WRUF Weather

WRUF AWARENESS WEEK

By on February 24th, 2014

Spring is right around the corner, and it won’t be long until we will hear the sound of thunder nearly every day.  It’s the time of year when Floridians are eager to spend more time in the sun and enjoy the numerous attractions that make this state famous.  It’s also the time of year when our typically calm winter pattern turns unsettled and hazardous.  This week is designated by our State’s Division of Emergency Management to educate Floridians on the various hazards that frequently impact the state and how families or businesses can prepare for these natural events.  WRUF Weather will also use it as a week to prepare for an outbreak of severe weather that could impact our operations at the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communication and the lives of our audience.  We will focus on a different potential hazard each day and share how you can avoid the danger altogether or take steps to mitigate its impact on your life or property.

LIGHTNING

More people are killed by lightning in Florida than any other state. Within the last 50 years, there have been over 450 lightning related fatalities in The Sunshine State, more than twice the number that have occurred in the second state on the list – Texas.

Very few people can ride out an entire Florida Summer without getting caught in at least one thunderstorm.  Most of us actually become so accustomed to the sound of thunder and frequent flashes of lightning that we begin to overlook the lethal dangers they present.

Lightning strikes the United States approximately 25 million times a year.  While it may be true your odds at getting struck are less than winning the lottery, you can lower your chances even more by playing it safe when a storm hits.  There is NO gauranteed safe place outdoors during a thunderstorm.  Always consider moving inside at the first sound of thunder. Also, remember to stay away from windows and off land-line phones.

An open area  is the LAST place you want to be in a thunderstorm.  But in the event you are caught unexpectedly, from a personal experience here’s how you know you’re in danger.   Your hair will stand straight on end, not only on your arms and neck, but also on your head, and this is also accompanied by a tingling sensation. When this occurs, you’ve become a positively charged streamer and need to either run quickly to shelter, or crouch down on the balls of your feet, making as little contact with the ground as possible.

Of all the weather hazards we track at WRUF, lightning is THE MOST unpredictable phenomenon. Staying informed and aware of the risks are crucial to staying out of harm’s way.  Before you head out on a stormy day, check Storm Track Doppler on WRUF-TV or online for LIVE lightning tracking.

RIP CURRENTS

The average speed inside a rip current is 1 to 2 feet per second, which is faster than it may sound.  Speeds of up to 8 feet per second have been recorded, which is faster than Olympic Gold Medalist and former UF Swimmer Ryan Lochte can swim!

Rip currents are most threatening when the tide is high and seas are rough.  Always look for the red flag warning once getting to the beach, as this indicates high surf and potentially strong currents.

It’s important to remember that rip currents don’t pull you under; they drag you away from shore.  Rip currents move swiftly out to sea, so to escape a rip current, stay calm and swim parallel to the shoreline.

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T-Storms Likely Friday in North Florida

By on February 20th, 2014

A cold front will bring an end to our dry weather today, but not necessarily an end to the comfortable temperatures.  The storm system that triggered severe weather across much of the central U.S. moved into the Florida panhandle Thursday night, and is currently approaching North Central Florida.  The front will be strong enough to produce a round of showers and thunderstorms for all of North Florida during the day Friday.  The entire weekend won’t be a washout, though, as slightly drier air moves in Saturday shutting down the rain chances for several hours.  Slightly cooler temperatures will follow the front, but highs are still expected to reach the 70′s both Saturday and Sunday.

 

SEVERE THREAT

 

 

Though the storm has weakened as it moved across the country, a risk for severe weather remains. The primary threats will be wind damage and lightning, with a risk of small hail as well.  The chances for severe storms are highest in areas that have a chance to destabilize (or heat up) the most Friday afternoon before the clouds and rain hit.  This will most-likely be near and south of a line from St. Augustine to Ocala, or primarily in St. Johns, Putnam, Marion and Flagler counties.  Small pea-sized hail is also possible with a few of the stronger storms in the aforementioned areas.  If a significant sea breeze can form near the St. John’s River, there is the remote possibility that an isolated tornado may develop as the cold front nears.  Once again, those chances are very low.

 

TIMING OF THE STORMS

The squall line of showers and thunderstorms will be entering North Florida via the panhandle by morning commute time, crossing the I-75 corridor late morning to early afternoon, then clearing the First Coast and North-Central Florida by early evening.

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Strong front to bring thunderstorms, then colder air to North Florida Wednesday Night

By on February 11th, 2014

A strong late-winter storm will be snarling travel across much of the Southeast Wednesday and Thursday as it dumps significant snow and ice from Georgia to the Carolinas.  Further south, thunderstorms and heavy rain are likely in parts of Florida Wednesday evening as a strong cold front moves through.  There is even a marginal risk of severe weather with some of the thunderstorms, something WRUF Weather will be watching closely over the next 24 hours and leading up to the event.

PRECISION POINTS

  • Mild and dry through midday Wednesday (temps in 60′s and 70′s)
  • Showers and thunderstorms likely Wednesday evening
  • Breezy and much colder Thursday (wind chills all day in the 30′s and 40′s)

 

SEVERE POTENTIAL

A widespread outbreak of severe weather is not expected with Wednesday night’s front in North-Central Florida.  However, the dynamics and rotation aloft are more than sufficient to warrant the possibility of a few cells producing minor wind damage or small hail.  The exact timing of the front and how warm and unstable our atmosphere becomes ahead of it will be the key factors in the severe potential.  The greatest chance for severe thunderstorms capable of strong winds, hail, or even an isolated tornado is across Putnam, Marion, and Citrus counties.  In addition to the thunderstorm activity, a brief period of heavy rain with blinding downpours will occur as the front is moving through overnighrt.  WRUF Weather will be monitoring conditions closely and post an update as the situation becomes clearer.

 

BRIEF BLAST OF BITTER WIND CHILLS

The storm system is moving fast, but as it strengthens to our east it will pull down a blast of Canadian air in its wake.  Temperatures are likely to fall abruptly before sunrise Thursday morning into the upper 30’s and 40’s, then only rise into the 50’s by afternoon.  Gusty north winds Thursday morning will push the wind chills into the upper 20’s and 30’s for the early morning hours, and those same winds will keep it feeling like the 40’s nearly all day.  A light freeze is possible Thursday night in the Suwannee River Valley as the winds calm and the skies clear.  This blast will be brief, however, as temperatures will begin warming again on Friday.

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Warmer Weather On Its Way for February

By on February 1st, 2014

January 2014 proved to be one of the coldest on record for North Florida. A parade of cold fronts brought us several days when temperatures struggled to get out of the 30′s and 40′s. We even saw a winter storm that brought unusual snow, sleet and ice to the panhandle. Floridians struggled through the cold snap, while our northern neighbors ridiculed us as they faced brutally cold temperatures and heavy snow. Thankfully, a major shift in the weather pattern is expected for February that will make North Florida feeling a lot more like Florida.

Starting February 1st, a pattern a southerly flow will develop across North Florida. Although it will bring us cloudy skies and brief afternoon showers, it will also bring much warmer weather. High temperatures are expected to push near 80 degrees in many cities on Sunday the 2nd, and pass the 80 degree mark Monday and Tuesday. A ridge of high pressure building over the state will keep conditions mostly dry for the period. North Floridians can finally trade in the coats, gloves, scarves, and boots, for shorts, T-shirts and flip flops. We’ll also notice the humidity rising as well, with dew points climbing into the lower 60′s through Wednesday the 5th.

A weak front is expected to move through on Wednesday. It won’t bring much in terms of rainfall, and the strong ridge of high pressure will keep arctic air from sinking in behind the front. We will have a slight cool down, with high temperatures in the upper 60′s to lower 70′s for next weekend. Dew points will be more seasonable in the mid 40′s, making for much more comfortable conditions.

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Winter Storm Warning for Parts of North Florida Tonight

By on January 29th, 2014

WATCH WRUF-TV LIVE ON-LINE

WINTER STORM WARNING

Columbia and Suwannee Counties have been upgraded from a Winter Storm Watch to a Winter Storm Warning tonight.  A wintry mix of sleet and freezing rain is expected overnight in the warned areas, creating light accumulation of ice on roadways and dangerous driving conditions. Drivers should be especially cautious on overpasses and bridges after midnight.  The warning expires at 6am on Thursday morning.

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORIES

Winter Weather Advisories have been issued for Baker, Lafayette, and Union Counties until 9am Thursday morning.  Main impacts include a rain/sleet mix and possibly freezing rain tonight into Thursday morning.  Travel difficulties could occur with minor icing on the roadways, but widespread icing is not expected.

FREEZE WARNINGS

Suwannee, Columbia, and Baker counties are under a freeze warning for tonight until 9 am Thursday morning. Temperatures in those areas are expected to drop below 32 degrees for more than 6 hours. Sensitive vegetation and pets need to be brought inside tonight, as temperatures will be below freezing for most of the overnight hours.

THE SET UP

Another wave of low pressure moving in from the Gulf of Mexico will sweep across North Central Florida later tonight bringing a reinforcing round of showers.  The areas where the moisture brought in with this wave meets the freezing line are the places that could see sleet and icing on the roadways.  The freezing line will not be in Alachua county but along points further northward: mainly along the I-10 corridor.  However, pockets of heavier rain could cool the atmosphere enough for a brief period of sleet in Alachua County late tonight but temperatures will remain above freezing.

THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
  • Be prepared for slippery roads and limited visibility, especially along the I-10 corridor.
  • Schools in Baker, Bradford, Columbia, Suwannee, and Nassau County have closed for Thursday.
  • Preparations need to be taken for the freeze overnight.
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Rare Winter Storm Could Make Travel Hazardous in Panhandle Tuesday Night

By on January 27th, 2014

UPDATE: WINTER STORM WATCH

A Winter Storm Watch is now in effect for Columbia, Suwanee, and Union counties.  This includes areas along the I-10 corridor and the Suwanee River Valley.  Falling temperatures and a mixture of sleet and frozen rain could cause minor icing on roadways, trees, and power lines.  These hazards are not as high as areas further north under a Winter Storm Warning, but precautions should be taken nonetheless.  This watch is in effect from 10 am Wednesday morning to 10 am Thursday morning.

The new watches issued are due to a second wave of low pressure that will making its way into North Central Florida late Wednesday evening causing a high chance for another round of a wintry mix of precipitation to areas further south of I-10. Frozen rain is possible across Alachua County and areas east and west. Most impacts will be to bridges and overpasses only, if frozen precipitation occurs.

 

WINTER STORM WARNINGS STILL IN EFFECT

A rare Winter Storm Warning has been issued for the entire Florida panhandle and extreme north Florida through Wednesday morning. Freezing rain, sleet, and/ or light snow is expected to accumulate on elevated surfaces and even some roadways in the warned area. The storm system will also send temperatures below freezing yet again for much of the state north of I-4 by Wednesday night, where slick spots on bridges and overpasses may also occur from the previous day’s rain.

STORM OVERVIEW

The event began Tuesday afternoon in the far western sections of the panhandle where conditions will be cold enough aloft for a mixture of sleet and snow. Further east, including the Tallahassee metro and much of the I-10 corridor, the colder air will be delayed until early Wednesday morning and thus all rain is expected Tuesday night.  The front bringing the cold air will stall north of the I-4 corridor Tuesday night, and as an area of low pressure develops along it over the eastern Gulf precipitation will then become more widespread.  The colder air will be surging southward at this time also, resulting in a wintry mix of sleet and freezing rain in the panhandle and southern Georgia Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.  It’s at this time when ice could accumulate on trees, powerlines, and elevated surfaces such as bridges and overpasses.  Temperatures are forecast to stay just warm enough for all rain south of I-10 over the peninsula through Wednesday morning, but even cities such as Lake City and Jacksonville may see a brief changeover to sleet or freezing rain as the precipitation ends Wednesday.  In the wake of the storm a brief freeze is likely Wednesday night over the northern third of the state, but this will be followed quickly by a significant warming trend heading into the weekend.

STORM SPECIFICS BY AREA

 

WEST PANHANDLE (PENSACOLA)

  • Tuesday Night: a mixture of sleet and freezing rain; minor ice accumulations on elevated surfaces, trees and powerlines
  • Wednesday: early morning sleet or light snow with little or no additional accumulation.

 

EAST PANHANDLE (TALLAHASSEE)

  • Tuesday Night: a mixture of sleet and freezing rain; minor ice accumulations on elevated surfaces, trees and powerlines.
  • Wednesday: a mixture of light sleet or snow possible until noon; minor accumulation possible on grassy surfaces.

 

NORTHEAST FLORIDA (JACKSONVILLE)

  • Tuesday night: mostly rain, heavy at times…changing to sleet or freezing rain toward daybreak (no accumulation).
  • Wednesday: a light sleet/snow mixture in the morning, with little or no accumulation.
  • Wednesday night: below freezing temperatures expected,

 

NORTH-CENTRAL FLORIDA (GAINESVILLE)

  • Tuesday night: sharply colder, with a steady rain likely.
  • Wednesday: rain could end as a brief period of sleet by mid-morning.  A shower or two is possible again by evening, with also a brief period of sleet mixed in.  No accumulation of any freezing precipitation.
  • Wednesday night: freeze warning likely with temperatures falling just below freezing.

 

 

 

 

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By on January 21st, 2014


Four consecutive nights in a row of below-freezing temperatures are expected starting tonight. A cold front moved through North Florida on Tuesday bringing in polar air, dropping temperatures into the 20s for Wednesday morning. Another cold front will arrive on Thursday that will reinforce the cold air bringing arctic air in and keep high temperatures in the 50s and lows in the upper 20s.

A FREEZE WARNING in effect from 2am until 10am Tuesday, with below freezing temperatures possible for four hours.
A WIND CHILL ADVISORY in effect until 10am with wind chills dipping into the teens overnight.
The National Weather Service has also already issued a HARD FREEZE WATCH for Wednesday night into Thursday morning with the mention of sub-freezing temperatures for nine hours.

Overnight lows on Tuesday will be in the upper 20s across North Florida with a low of 28° in Gainesville by 7am. Take precautions by bringing in plants and pets and covering pipes. These actions should be taking through Saturday morning due to below freezing temperatures the rest of this week.

Forecast low temperatures and records

  • Wed low: 28° record: 17°
  • Thu low: 29° record: 23°
  • Fri low: 26° record: 18°
  • Sat low: 30° record: 16°
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Record-Setting Cold Likely to Arrive Monday; lasts until Wednesday

By on January 5th, 2014

The coldest air mass since 2010, maybe 2003, will be arriving in North Florida on Monday.  A few showers will mark the arrival of the arctic front between 8 and 10 am, followed by plunging temperatures and blustery winds Monday afternoon, capped off by possible record-setting temperatures Monday night, Tuesday, and Tuesday night.  A hard freeze is likely Tuesday and Wednesday morning, and wind chills could dip into the single digits Tuesday morning at the height of the cold snap.  We will be tracking the extreme cold on WRUF-TV Mornings Live from 6 to 9am both Monday and Tuesday morning, and urgent updates are available on Twitter @WRUFWeather.

 

BRIEF SHOWERS AND MILD MONDAY MORNING

The front should arrive in Lake City around 8am, Gainesville by 9am, and Ocala around 10.  A few showers will likely accompany its passage, but they will be light and brief, lasting around an hour in most areas. Temperatures ahead of the front will hold steady or briefly rise into the middle 60s.  A sudden increase in the wind will accompany the front as well, with gusts to 30 mph possible.  Temperatures will fall very suddenly during the first hour after the front, likely on the order of 10 to 15 degrees.

 

FALLING TEMPERATURES MONDAY AFTERNOON

After an initial drop in temperature behind the front, the numbers will hold steady or slowly fall throughout the afternoon.  The projected temperature in Gainesville at 3pm is 47°.  During the evening commute, those numbers could be flirting with the upper 30′s.  A blustery northwest wind of 10 to 20 mph, gusting at times to 25 mph will make it feel like the 40′s by noon, 30′s by 4pm, and upper 20′s by 9pm.  Those heading out to enjoy the BCS National Championship game at a local establishment should take note of the midnight wind chills, which will be falling into the teens!

HARD FREEZE MONDAY NIGHT

The coldest temperatures since at least January 2010 (maybe even 2003) will arrive Monday night, with a hard freeze likely in all inland areas of North Florida.  Temperatures along both coasts will also be below freezing for several hours by Tuesday morning. A “hard freeze” is defined by temperatures below 27° for a period of more than two hours.  We think Gainesville will actually meet this criteria for about six straight hours, likely falling below 27 at 2am Tuesday and not rising back up until 9am later that morning.  The total time below freezing in Gainesville will likely be 14 hours, with a rare lunchtime reading Tuesday of around 32°.  The following is a safety checklist for residents and business owners to consider by sundown Monday:

  • Pets should be brought inside if at all possible.
  • Exposed pipes should be insulated with a blanket or sheet.
  • Water should be left dripping in faucets to prevent freezing underground.
  • Space heaters should not be left unattended and positioned least two feet from any objects on all sides.
  • The elderly and young children should not venture out without the proper protection from the cold.  Tuesday morning’s wind chills could cause hypothermia or frostbite if exposed for more than 30 minutes.
  • Plants, flowers, and any vegetation sensitive to cold should be brought indoors, covered securely, or insulated by water.
DANGEROUS WIND CHILLS TUESDAY MORNING

Wind chills in the single digits and teens are even cold for Midwestern residents, but to Floridians this will be shocking.  The combination of wind and temperature makes this cold snap especially brutal.  The coldest wind chills Tuesday morning will occur around the morning commute time and will likely range from 8 to 15.  Daytime highs Tuesday will only climb to around 40, with a wind chill ALL day in the upper 20′s and lower 30′s.  This will truly be an unusual experience for North-Central Floridians, something that only happens on average once a decade.  The average high for this time of year is 66° and the average morning low is 42°.

RECORDS IN JEOPARDY

Image courtesy of NWS Jacksonville

The National Weather Service in Jacksonville says that multiple records are in jeopardy during the pending arctic blast.  WRUF Weather believes the record cold high temperature (the coldest daytime) is likely to be broken on Tuesday.  It is also possible that new record lows for January 7th and 8th will also be tied or set.  The exact numbers at the Gainesville Regional Airport are difficult to predict when they are extremely cold, due to many nearby influences of vegetation and development.  Nonetheless, we will be tracking the numbers and pass them along on our Twitter account @WRUFWeather.

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EF1 Tornado Hits Palm Coast Saturday Night

By on December 16th, 2013

Most of North and Central Florida just received a much-needed, steady, soaking rain Saturday night.  However, some residents of Flagler County are picking up pieces to their homes today, after those soggy skies turned violent when an EF1 tornado hit Palm Coast with winds up to 105 mph.  Seven homes were completely destroyed, and officials said 164 were damaged by the storm.

The National Weather Service in Jacksonville conducted a damage survey Sunday and found that the rare December tornado first touched down north of Espanola at 6:55pm, and then intermittently touched down on a path totaling 9.5 miles across the “B” Section of Palm Coast.  Surveyors said the damage path ranged from 75 yards to a maximum of 150 yards on Bannbury Lane, before weakening as it moved offshore across the “F” and Hammock sections.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (or NOAA), tornadoes can and do occur any time of year in Florida.  However, December is typically one of the quieter months, with an average of only two occurring across the entire state per year.

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2013 Hurricane Season goes down as sixth least active since 1950

By on December 2nd, 2013

The 2013 Hurricane Season has come and gone, but if you weren’t paying attention, you might not have noticed. What was predicted to be a well-above average season, with potentially devastating impacts on the east coast of the U.S., turned out to be just a footnote for the record books, with the lowest number of named storms since 1982.

Pre-Season Predictions

Early forecasts from reputable forecasters called for an above average or even a “hyperactive” season, citing sea surface temperatures well above average in parts of the Atlantic as the reason for the forecast. NOAA released its official prediction on May 23, forecasting up to 19 named storms, 6-9 hurricanes, and 3-5 major hurricanes. This compares to an average of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes. NOAA’s predictions were mirrored in scope by those of other major meteorological organizations, including the UK Meteorological office, Colorado State University and Florida State University. In addition to above average sea surface temperatures, the low probability of an El Niño event in the Pacific Ocean was also cited as cause for concern. Colorado State’s Atmospheric Sciences Department gave the entire U.S. coastline a 72% chance of being hit by a major hurricane, compared to an average of just 52%.

 

Actual Activity

Several factors contributed to a dismal hurricane season in the Atlantic. Authorities from NOAA noted that a prevalence of dry, sinking air, coupled with strong vertical wind shear throughout the Atlantic basin hindered the development of tropical storms for much of the season. Dry stable air also remained dominant over the coast of West Africa, where many storms form.

In all, the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season produced 13 named storms, of which only two, Humberto and Ingrid, achieved hurricane status.  Both storms peaked at category one strength with winds under 95 mph.

Only one storm, Tropical Storm Andrea, made landfall in the continental United States.  WRUF Weather tracked it as it quickly advanced toward the Nature Coast in early June, then made its way across the peninsula and into Georgia. The storm produced heavy rainfall, flooding and tornadoes across our state on the first week of the season.  The remaining 25 weeks of the season were eerily quiet.  As WUFT News’s Courtney McKenna points out in her recent story, emergency officials tell us the quiet season is not necessarily a good thing, especially from a pubic awareness standpoint.

 

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