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Tornado Watch Extends East into the Florida Peninsula

Tornado Watch extends east
National Weather Service
Tornado Watch extends east

Update Monday February 15, 2021; 3:16PM EDT:

The Tornado Watch area has spread east from the Florida Panhandle to include northern parts of the Florida Peninsula.

Strong showers and thunderstorms ahead of a powerful cold front were continuing to track through western and central portions of the Florida Panhandle Monday afternoon producing strong winds, heavy rainfall, and a few tornado warnings.

This line is expected to move into parts of Tallahassee and the Big Bend early in the evening before continuing east into north central Florida late Monday night. A few storms could still reach severe levels through the overnight.

Update Monday February 15, 2021; 1:00PM EDT:

A Tornado Watch has been issued for most of the Florida Panhandle including major cities from Pensacola through Tallahassee until 6PM CDT (7PM EDT).

Strong thunderstorms ahead of a deepening low pressure and its respected cold front will continue to track eastward through Monday evening. Atmospheric conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes and damaging straight-line winds. A few tornadoes could be strong and develop quickly with little warning. Residents are advised to have multiple ways of receiving weather alerts.

Update Monday February 15, 2021; 12:45PM EDT: The chance for strong to severe thunderstorms has been elevated ahead of a deepening low pressure system. A powerful cold front extending from the low pressure is anticipated to move through parts of the Florida Panhandle Monday afternoon and approach the northern Peninsula towards the late afternoon and evening.

The Storm Prediction Center Monday has increased the severe weather risk level for parts of the Florida Panhandle from Slight (risk level 2 out of 5) to Enhanced (risk level 3 out of 5). This Enhanced Risk includes the cities of Tallahassee and Panama City.

Scattered showers and thunderstorms were quickly developing Monday morning as a surface low pressure system lifted into the Deep South, dragging a strong cold front northeastward.. Additional convection is expected to develop through Monday afternoon ahead of the cold front. Strong upper-level wind shear and moderate instability is forecast across the Florida Panhandle through the afternoon which will aid in fueling the development of storms.

The Storm Prediction Center says that these storms have the potential to produce a strong tornado or two along with scattered damaging winds, a few of which may be significant. Heavy rainfall will also be a concern which could trigger localized flash flooding.

The following are estimated arrival times of showers and thunderstorms for parts of the Florida Panhandle:

  • Pensacola and Destin: 11AM - 4PM CDT
  • Panama City: 3PM - 6PM EDT
  • Tallahassee: 4PM - 7PM EDT

The severe risk is expected to taper off late Monday night as the showers and thunderstorms move eastward into northern parts of the Florida Peninsula. A Slight Risk (hazard level 2 out of 5) remains in place for northern parts of the Peninsula including the cities of Lake City, Jacksonville and Gainesville. A few storms could still produce damaging wind gusts and isolated tornadoes as they approach this region by the evening and through midnight.

Central Florida remains in a Marginal Risk for the threat of isolated strong storms overnight Monday and into Tuesday. Activity should continue to weaken gradually through the night as the cold front sweeps away the remaining storms down towards South Florida Tuesday morning.

Upon the passage of the strong cold front, cool northerly winds will dive in as a high pressure ridge builds over the region. Drier conditions and temperatures slightly below average will return beginning Tuesday.

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Dr. Athena Masson