Threat for severe thunderstorms ramps up tonight across the Panhandle
Severe storms are possible over Florida’s Panhandle Tuesday night and Wednesday morning as, yet another cold front takes aim at the region. The main threats from this latest batch of storms will be localized flooding and damaging winds. A few tornadoes will also be possible.
On Tuesday morning, a dynamic early winter storm system was developing over the Canadian Prairie and the United States Great Plains. The core of this system is expected to continue on an eastward track over the mid and northern latitudes this week, but a cold front should extend from its center and span the length of the eastern contiguous United States. Ahead of this cold front, a warm frontal boundary is projected to lift from the northern Gulf of Mexico into the Southeast and Lower Mississippi Valley. The introduction of a humid and warm airmass to this region ahead of the cold front should set the stage for dangerous thunderstorms Tuesday night and Wednesday.
Although models predict that the greatest risk for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes will be over Mississippi, the chance still exists for the Florida Panhandle. Clusters of storms could lift northward from the immediate Gulf Coast into the Pensacola and Panama City metro areas Tuesday night. Then, a strong line of potentially severe thunderstorms is expected track from west to east across the entire length of the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday morning. This second batch of storms for Pensacola and Panama City could arrive before dawn. The Forgotten Coast and Tallahassee regions will likely be impacted during the morning commute through the late morning. Then, downpours and thunderstorms should slide into North Florida, including the Jacksonville and Gainesville areas on Wednesday afternoon. By Wednesday evening, the line should be weakening, however a few gusty thunderstorms are possible over the I-4 corridor during and after rush hour.
This storm system poses multiple threats to the Florida Panhandle. Conditions in the environment will be supportive of damaging straight-line winds, especially immediately ahead of the forecasted squall line on Wednesday morning. In addition, a few thunderstorms imbedded within the line could produce fast-tracking tornadoes. Finally, localized flash flooding will be possible, especially between Pensacola and Panama City, where storms are projected to occur both Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
As usual, residents and tourists alike are encouraged to continue monitoring the forecast. When alerts are issued by the National Weather Service, seek appropriate shelter until the hazardous weather passes.