A Tornado Watch continues for the panhandle of Florida, and might be extended further east this evening. Several reports of wind damage and possible tornadoes have already been observed in southern Alabama, Mississippi, and northwest Florida. We are watching this squall line closely and have an updated time of arrival listed below, based on county:
Columbia, Gilchrist, and Dixie: 5 to 7pm
Baker, Union, Bradford, Alachua, and Levy: 7 to 9pm
Clay, Putnam, Marion, and Citrus: 9 to 11pm
Hold on to your hat, find the rain gear, and secure those Christmas decorations! A powerful front is about to blow through Alachua County tonight. It will be the strongest front the region has seen in over a year, with a temperature drop of nearly 50 degrees expected from today to tomorrow night. The arrival of the cold air will be marked by gusty winds and strong thunderstorms.
Although the actual front will not get here until later this evening, signs of its approach are already apparent. Temperatures have already warmed to near 80 degrees. However, clouds are increasing and winds are picking up out of the south to around 20 mph, making it apparent that something dramatic could be unfolding. In the wake of the front, winds could be even higher this evening, possibly gusting to 30 mph at times.
The front will move through quickly. The first chances of showers and thunderstorms will be near the Nature Coast around 6pm. Showers and thunderstorms are likely reach Alachua county by 8pm with heavy rain, some lightning and very gusty winds. The storm is moving quickly and most of the rain and thunder will have subsided by 10pm. Some downpours will be heavy, though, and we are expecting about a half inch of rain in all. Minor wind damage is also possible should a stronger storm hit your neighborhood. We recommend that motorists should exercise caution when the storms arrive, and pedestrians should head inside at any sign of lighting or thunder.