Severe Weather, Flash Flooding Likely To Start The Weekend In The Florida Panhandle
Widespread rain and thunderstorms have made for a loud Friday morning over the Panhandle, but additional rounds of storms late Friday night into Saturday morning could generate more severe weather and elevate flooding concerns.
About a half-dozen severe thunderstorm warnings were issued early Friday morning from the coast of Franklin county north and west into Bay, Calhoun, Jackson, and Washington counties in the Panhandle. Most of these warnings are for the likelihood of up to quarter-size hail, which can do minor damage. Additional warnings for large hail and strong, gusty winds are possible anywhere in the Panhandle through Friday afternoon. Radar is estimating that more than an inch of rain has fallen, which will lead to ponding and some areas of flash flooding in the strongest storms.
A strong atmospheric disturbance over New Mexico Friday morning is forecast to move eastward along the Gulf coast Friday night into Saturday. A very warm, humid, and unstable environment is expected to stream northward ahead of this disturbance. Thunderstorms are likely to erupt over Oklahoma and Texas Friday afternoon and organize into a formidable squall line over parts of Mississippi and Alabama Friday night. High-resolution model simulations are indicating this line is likely to hold its strength into the Florida Panhandle during the pre-dawn hours of Saturday into Saturday morning. This line has the potential to produce hurricane-force wind gusts as it moves through the Panhandle during this time. There is also the possibility that storm cells may develop in front of the squall line early Saturday morning, and these individual cells are capable of producing isolated tornadoes, as well.
Areas of flash flooding are becoming more probable with the frequent rounds of rain and storms. Widespread rainfall amounts of 2 to 5 inches, with locally higher amounts, could easily cause flooding of roadways. The National Weather Service in Tallahassee said that minor river flooding could gradually develop later this week along the Chipola, Apalachicola, and Ochlockonee Rivers if enough rain falls upstream of these rivers Friday into Saturday.
After a break in the weather later Saturday afternoon, another round of showers and storms is possible over the Panhandle late Saturday night into Sunday morning. There is greater uncertainty on a possible third round of thunderstorms, but early indications are the threat of damaging storms is lower with a possible final round early Sunday. Drier conditions are expected late Sunday afternoon into Monday over the Panhandle, but rip currents could continue to pose a danger to swimmers in the Gulf of Mexico this weekend.
UPDATE ON THURSDAY RESCUES:
SWFD resources were overwhelmed by an 11-person rescue in Miramar Beach around 4:30 p.m.
2 of the 11 people were transported while receiving CPR and life-saving measures.@WCSOFL & SWFD ask EVERYONE to stay out of the water!! pic.twitter.com/qL7mTMZ4Et— South Walton Fire District (@SWFDINFO) April 8, 2021
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