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Stormy weather on tap for Pensacola area

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NWS
Alert from the National Weather Service Monday afternoon.

Much of the Gulf Coast is bracing for another influx of stormy weather, which is expected to move in on Tuesday.

The culprit is an area of low pressure originating from the Four Corners region in the Southwest. Justin Ballard, a meteorologist at the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network is keeping an eye on things.

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“And while that is going to kind of get it back together over the next twelve to 18 hours or so it's going to start spreading in warmth and moisture,” said Ballard “You probably will start to feel that not necessarily today but certainly by tomorrow warmth front will lift north especially later on [Tuesday] afternoon, [Tuesday] evening.”

That in turn is expected to destabilize the atmosphere, leading to higher dew points, warmer temperatures, and muggier weather that’s not normal for January. Ballard says that will set the stage for stronger storms by Tuesday night.

“The Storm Prediction Center, which issues these watches as well as the outlook, has most of western Florida, the Panhandle — Pensacola to Destin — under an enhanced risk,” he said. “That basically means on a 1 to 5 scale, that's a 3.”

As if that’s not enough, Ballard says atmospheric conditions will also be conducive to damaging winds, which he considers the biggest threat – along with the potential for tornadoes.

“Some of those tornadoes could be strong and longer track,” said Ballard. “I know it's January, but this is time of the season that we look at along the Gulf Coast, from really all the way west from New Orleans to all the way east to our area this time of the year for severe weather.”

Rain totals are only predicted to be around a half-inch to an inch and a half or so, but it depends on the amount of time it takes to fall. The shorter the time frame, the better chance of flash flooding in low-lying areas.

“Cooler weather will arrive Thursday into Friday; temperatures will be in the upper 40s, low 50s, maybe mid 50s, Ballard said. “Starting Wednesday night [lows] will likely be in the 30s. We could be looking at some frost-freeze products being issued by the National Weather Service office just west of you in Mobile.”

And Ballard has some advice for residents in the affected area — use this round of storms as a way to prepare for the upcoming spring storm season.

“Have multiple ways to get those weather alerts, especially since this is kind of coming in during the overnight,” he said. “It looks like the main window for severe weather will be overnight [Tuesday] into early Wednesday, while a lot of us are asleep. So just make sure you've got more than one way to get those severe weather alerts and take shelter whenever a warning is issued.”

Ferris Hill Baptist Church will open its shelter for the homeless and heatless tonight, and on Wednesday and Thursday nights. The church is located on Chaffin Street in Milton.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.