The massive winter storm that is currently moving through the Central U.S. is likely to weaken considerably by the time it reaches The Sunshine State. However, the colder air rushing in behind this system will help to better define a battle zone between air masses that will likely lead to some unsettled weather here in the Southeast. Following several episodes of thunderstorms along this boundary will be a stronger system that moves up the East Coast and into New England next week, likely leaving the floodgates open for an arctic chill to “march” southward as we turn the calendar next weekend.
- First round of storms possible Saturday afternoon or evening
- Heavier and more widespread rains likely Sunday Night and Monday
- Cold snap in early March could rival last weekend’s blast, but last longer
Spring-like warmth Thursday and Friday will set the stage for an unstable period of weather starting this weekend and lasting through at least Tuesday. Daytime highs will soar into the 80’s on Friday and Saturday, but it’s the dew point (a measure of moisture) that will play a bigger role in bringing the unsettled conditions. Dew points dropped as low as the 20’s and 30’s during the recent cool down mid-week, but thanks to a more southerly component to the wind, will be climbing into the 50’s Thursday and lower 60’s by Friday. It is then that most Floridians will feel the added humidity and likely have a hunch rain is on the way.
We likely will have to wait one more day, however, for the rains to come. A cold front will be slowing down as it approaches the region on Friday, likely stalling somewhere Saturday in North-Central Florida. This front will provide the lift necessary for showers and thunderstorms to form. It is still unclear at this time how widespread or strong Saturday’s storms will be. What is quite clear is the lingering front will be the focal point for several more rounds of rain and thunder developing again late Sunday and Monday as a new wave of low pressure moves in out of the Gulf of Mexico. The exact timing, strength, and location of where the heaviest thunderstorms will be is something we will be working to specify in the coming days.
COLD SNAP ON THE “MARCH”
As low pressure develops along the aforementioned boundary across Florida over the weekend, a new storm will begin to unfold across the central part of the county early next week. At the same time, a fresh batch of true arctic air will be on the move across central and eastern Canada. These two systems are projected to work in tandem to pull down this arctic air and deliver it to much of the country east of the Mississippi River late next week. As this happens, a Nor’Easter could also develop in New England, further strengthening the flow of cold air deep into the Southeast. There is considerable disagreement on just how far south this air mass moves and just how cold it could be. Consideration must also be given to how much snow is (or soon will be) on the ground over much of the Ohio Valley and Central Plains, possibly allowing the air mass to penetrate further south than current models indicate. We will keep a close eye on this, but remember a frost or freeze is entirely possible in early March. The average date of the last freeze in Gainesville is February 24th, but the latest freeze ever recorded wasn’t until April 17 in 1962. Stay tuned!