It’s been a wet winter in Gainesville. Dating back to November, the regional airport has recorded nearly 16 inches of rain, more than five inches above the normal totals for the four-month period. A persistent dip in the jet stream over the eastern third of the country is the primary reason for the wet pattern. This river of air aloft has steered strong storm systems toward Florida on a consistent basis for several months, averaging about one per week. And now that spring-like warmth is starting it’s annual fight against the retreating cold air masses of winter, the typical wet month of March is likely to be no different in 2014 for the region.
THE SET UP
Long range forecast data suggests that an active jet stream will continue to send pieces of energy across the southern states that will breed unsettled weather in the Gulf of Mexico over the next two, maybe three weeks. As these low pressure systems move across the peninsula, they flare up along the boundary that separates the retreating winter cold and advancing spring warmth. This boundary, often referred to as a front, aids in the development and track of clusters of showers and thunderstorms. It moves north ahead of a storm, then is pushed further south by cooler north winds in the wake of a low pressure system. The episodes of storminess will likely be separated by periods of dry weather lasting four to five days.
OUR NEXT RAIN EVENT
The next storm system will send two distinct waves of precipitation across the state over the next two days. The first wave will be more aimed at the panhandle and I-10 corridor on Wednesday. A second and more substantial episode of rainfall will hit the rest of the state on Thursday. Stronger thunderstorms will also be possible Thursday along and south of the I-4 corridor where warmer and more humid air will reside. Rainfall amounts from the two-day event will range from near two inches along I-10 to around a half inch in Marion County and points southward. Rainfall accumulation of 0.5 to 1 inch is expected for much of North-Central Florida, including Cedar Key and Gainesville.