An early spring storm will deliver heavy rain and possible severe weather to North Florida on Monday. Confidence is high that nearly all areas will receive at least an inch of rain, but some areas could see upwards of three or more inches before the storm moves out early Tuesday. Strong thunderstorms are also possible, with a low risk that some of them could produce wind damage or an isolated tornado.
Big Bend to Lake City corridor – thunderstorms arrive this evening after 7pm, tapers off some overnight, then becomes much heavier toward daybreak, followed by off and on periods of heavy rain and distant thunder through sunrise Tuesday.
Cedar Key to Gainesville to Palatka corridor – a shower can’t be ruled out Sunday evening, but the heavier and steadier rain likely starts with some thunder by 6am Monday, then periods of heavy rain and some thunder will continue all day with only a few short-lived breaks, tapering off late evening to a few showers that will linger through 9am Tuesday.
Marion County and points south – mostly dry through 9am Monday, at which point a few strong thunderstorms will mark the arrival of the event, followed by a steady rain nearly all day, becoming heavier at times with more thunder late afternoon, continuing through the overnight hours, finally tapering off to a few lingering showers through 10am Tuesday.
The slow-moving nature of the storm system, combined with several waves of energy loaded with moisture moving in off the gulf, falling on already saturated soils, will increase the risk for flooding of many low-lying areas, creeks and streams. Rainfall totals will likely exceed two inches in most of North Florida through Tuesday morning. Some locations, especially where the heavier downpours move over some of the same areas, could see more than three inches of total rainfall. At the present time, we think this is most-likely near and north of a Cedar Key to Gainesville to Starke line (see map).
Residents that live near flood-prone areas need to prepare for quick water rises during the heaviest downpours Monday and Monday night. Local small rivers, creeks and streams may also flood from the runoff of this event for a few days after it is over. Motorists are urged to use extreme caution Monday when driving through ponding on roadways and are reminded to always turn around if the water covers the road.
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM THREAT
The early arrival of clouds and rain Monday will likely mitigate what could be a significant severe weather threat for parts of North Florida. The storm is dynamic, full of moisture, and has all of the ingredients to produce severe thunderstorms minus instability. As a result, only those areas that are able to hold off the morning rain and heat up a bit have a significant chance for wind damage or isolated tornadoes. This is most-likely south of a Citrus Springs-Ocala-Palatka line from late morning through mid-afternoon. Even though the chances are low, a thunderstorm producing wind damage can not be ruled out farther north in cities such as Gainesville or Starke. By Monday evening, the atmosphere will have been tamed in all areas and severe weather is not anticipated.