The combination of tropical moisture and a strong late-season front talked about earlier this week here on WRUFWeather.com will produce two rounds of strong thunderstorm activity in North Florida. The first round arrives with a pronounced sea breeze event Wednesday afternoon. The second (and longer lasting) episode will mark the arrival of a strong late-season cold front on Thursday. Heavy rain, gusty winds and frequent lightning will accompany most of the thunderstorms, and some of them could even be severe.
- Thunderstorms near the I-75 corridor Wednesday afternoon/evening, moving west toward the Nature Coast.
- Heavy rain and thunderstorms likely in all areas Thursday afternoon/evening, with the heaviest moving closer to the Atlantic coast later in the day.
- Minor wind damage, frequent lightning, and localized flooding are the primary threats with the stronger storms.
4:30PM UPDATE: Showers and storms moving through North Florida, with some strong storms. There was a report of quarter sized hail in Marion County near the Ocala airport. Much of the activity has shifted to the west of the I-75 corridor and is where the greater rain chances will remain for this evening. Updated end times of rain shown on map below.
Most of Wednesday’s showers and thunderstorms will be aligned along a strong sea breeze front that moves in from the Atlantic side of the peninsula by late afternoon. The coverage of the rain along this boundary will be more widespread than would normally be the case this time of year due to the added tropical moisture from a wave in the upper part of the atmosphere. Locations near or just west of the I-75 corridor have the greatest chances for heavy rain and stronger thunderstorm activity.
The setup for thunderstorms will be different on Thursday, but some of the same areas will receive the same result – heavy rain and thunderstorms. A strong cold front will be arriving from the Gulf of Mexico by early evening. The remaining tropical moisture from Wednesday’s event will make it rather easy for the atmosphere to reload and produce clusters of afternoon thunderstorms well in advance of this front. Then, later in the afternoon, a more organized line of rain and thunder will likely develop along the front, potentially interacting with an Atlantic coast sea breeze to produce the strong storms and possible localized flooding between the I-75 and I-95 corridors where storms repeat themselves. Drier air will surge in from the west behind the front, shutting off the rain from west to east by Thursday evening.