Mammoth Cyclone Covers the Eastern Two-Thirds of the US; Florida Impacts
As they say for the month of March, it comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Depending on where you are reading this from, you could easily argue for whether March is a lamb or a lion. For some in Louisiana and Mississippi, rain totals topped the foot mark during the last couple of days. For a few unlucky folks in western Louisiana, the ground is now super-saturated with upwards of 16″ of unneeded water. A few tornadoes even twisted through parts of Louisiana and Mississippi on Wednesday. All of this wacky weather has been caused by a gigantic area of low pressure parked over Oklahoma and Nebraska. This low is bringing in moisture from south Florida and wrapping it all the way through the midwest and into the Colorado plains. Along with it, this cyclone is keeping temperatures well into the 50s in northern Texas and Oklahoma compared to temperatures in the 80s in the cloudless skies of southern Texas.
More of this wet, and almost winterlike weather for some is expected in the central plains and eastward for some days to come. That is all because a high pressure has set up camp over the southeastern US and western north Atlantic ocean, which is acting like a steel wall that is not letting much more than heat build along the east coast. A few summerlike thunderstorms have built along the sea breeze in the Carolinas and into the heart of Dixie. Below is a radar image from this evening (~6:00pm ET) with the storm is all it’s glory:
What does this mean for Florida….a couple messy days. Rain and clouds are already affecting the extreme western panhandle, where temperatures didn’t even break the 80 degree mark. This rain band will SLOWLY move on the east on Friday and Saturday. The main area of issue will be from Pensacola eastward to DeFuniak Springs and Niceville on Friday afternoon into Friday night. Temps here should only make it into the upper 70s rather than the low to mid 80s as we have seen the last couple of weeks. There is a slight risk that the heating of the day may allow for a few storms to become strong to severe in nature from Marianna westward during the afternoon on Friday with the main risk being high winds.
The threat creeps eastward for Saturday to places such as Panama City, Tallahassee, and Perry. Again the best chance of thunderstorms will exist during the afternoon hours during the peak heating of the day. I think the energy associated with this cyclone will begin to move northeastward during the weekend, which may limit storm activity in Florida to right along the Georgia and Alabama borders. An isolated wind gust to severe limits (greater than 60mph) is not out of the question, but the chances do come down in comparison to Friday.
Afternoon pulse thunderstorms, known to many as popcorn thunderstorms, are probable on both Friday and Saturday along the spine of Florida in central and north Florida with the heating of the day and the intense pull of moisture from the Caribbean being caused by the cyclone. Some early morning fog is possible if winds drop off in the hills of north and central Florida, so keep this in mind as you travel into or out of fog prone areas.