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.
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.