WRUF Weather

Strong Storms Likely Near I-75 Friday Evening

By on June 20th, 2014

The atmosphere was sizzling Friday across north Florida, with temperatures reaching the lower 90′s and heat indices topping 100 in many locations.  A slower advancing sea breeze from both coasts has delayed the arrival of the typical afternoon showers and thunderstorms, and at the same time an upper-level disturbance was approaching from the north.  All three boundaries are likely to collide near or just west of the I-75 corridor in Alachua and Marion counties between 7 and 11pm this evening, likely leading to numerous strong thunderstorms.  The primary threats with tonight’s storms will be minor wind damage, dangerous cloud-to-ground lightning, small hail, and very heavy rain.  We will be tracking the storms with your Weather on the 6′s on WRUF-TV and on our Twitter account @WRUFWeather.

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Tuesday’s Triple Digit Heat to Turn Skies Turbulent by Evening

By on June 10th, 2014

UPDATE:  Possible sea breeze collision zone today is likely to be near US 301 and not until after 6pm.  A surge of deeper moisture from central and south Florida could aid in the redevelopment of showers and thunderstorms for many inland locations well into the evening.  Early in the evening, some of the stronger cells could be capable of winds up to 50 mph and small hail.

 

A late arrival to showers and thunderstorms will allow for temperatures to climb this afternoon. But it’s not that high temperature you should worry about, it’s how hot it’s actually going to feel with the heat index.

For the first time this year, the heat index in Gainesville broke the 100° mark on Monday and will repeat itself on Tuesday. Heat indices will be near or above the 100° between 1 and 4pm Tuesday afternoon. Remember to take precautions if outdoors during this time by wearing light colored clothing, drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding strenuous activity.

 
Relief from the heat will be arriving later in the afternoon hours in the form of showers and thunderstorms. Spotty showers will move inland after 2pm, but stronger storms will start to develop where the sea breezes collide around drive time. Isolated strong storms are possible mainly near and just east of the I-75 corridor. Later in the evening, some of these cells could drift northwest towards the cities of Gainesville and Ocala. Main threats associated with these storms are strong winds, small hail and frequent lightning. Shower and thunderstorm activity will end by 10pm.

WRUF Weather will be tracking all of the storms on WRUFWeather.com where you can track the storms with us using the “Personal Storm Tracking Tool.” You can also send us your damage reports on our website, tweet photos to our Twitter account @WRUFWeather using  #WeatherTogether, or through email weather@wruf.com.

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Triple Digit Heat Index Ahead of Showers and Thunderstorms Monday Afternoon

By on June 9th, 2014

A dry start to Monday will allow temperatures to soar… and the heat index. Not only will high temperatures be above 90°, the heat index will be in the triple digits. It will likely be the first time this year the heat index will break the 100° mark in Gainesville.  The highest heat index and the highest temperatures will occur around 2pm today and it is encouraged to take precautions while outdoors.

Hour-by-hour for Gainesville with the heat index this afternoon

 

Safety tips when spending time outdoors:

  • Wear light colored clothing
  • Drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol
  • Slow down – avoid strenuous activity.

 

 

Timing and likelihood of showers and thunderstorms Monday afternoon

Then, relief from the heat will come in the form of scattered showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon hours. Activity today will be concentrated mainly near and east of the I-75 corridor and west of I-95. Spotty showers will begin to move inland after 2pm with stronger activity possible after 4pm, especially in the light blue shaded region. Some locally strong storms are possible with frequent lightning, heavy downpours and gusty winds.

 

WRUF Weather will be tracking all of the storms on WRUFWeather.com where you can track the storms with us using the personal storm tracking tool. You can also send photos of damage to us on Twitter to our handle @WRUFWeather using #Weather Together or through email weather@wruf.com.

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Update: Straight-Line Winds Damage Homes and Businesses in North Florida Sunday

Update:  The National Weather Service confirmed to WRUF Weather that the damage from Sunday’s storms was a result of downburst winds and not a tornado.  Dr. David Prevatt, Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Coastal Engineering for the University of Florida, has done extensive research on the mitigation of wind damage to low rise buildings.  He conducted a survey of the damage earlier today and shared his findings.

“Suffice to say, we examined damage in two areas – Newberry gas station and the Kanapaha apartment building – and we find no evidence of a tornado-type damage to the structures or to the trees,” Prevatt said in an email to WRUF Weather.

It’s important to remember that thunderstorms of all sizes and strength, even those that aren’t warned as being “severe”, can produce strong wind gusts with  little warning.  This is especially true in Florida where they develop quickly during the heating of the afternoon and along fast-moving sea breeze fronts.

 

Original story posted Sunday night…

Many residents of North-Central Florida will be spending their Monday cleaning up from Sunday’s thunderstorms that produced significant tree and structural damage to some neighborhoods.  One person was injured in Alachua County near the town of Newberry from what was reported as a possible tornado.  This report, along with many others, were still coming in from the Alachua County Emergency Management as of 10 pm Sunday.  The list includes several trees that fell onto vehicles, homes and apartments, displacing some residents in an apartment complex near the town of Archer.  The National Weather Service could not verify Sunday evening if there was indeed a tornado that hit the town of Newberry, but radar data suggested the damage might have been caused by powerful straight-line winds estimated to be between 50 and 60 mph.

Reports as of 10pm Sunday

  • 8:17 pm – Alachua County emergency manager reporting there was a lightning strike survivor at 2706 NW 245th DR in Newberry
  • 8:15 pm – one person injured at an apartment complex in Newberry where trees and power lines were reportedly downed by a possible tornado
  • 8:15 pm – multiple reports from emergency management of structural damage at 10 NW 25th street in the town of Newberry (Alachua County) where a building suffered moderate damage and a gas station canopy toppled over
  • 6:15 pm – public report of a tree falling into a house near I-75 at the Archer Road exit with trees down in the area
  • 6:15 pm – strong winds near Gainesville caused downed power lines
  • 6:05 pm – trees downed near Miconopy from strong wind gusts along US 441 near Paynes Prairie
  • 6:00 pm – minor flooding along northwest 10th avenue in Gainesville.
  • 5:55 pm – WRUF Weather reported pea sized hail near UF campus in Gainesville
  • 5:10 pm – trees were downed on a campground in Juniper Springs in Marion County
  • 4:20 pm – numerous trees and power powerlines fell along State Road 19 near Silver Lake Dr. in Putnam County
  • 4:15 pm – downed trees and power lines were reported near Satsuma in Putnam County
  • 4:15 pm - trees fell on power lines and a car near Theressa. a outdoor shed also blown over
  • 2:30 pm – dime to Nickel-sized hail was reported near Middleburg in Clay County

 

Damage to a gas station in Newberry from Sunday’s storms. Photo credit: Lindsay Rodriguez

The combination of heat, humidity, and a well-defined Atlantic coast sea breeze triggered the first round of severe weather on Sunday in North Florida. A complex of strong storms developed along a line from Lake City to Crescent City by mid-afternoon.  This complex drifted south and produced wind gusts close to 60 MPH, confirmed reports of penny to nickel sized hail, and numerous cloud to ground lightning strikes through Clay, Putnam, Bradford and eastern Marion counties.  Closer to sunset, another disturbance moved out of the panhandle and interacted with rain-cooled boundaries from the earlier storms to ignite new severe thunderstorms along and just west of the I-75 corridor.  These storms produced intense cloud-to-ground lightning, very heavy rain, pea to marble size hail, and the winds estimated at close to 60 mph that caused considerable damage.

We covered the severe weather event live on WRUF-TV and tracked the storms in real-time on WRUFWeather.com. We encourage everybody to seek shelter indoors and away from windows during a thunderstorm.   And we always appreciate you safely sending in your reports or photos of any damage.  The easiest way for us to pass those along is through Twitter.  Use #WeatherTogether and send them to @WRUFWeather.  You can also contact us via email, Facebook,

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Recent Heavy Rain Likely Cause of Sinkhole in Alachua County

A large sinkhole opened in a field Monday near Newberry Road in Jonesville next to the Campus USA Credit Union.  Alachua County Environmental Protection Director Chris Bird said he heard the sinkhole may have opened up on a farm, but is not certain. Bird is still waiting for the field report to come back, but said sometimes the weight of the rainwater in certain areas can become concentrated and cause the ground to collapse. He added that sometimes collapse can occur in within storm water basins, especially in the western parts of the county.

Sinkholes are formed by erosion, much like when sand erodes on a beach. When water from the aquifer or water from excess rainfall seeps into the ground, oxygen from the water combines with limestone in the ground to form an acid. This acid helps to eat away and erode limestone and other layers below the Earth’s surface. Once enough erosion occurs under the surface, and the weight of the surface becomes too much for the ground to hold, a sinkhole forms. When excess amounts of rainfall occur, like what happened this past weekend in Gainesville, the excess rain speeds up the erosion process.

Thankfully, WRUF Weather is forecasting a nice stretch of dry weather for a few days, which will hopefully mitigate the current situation and keep more from forming.

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Update: Welcome Break in Rain and Humidity Starts Late Monday

UPDATE:  We’ve added a chance of showers to the forecast Monday, primarily between 10am and 3pm.  The front mentioned below has been pushing in a little slower than previous forecast data had suggested, and we likely will have one more brief round of rain before the drier air surges in Monday evening.

It was a soggy and stormy end to the month of may in North Florida. An area of low pressure stationed to our west working in tandem with the afternoon sea breezes made for a noisy start to the rainy season. This added moisture and lift caused the typical afternoon showers to become severe thunderstorms at times. We saw heavy downpours everyday, hail on Sunday and Thursday, a tornado warning on Monday, and some heavy flooding on Friday, which brought the afternoon commute to a halt on the western side of Gainesville. Lightning even sparked a fire at an apartment complex in the Fort Clarke area Thursday, destroying all units inside.  What a week!

As we kick off the month of June, though, North Floridians will get a brief respite from nature’s fury.  An unusually strong “backdoor” front will slide southwestward on Sunday. Most fronts move in from the west, but occasionally they can sneak in from almost the opposite direction, thus the name.  The front arriving Sunday night is what helped to trigger Sunday afternoon’s round of showers and thunderstorms, some producing brief episodes of heavy rain.  By early Monday, a northeast wind kicks in and high pressure builds to the north. Drier air will filter in and stick around until Wednesday. We’ll have three straight days of pleasant, sunny weather. It won’t even be that hot, as the northerly flow will help to temper our highs in the upper 80′s, certainly bearable by Floridian standards.  The humidity will drop considerably as well, only adding to the more comfortable feel to the atmosphere, especially in the mornings and evenings.

Enjoy the beautiful dry weather, because the rainy season and hurricane season, are only just getting started. Spotty afternoon thunderstorms return Thursday and Friday. Then next weekend, the WRUF Weather Team has its eyes glued on the Gulf of Mexico as we track the possibility of a low pressure system developing and bringing some significant rainfall to North Florida. That’s still several days away, so remember to tune in to WRUF-TV for the latest updates everyday, or watch us right here on our website.

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Storms Possible Memorial Day Weekend in North Florida

By on May 24th, 2014

Relief from the heat of the past couple of days will arrive in the form of showers and thunderstorms during Memorial Day weekend. Temperatures have been in the low to mid 90′s this past week, with heat indices nearing the 100° mark. Starting on Sunday, a front from the north will approach the area and begin to increase rain chances.

Times for showers and thunderstorms and likelihood shown above.

Ahead of the activity on Sunday afternoon, temperatures will warm quickly and a heat index will still exist in the mid-90s ahead of a “cool down” from the rain. Showers and storms on Sunday arrive in the afternoon hours in parts of inland North Florida with the highest chances near and just west of the I-75 corridor. Some of these storms have the potential to be strong with the main threats being small hail and damaging winds.

 

 

On Monday the sea breezes from the Atlantic coast and the Gulf coast will move inland and collide near the I-75 corridor, producing showers and thunderstorms for Memorial Day. Embedded thunderstorms could produce lighting as well as the potential for damaging winds.

 

 

 

WRUF Weather will be tracking the showers and thunderstorms on www.WRUFWeather.com where you can track the storms with us using the Personal Storm Tracking tool. We will also provide up to date information on where these storms are on our Twitter account @WRUFWeather.

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Why “One” is the Only Number that Matters

Every year, we hear the forecast.  Multiple forecasts, in fact.  So many numbers.  So many messages.  But officials say there’s really only one thing to remember: “It only takes one”.

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) released their forecast for the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season today, predicting a “near-normal or below-normal” year.  This follows other private forecaster’s outlooks for below-normal activity earlier in the spring.  The likely development of El Niño this summer is the main driver of this year’s forecast, which typically correlates to fewer and weaker storms in the Atlantic Basin.

Officials and emergency managers in the State of Florida warn residents, however, that a seasonal forecast can be misleading.

National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Rick Knabb

“Overall seasonal activity does not correlate to landfall impacts.  Even in below average years, people die.”

In his address at the annual Governor’s Hurricane Conference last week, National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Rick Knabb pointed out that even in last year’s relatively weak season, there were dozens of fatalities and multiple landfalls in the country of Mexico.  He referenced many seasons where the overall number of storms were not related to the impacts of landfalling systems, most explicitly in 1992 and 1983.  Andrew and Alicia were the only major hurricanes in those years, yet they caused catastrophic damage in south Florida and southeast Texas.  Conversely, 2010 was an extremely active season in the Tropical Atlantic when 12 hurricanes formed, 5 of them major, yet none hit the United States directly.

Knabb went on to point out that Floridians are at risk every year from multiple hazards of tropical storms and hurricanes in the state of Florida. “No matter where it is you live, no matter what the seasonal forecasts say, no matter what last year was like or what the last ten years have been like, no matter how long you’ve lived here; you could experience wind or water hazards that could be life threatening this year.”

The Director of FEMA, Craig Fugate, is no stranger to hurricanes and the impact they can have on Florida. He was the state’s acting emergency management director during the infamous 2004 season, also a year when El Nino conditions were expected to develop.  Florida was dealt significant impacts from four hurricanes that year, three crossing the state as a Category 3 or higher, or Major Hurricane.  He echoes the same message.

Director of FEMA Craig Fugate

“If you go back in history, there’s been no part of Florida’s coast that has not been hit by hurricanes. There’s no part of the state that’s more than 100 miles from the coast.  Seasonal forecasts don’t mean anything. If you live in Florida, you better know what to do.”

New technology could make it easier for residents to understand the hazards an approaching storm could pose this year, especially if they are near a coastline but not necessarily right along the coast.  A new Storm Surge Inundation map will be released by The National Hurricane Center in advance of every storm.  GIS tools make this map especially useful, as it will better depict which neighborhoods, some miles from the coast, that could be flooded by a storm surge and how high the water could rise above ground level for that particular location.

But even with the new tools and a forecast for a relatively “mild” season, many Floridians are likely complacent. The last time a hurricane hit the state, YouTube and Facebook were just a year old and Twitter didn’t even exist. For a state that averages one landfall every other year yet hasn’t seen one since 2005, probabilities suggest Florida is now overdue.

Brian Koon, Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, says the risk to Floridians has not changed.  “We’re going to get hurricanes in the future. It’s imperative that Floridians take hurricane season seriously and prepare accordingly.”

The message from officials this year is clear. Updated forecasts and new technology won’t keep Floridians safe. It’s up to the citizens to act, get a plan, prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  Fugate ended his comments with this suggestion:

“If you have a plan and you know what you’re doing, enjoy the summer.”

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Warm and Dry Week Ahead for North Florida

By on May 19th, 2014

The unseasonably cooler weather we enjoyed this past weekend may have been one of the more pleasant weekends in recent memory, but it will soon be a distant memory as summertime heat and humidity return by week’s end.

TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY

Our dry weather over the past few days has been largely attributed to high pressure over the Gulf of Mexico. This area of high pressure will start to weaken and be overtaken by high pressure moving down from the Mid-Atlantic states on Tuesday. Light winds from the Northeast will help to keep our airmass dry. Humidity will remain low while temperatures remain in the upper 80′s on Tuesday and return to 90 on Wednesday. The high pressure will eventually plant over the Atlantic Gulf Stream on Wednesday before sliding off towards the Atlantic by the end of the day.

A WARM END TO THE WEEK

After high pressure over the Atlantic moves away, a new area of high pressure over the Gulf will take over on Thursday. As the Gulf high strengthens, winds will shift from an easterly wind to a westerly wind, which will move warm and more humid air over North Central Florida. The warmest day of the week will be Friday, with temperatures near 94 by the end of the day. The absence of cloud cover and rainfall through Saturday will make for a clear, albeit warm start to the weekend. Our temperatures will cool down to around 90 for Sunday as a front approaches, but the front could interact with the sea breeze in the afternoon allowing for showers in the afternoon on Sunday.

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Damage Reports from Storms Moving Through North Florida

By on May 15th, 2014

A strong late season cold front is moving through North Florida on Thursday. A flash flood warning was in effect for Dixie and Lafayette counties after receiving heavy rainfall overnight and showers once again in the morning hours. Heavy rain will continue to fall through the early evening hours, so rainfall accumulations will continue to increase. This is a snap shot of rainfall estimates from Thursday at noon.

WRUF Storm Track Radar rainfall estimates from Thursday

This system has triggered reports of storm damage as early as 8AM on Thursday in several counties. These are reports passed along from the National Weather Service:

Flagler County:

  • In St. Augustine, report of wind gust of 41 mph.

Columbia County:

  • An NWS Employee reports a Tornado at 9:18am in Wellborn with significant wind damage done to a barn and minor damage to home on the same property.  Many large trees have been uprooted.

Alachua County:

  • Lightning strike resulted in a boat catching on fire with significant damage reported.
  • Wind damage resulted in a downed tree at northwest 8th avenue and 10th street.
  • GRU reports storms caused power outages in around 2,100 homes on the west side of Gainesville.
  • In Gainesville there was an observation of 2.36 inches of rain in one hour.
  • In La Crosse there was an observation of 2.60 inches of rain in one hour.

Gilchrist County:

  • Wind damage from a thunderstorm knocked down a tree on county road 341 just south of county road 340 near the city of Bell.

Dixie County:

  • In Cross City 6.00 of rain fell over one lane of Highway 19.

Suwannee County:

  • Heavy rain flooded and closed the intersection of county road 49 and 114th terrace.
  • In downtown Live Oak localized street flooding caused areas to be barricaded.
  • In Obrien, water crossed the roadway and caused a large hole to begin to form in the middle of the road.
  • In Branford several roads were closed due to flooding
  • At the Ivey Memorial Park there was water reported at picnic table level.
  • In Live Oak heavy rain fell with a of 4 inches in 24 hours.

Track the storms at www.WRUFWeather.com where the latest storm damage reports will be passed along. Send your storm reports to weather@wruf.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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