess of 60 mph are possible along and directly ahead of the leading edge of the squall line.

These hazards will be most likely in the Panhandle. By the time the front arrives to the Big Bend and Northern Florida early Sunday morning, it is expected to have weakened significantly, or dissipate entirely.

A line of strong thunderstorms capable of producing destructive winds or a tornado is expected to move through the Florida Panhandle Saturday.

In addition, a brief period of torrential rain and localized flooding will also be possible from the powerful storm system as it moves through.

Forecasters at the Storm Prediction Center in Normal, Oklahoma have highlighted the western half of the Florida Panhandle as having an “enhanced risk” of severe storms Saturday, which is a level three out of five on their scale. In her forecast notes issued early Thursday, Meteorologist Elizabeth Leitman said the primary hazard would be wind damage, but that tornadoes could not be ruled out. She communicated uncertainty in to how “pristine” the atmosphere would be ahead of the front for this to occur, and labeled the tornado threat as more “conditional”.

The weather map across the Southern Plains was rather quiet Thursday, although the ingredients were beginning to come together for a major storm. Meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Tallahassee were beginning to identify the features on water vapor imagery Thursday.

Surface and upper air observations indicated a large pocket of lower pressure and colder air was rotating through the Intermountain West toward Texas. At the same time, southerly winds were sending unseasonably warm and humid air as far north as the lower Ohio River Valley. When the pocket of colder air aloft attempts to replace the increasingly moist and unstable air mass on Friday, a large of upward motion and lowering pressure is forecast to rapidly develop.

Most likely arrival times
  • Penascola: 11 am to 4 pm CT
  • Panama City: 1 pm to 7 pm CT
  • Tallahassee: 3 pm to 10 pm ET
  • Lake City: After 5 pm ET

Atmospheric dynamics along a cold front associated with this system are likely to trigger numerous clusters of thunderstorms Friday afternoon across eastern Texas and Oklahoma. The storms are then expected to quickly organize into a squall line that races east through Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama Friday night. The leading edge of these cells will pose the greatest risk of significant wind damage or tornadoes when they arrive on Saturday.

A few thunderstorms are possible in the western sections of the Florida Panhandle as early as midday. If these were to develop, they would have the potential to quickly produce a tornado as they race northward on the heels of strong southerly winds. The main squall line, which represents the more widespread and significant risk of severe weather, is then likely to approach Pensacola by early afternoon, Panama City later in the afternoon, and Tallahassee by early evening.

The cold front is expected to weaken and slow down over sections of Northeast Florida Saturday night and early Sunday. The risk of severe weather in these areas is remarkably lower than for areas farther west, although a few stronger storms near cities like Lake City or Jacksonville can’t entirely be ruled out. There is no official risk areas highlighted by the Storm Prediction Center beyond Saturday at this time.

Counties: Seminole County in east central Florida, Northwestern Orange County in east central Florida,

Cities: Orlando, Sanford, Apopka, Altamonte Springs and Ocoee Florida

Potential impacts: Expect damage to roofs, siding, and trees.

Suggested action(s): For your protection move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a building. Torrential rainfall is occurring with this storm, and may lead to flash flooding. Do not drive your vehicle through flooded roadways.

Summary: At 347 PM EST, a severe thunderstorm was located over Altamonte Springs, moving northeast at 25 mph.


This alert expires December 17, 2019 at 4:30 PM EST

Counties: West central Seminole County in east central Florida, Central Lake County in east central Florida, Northwestern Orange County in east central Florida,

Cities: Lake Apopka, Apopka, Altamonte Springs, Ocoee and Winter Garden Florida

Potential impacts: Hail damage to vehicles is expected. Expect wind damage to roofs, siding, and trees.

Suggested action(s): For your protection move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a building. If on or near Lake Apopka, get away from the water and move indoors or inside a vehicle. Remember, lightning can strike out to 15 miles from the parent thunderstorm. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning. Move to safe shelter now! Do not be caught on the water in a thunderstorm.

Summary: At 256 PM EST, a severe thunderstorm was located near Ferndale, moving northeast at 35 mph.


This alert expires December 17, 2019 at 3:30 PM EST

Counties: Gulf County in the Panhandle of Florida, Southeastern Bay County in the Panhandle of Florida, Calhoun County in the Panhandle of Florida, Southern Liberty County in Big Bend of Florida,

Cities: Panama City, Lynn Haven, Callaway, Blountstown, Port St Joe, Springfield, Mexico Beach, Hiland Park, Stonemill Creek, Tyndall Air Force Base, Orange, Parker, Wewahitchka, Bristol, Honeyville, Jewel Fire Tower, Clarksville, Abe Springs, Allanton and Vilas Florida

Potential impacts: Expect damage to roofs, siding, and trees.

Suggested action(s): A Tornado Watch remains in effect until 200 PM EST/100 PM CST/ for Big Bend of and the Panhandle of Florida. For your protection move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a building.

Summary: At 1115 AM EST/1015 AM CST/, a severe thunderstorm was located 12 miles west of Tyndall Air Force Base, or 12 miles southwest of Panama City, moving east at 45 mph.


This alert expires December 17, 2019 at 12:15 PM EST

Counties: Southeastern Jackson County in the Panhandle of Florida, Northeastern Calhoun County in the Panhandle of Florida, Gadsden County in Big Bend of Florida, North central Liberty County in Big Bend of Florida, Southern Decatur County in southwestern Georgia,

Cities: Quincy, Havana, Bainbridge, Greensboro, Chattahoochee, Gretna, Attapulgus, Freemont, Rock Bluff, Littman, Juniper, Douglas City, Florence, Rosedale, Jamieson, Recovery, Laingkat, Santa Clara, Shady Rest and Jinks Florida

Potential impacts: Expect damage to roofs, siding, and trees.

Suggested action(s): A Tornado Watch remains in effect until 200 PM EST/100 PM CST/ for Big Bend of and the Panhandle of Florida...and southwestern Georgia. For your protection move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a building.

Summary: At 1028 AM EST/928 AM CST/, a severe thunderstorm was located 7 miles west of Greensboro, or 14 miles northeast of Blountstown, moving northeast at 55 mph.


This alert expires December 17, 2019 at 11:15 AM EST

Counties: Southeastern Jackson County in the Panhandle of Florida, East central Bay County in the Panhandle of Florida, Central Calhoun County in the Panhandle of Florida, Northwestern Liberty County in Big Bend of Florida,

Cities: Blountstown, Bristol, Altha, Rock Bluff, Clarksville, Red Oak, Ocheesee, Selman, Chason, Chipola, Henderson Mill, Kennys Mill, Willis, Nettle Ridge, Frink, Alliance, Blountstown Airport, Macedonia, Torreya State Park and Durham Florida

Potential impacts: Expect damage to roofs, siding, and trees.

Suggested action(s): A Tornado Watch remains in effect until 200 PM EST/100 PM CST/ for Big Bend of and the Panhandle of Florida. For your protection move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a building.

Summary: At 958 AM EST/858 AM CST/, a severe thunderstorm was located 17 miles west of Blountstown, moving northeast at 55 mph.


This alert expires December 17, 2019 at 10:45 AM EST

A fast-moving front will approach the Florida Panhandle Monday night, likely triggering a cluster of potentially severe thunderstorms ahead of it. The strongest cells may produce damaging winds and perhaps an isolated tornado.

Thunderstorms were ongoing across the Mid-South along the approaching the front Monday morning. The National Weather Service received more than 230 reports of large hail and high winds from the storms Sunday night in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, and nearby states. At least three tornadoes, including what appeared to be a strong tornado in the Dallas, TX, also were reported Sunday evening.

This line of storms is tied to a cold front moving through the lower Mississippi River Valley. An increasingly moist and unstable air mass ahead of it will spread over the Florida Panhandle this evening. Strong winds through a deep layer of the atmosphere will create an environment that is favorable for strong thunderstorms, especially after sunset. The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK has issued a “slight risk” for severe thunderstorms. Forecasters say scattered thunderstorms should pose a risk of damaging gusts along with a few tornadoes.

High-resolution computer models are forecasting the greatest chance of strong thunderstorms in the Pensacola, Fort Walton, Destin, and Crestview areas some time between 7 pm and 11 pm Central Time. It is possible a few isolated storms with damaging winds and tornadoes could develop along the immediate Gulf coast, west of Panama City, prior to 7 pm CT.

A broken line of showers and thunderstorms are expected to move east, reaching the Florida Big Bend and the Tallahassee areas around or just after midnight Tuesday morning, but it is not clear whether the storms will be as strong when they arrive. There is a “marginal risk” for a spotty wind damage report or brief tornado overnight into early Tuesday morning as far east as Jacksonville, Lake City, and Gainesville. At this time, it is most likely the storms will be weaker in these areas.

Additional thunderstorms are likely to develop along the cold front Tuesday morning in the Big Bend and move to North-Central and Northeast Florida during the afternoon. Gusty winds are possible with the storms, but the environment is not expected to be as favorable for damaging thunderstorms as it will be on Monday evening in the Panhandle. Scattered showers and storms are expected over central and south Florida Tuesday night into Wednesday as the front approaches and stalls there.

Much cooler and drier weather will follow the cold front, mainly north of I-4, on Wednesday.

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(352) 392-5551

UF Media Properties

1885 Stadium Road

PO Box 118400

Gainesville, FL 32611

 

(352) 392-5551

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