An area of low pressure is forecast to strengthen rapidly as it comes ashore in the panhandle Tuesday and moves up the east coast Wednesday. Warm, humid air will surge northward ahead of the storm Tuesday, setting the stage for a round or two of strong thunderstorms as the air masses collide along a cold front Tuesday night. This early winter storm will also impact millions of travellers who may be heading north for the holiday on Wednesday, followed by the season’s first freeze in parts of Florida Thanksgiving morning.
- Wind damage is the primary concern with a squall line Tuesday night.
- Isolated tornadoes are possible near the Gulf coast Tuesday evening
- Heaviest rainfall (2 to 3 inches) most-likely in the panhandle and big bend region
IMPACTS TO FLORIDA
TUESDAY: A warm front will be lifting north throughout the day, likely making it to the Florida-Georgia border by late afternoon. Numerous showers and a few thunderstorms will be developing along this boundary, especially later in the day and north of the I-4 corridor. Widespread severe weather is not anticipated, but a few isolated cells capable of wind damage or small hail will be possible. A steadier, heavier rain is likely in the panhandle for most of the day as the low pressure comes ashore.
TUESDAY NIGHT: A squall line of sorts with heavy rain, some thunder, and possible severe weather is expected to sweep across the entire peninsula Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. Strong upper-level winds will send the squall line quickly to the east, at times producing some wind damage and isolated tornadoes. The greatest chances for severe weather is closer to the Gulf Coast, from Apalachicola to Sarasota, and primarily during the evening hours. The threat diminishes gradually overnight as the front pushes inland, but isolated wind damage is still possible with this system all the way to the Atlantic coast in the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday.
WEDNESDAY: Drier weather will quickly replace the departing storm in Florida by midday Wednesday. Strong north winds and falling temperatures, however, will likely continue through Wednesday night. Gale conditions are expected along both coastlines of north Florida, with at least Small Craft Advisory winds likely along all other nearshore waters.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT AND THURSDAY: The season’s first freeze is possible for many inland areas Thursday morning. Temperatures (at this time) are projected to fall to near the freezing mark in cities like Gainesville and Jacksonville, with upper 20s possible in the Suwannee River Valley and points west through the panhandle such as Tallahassee and Pensacola. This freeze will be an advection freeze, meaning it is driven primarily by the wind and therefore, a frost is not expected. However, a hard freeze is possible in many inland areas of the panhandle and near the Georgia border where the continuous north wind will keep temperatures below freezing for several hours. Wind chills will also be a factor across most of the state on Thanksgiving Day morning, falling as low as the 20s north of I-4 and in the 30s and 40s all the way to parts of south Florida.
Florida: Heavy rain and wind could cause delays at Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville airports Tuesday and Tuesday night, with improving conditions by air Wednesday. Roadways will be impacted by periods of heavy rain and possible severe weather Tuesday in the panhandle, and then Tuesday night across the rest of the peninsula.
Southeast US: Heavy rain and wind could cause delays at Atlanta, Birmingham, Charlotte, and Raleigh airports Tuesday night and Wednesday. Heavy rain will also cause some slow-ups on interstates during the same time. Snow and ice will snarl travel in the high country of North and South Carolina, and eastern Kentucky and Tennessee Tuesday night and early Wednesday.
Northeast US: Significant impact to travel, both air and land, is expected Wednesday. All major airports from Dulles to Boston (along the coast) will likely experience delays of several hours at some point on the busiest travel day of the year, and ground stoppages are possible for airports further inland (such as Pittsburgh and Buffalo). Ground travel will be severely impacted further inland in states such as West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania due to snow and ice accumulation Wednesday night. Only rain is expected along the I-95 corridor through the duration of the event. Conditions in the Northeast will improve dramatically on Thursday, with very little impact from weather expected for the remainder of the holiday period.
Rest of the Nation: Much of the central U.S. and upper Midwest will be calm and quiet during the holiday period, but rather cold. A warm-up will occur from the Plains west, and conditions should remain favorable for travel through Sunday. The extreme northwest could experience some impactful weather by Sunday, as a new storm comes ashore.