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Line Of Gusty Thunderstorms Are Likely To Swing Through The Sunshine State Thursday

The powerful storm system that has prompted Tornado Watches over a wide area from east Texas to Alabama Wednesday afternoon and evening is expected to bring the threat of a few strong storms to Florida on Thursday.

The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center -- who is responsible for storm outlooks across the United States -- has assigned their highest rating, a level 5, for much of Mississippi and Alabama into Wednesday night. Most of the Florida Panhandle, from Marianna to Panama City and west to Pensacola, is in a level 2 or 3 risk late Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

 

Severe storms are possible late Wednesday night in the western Panhandle
Severe storms are possible late Wednesday night in the western Panhandle

The Tallahassee area, Nature Coast, North-Central Florida, and the Jacksonville metro area is in a level 2 risk from late Thursday morning through early Thursday evening. A level 1 risk for severe storms is in effect for the Interstate 4 corridor late Thursday afternoon into early Thursday evening. Areas south of a line from Melbourne to Fort Myers are not likely to see severe weather, but a few gusty storms are possible overnight Thursday into Friday morning.

 

Strong to severe storms will spread from the Panhandle Thursday morning into North and Central Florida Thursday afternoon and evening.
Strong to severe storms will spread from the Panhandle Thursday morning into North and Central Florida Thursday afternoon and evening.

Strong wind shear, which is an increase in the wind speed or a change of wind direction as one goes above the ground, is forecast to be favorable for several reports straight-line damaging winds, especially in the level 2 and 3 risk areas. Reports of damaging winds are also possible in the level 1 risk area, but they are expected to be spotty in nature.

Here are the estimated time of arrival over the Sunshine State:

  • Pensacola, Destin, Crestview areas: 2-5 AM CT
  • Panama City, Marianna: 5-8 AM CT
  • Tallahassee, Apalachicola: 9 AM - Noon ET
  • Live Oak, Lake City, Perry: Noon - 3 PM ET
  • Jacksonville metro, Gainesville, Nature Coast: 3-6 PM
  • Tampa/St Pete, Orlando, Daytona Beach: 6-10 PM
  • Melbourne, Treasure Coast, Sarasota, Fort Myers: 10 PM Thursday - 5 AM Friday
  • Gold Coast and Keys: 5-10 AM Friday

The main severe weather concern is likely to be strong and possibly damaging winds, but brief tornadoes are also possible, especially north of the Interstate 4 corridor into North Florida and the Panhandle. Floridians are strongly encouraged to have multiple ways to receive trusted weather watches and warnings on Thursday. NOAA Weather Radio and local broadcasters often provide the most relevant, up-to-date information based on their knowledge of the local geography and meteorology.

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