A broad high pressure system dominates the Southeastern United States this morning. It is expected to swiftly move eastward into the Atlantic Ocean causing our winds to shift from the east this morning to the south later this afternoon. Many of the official observing airport sites saw a light freeze between 2 and 4 hours early this morning, except Moultrie, Bainbridge and Apalachicola. The chilly airmass will modify quickly as a middle and upper air ridge builds northward from Cuba toward Florida this weekend. I expect the mercury to get close to the 70-degree mark today and into the mid 70s away from the coast on Sunday afternoon. Despite the warm afternoons, a weak pressure gradient will keep the winds light under mostly clear skies and dry air tonight into early Sunday morning. It is therefore well within the realm of possibility that outlying areas will experience frost and perhaps a brief light freeze lasting less than 2 hours. This is not enough to concern us greatly in early February. Many areas (especially the urban centers such as downtown Tallahassee, Thomasville and Valdosta) will see lows closer to 40 degrees. There is some evidence in the model data that an ill-defined warm front lifting northward across the region on Sunday could generate sparse and brief light showers mainly to our east where low-level convergence is more pronounced. I have included a 10% chance (mostly for the Suwannee Valley and South-Central Georgia), but measurable rain seems awfully unlikely and we should all enjoy a splendid weekend for a change!
As lower layer moisture increases, we will be more susceptible to areas of fog Monday and Tuesday mornings, but the jury is still out as to whether we'll see widespread dense fog. If there is fog, skies should become partly to mostly sunny each day and temperatures will soar into the middle and upper 70s. Our southeastern Big Bend counties (away from the coast) could see the temperature get to 80 degrees!
Our next storm system is expected to arrive Tuesday night or Wednesday. The models are once again in very good agreement with regard to the path and timing of this storm, with the GFS and Canadian models a little faster than the UKMET. The ECMWF is somewhere in between, but I'm really grasping at straws here. The airmass is expected to become at least modestly unstable as strong deep-layer wind fields spread over the Ohio Valley and Tennessee Valleys as well as the deep south. Therefore, there is a threat of severe weather and the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK has placed us in a severe storm risk Tuesday night into early Wednesday. We will monitor this carefully, but as we saw with the last storm, the models can change their minds.
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