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UPDATE: Severe threat is over for NC Florida

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UPDATE FRIDAY 8:30PM

Most of the rainfall has finally started to exit Alachua County and the severe weather threat is over. A wide area of showers and a few rumbles of thunder should be making their way into Alachua County after 8:30PM and stick around for a few hours. Some areas to the east of 75 could see spotty shower activity with the chance of some heavier pockets of rain. Spotty showers will stick around for most of the day on Saturday while the system finally exits the area on Saturday evening.

Showers still possible east of 75 during the overnight hours.

UPDATE: FRIDAY 5:00 PM

Showers over North Central Florida have started to become a bit lighter in nature, but we’re still keeping an eye out for the possibility of isolated strong storms during the evening hours. Primary threats during the overnight hours will be strong winds. The flooding risk is diminishing for Alachua, Marion, and Gilchrist County, but flooding is still a concern over North Central Florida. An additional 1-2″ of rainfall are possible overnight, with an additional 3″+ in localized areas.

UPDATE: FRIDAY 1:30PM

Rain will become steadier in Alachua County by 2pm, with isolated, stronger storms possible after 4pm. A severe threat does exist including wind damage, isolated tornadoes and small hail. This risk lies mainly to the east of I-75. The axis of heavy rain will be along the I-10 corridor where flooding is a concern. Breaks in the activity will occur near 10pm, but showers are possible throughout the evening tonight

Threat Tracker showing moderate risk of wind damage, low risk for isolated tornadoes and small hail.

UPDATE: FRIDAY 11AM

Much of the rain that was expected well ahead of the main front this evening has not developed. While this has temporarily led to a much nicer Friday for much of North-Central Florida so far, it also has allowed the atmosphere to destabilize a bit more than earlier model data had suggested.  As a result, the threat for severe thunderstorms has increased slightly for Gainesville and Ocala this afternoon and early this evening.  We are monitoring conditions minute-minute-minute and providing more frequent updates on our Personal Storm Tracking Blog.

UPDATED Threat Tracker for this afternoon.

UPDATE: FRIDAY 6AM

New model data suggests the area of low pressure might be a little stronger as it approaches the Big Bend region of the Florida panhandle.  As a result, a slightly more unstable air mass could advance as far north as Gainesville and Ocala by Friday afternoon.  The heavy rain part of our forecast (with potential flooding) is still on track, and we no reason to make changes at the present time. However, we have adjusted our Threat Tracker to include Alachua County for possible wind damage, isolated tornadoes, and small hail (see map below).

Original post from early Thursday morning…

Here we go again!  Another significant rain event with a low-end risk for severe weather is likely in North Florida Friday and Friday night.  We’ve had several of these already this year, leading to a surplus (compared to normal) in Gainesville’s rain gauge of roughly six inches dating back to November 2013. Thankfully, these events have been largely spread out over time with decent stretches of dry weather between them. Nonetheless, many area rivers are already near flood stage and every heavy rainfall event, such as this one, poses an increased risk for flooding.

In addition to the potential for heavy rain and flooding, the storm system that will trigger the wet weather is also expected to carry with it a risk for severe weather.  Uncertainty is unusually high in the strength and track of an area of low pressure out of the Gulf of Mexico late Friday or early Saturday, both of which will play a role in the location and severity of any thunderstorm activity.  Stay in touch with WRUF Weather over the coming hours leading up to the event for frequent updates.

As of Thursday morning, here is a breakdown of our latest thoughts as it relates to the timing of the rain, the flooding potential and severe weather threats.

 

TIMING OF THE RAIN

  • Friday – widespread rain with some embedded thunderstorms likely. Heaviest rain is most-likely to occur during the morning and midday hours.
  • Friday night – stronger thunderstorms are possible as the storm system approaches, but significant question marks still exist on the location and severity of these storms.
  • Saturday – periods of light to moderate rain are still possible in the morning, with a gradual drying trend expected by afternoon.

FLOODING POTENTIAL

Not all of the rain with system will fall at once, which is great news for water-logged parts of North Florida.  However, the areas that are most prone to flooding in this event are also the most likely to receive the heaviest accumulation.  Locations near the Suwannee and Santa Fe Rivers will probably see at least two inches of total rainfall (through Saturday), with the possibility of some locales receiving as many as four inches of rain.  Significant model differences do exist in where the axis of heaviest rain will fall, and it is possible that cities such as Gainesville or Ocala will see well more than two inches of rain also.  River flooding will obviously be a concern in the hours and days following this event.  It should also be noted, however, that if thunderstorms with heavy rain tend to repeat themselves over some of the same areas (often called “training”), urban and flash flooding will become possible as well.

SEVERE T-STORM POTENTIAL

At this time, confidence is very low in exactly when or where stronger thunderstorms may develop with this system.  A few stronger storms capable of hail and wind damage are possible along a northward-moving warm front Friday afternoon, but latest model data suggests that will stay closer to the I-4 corridor.  A strong cold front and strengthening area of low pressure moving in off the Gulf of Mexico will carry with it a low risk for wind damage and isolated tornadoes when it arrives Friday night or early Saturday.  However, considerable uncertainty remains on how unstable our atmosphere will be upon its arrival.  We will closely monitor conditions as the storm develops and keep you updated on these apparent risks.

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