Saturday is the pick day of the weekend for both travel and outdoor activities. A soggy Sunday will greet many UF students as they return to Gainesville for the start of the spring semester on Monday. WRUF urges all motorists to travel back Saturday, if they have that option, or use caution on the roadways Sunday and Sunday night when encountering the rain.
The Set Up
The cold front that sneaked through Gainesville and spoiled our Thursday didn’t make it very far to the south. In fact, it’s likely to change directions and head back north on Saturday. A cooler air mass will be in place north of the I-4 corridor with surface winds out of the northeast. Aloft, winds from the southwest (seen on the Water Vapor image) are transporting a warmer and much more humid air mass into the Sunshine State. Since cool air is heavier, the warmer and wet air mass will be lifted over the cool air at the surface creating an environment favorable for widespread and steady rain. This is mostly a stable process, so there will likely be little support for any thunderstorms. However, bands of heavier rain will be possible when an area of lower pressure develops along the front and moves across the state on Sunday.
Timing of the Rain
Showers are possible in central Florida, especially closer to the Atlantic Coast, on Saturday afternoon. Rain will likely hold off in North-Central Florida until Saturday night. Only spotty showers are expected with the first wave of moisture as it moves in, and this activity is more likely to move north of Alachua County by Sunday morning. As the aforementioned wave of lower pressure develops along the front, a more widespread and steady rainfall event will begin to unfold late Sunday and Sunday night. This is when the heaviest and longest-lasting rain will hit Gainesville. Current model data suggests that all of North-Central Florida will see an abrupt end to the rain before dawn on Monday morning.
The heaviest rain will likely occur in two corridors, where the retreating front stalls early Sunday morning and near or north of the where the low pressure moves across the state Sunday night. At this time, we think rainfall accumulations of over an inch will be possible in these two distinct bands which will likely set up near the I-10 and I-4 corridors. Other locations of North-Central Florida, including Gainesville, can expect between 0.5 and 1 inch of rain with this system.
We’ve identified when travel might be most challenging through the rain on the following corridors back into Gainesville:
- I-10 Pensacola to Lake City: Heaviest rain Saturday evening and overnight, drying out on Sunday afternoon.
- I-95 Tampa to Gainesville: A few showers Saturday night through Sunday morning, then heavier episodes of rain (some thunder) Sunday evening and overnight.
- Turnpike Miami to Orlando: Only a few showers Saturday Night and Sunday, with an episode of heavier rain and thunder possible late Sunday night.