A widespread area of low clouds developed early this morning in response to a moist easterly flow from the Atlantic Ocean. The strong late March sun angle was finally able to heat the ground enough to mix out the shallow layer of moisture in the lower part of the atmosphere early this afternoon. Now, mostly sunny skies cover the area, except along the Franklin County coast where the cooler shelf waters of Apalachee Bay are preventing the air temperatures from warming sufficiently to erode the cloud deck. An area of scattered showers has developed in Central Florida, between Orlando and Gainesville. It's possible that a stray shower or two will make it into the Suwannee Valley this evening, where convergence will be somewhat maximized in response to a late-developing seabreeze in Taylor county. Since almost everyone will miss out on any rain showers that can develop, the rain chance is only 10 percent tonight.
Low clouds and patchy fog should redevelop late tonight as the air cools and saturates. Like today, it will be a challenge to figure out exactly when we'll break out of the morning clouds. Present indications from our high-resolution models is that we'll start to see sunshine by midday in most areas, but a narrow pocket of low clouds could get stuck in parts of Wakulla, Franklin, Liberty, Gadsden and Leon Counties for a little longer as the low-level winds turn more to the south, acting to maintain a marine layer from Apalachee Bay. Mariners should be prepared sea fog and/or low stratus clouds, especially along the Franklin and Wakulla county coasts for much of the day. Once the sun breaks out over inland areas, a Gulf coast seabreeze is expected to develop and push northward. Meanwhile, the air is expected to become modestly to moderately unstable as mid 60s dewpoints advect northward from the Gulf. Our local WRF and Super Microcast models are forecasting late afternoon showers and thundershowers to develop in Southwest Georgia and areas west of Tallahassee in Florida along the Big Bend seabreeze front. Another area of showers is also forecast to develop by these same models in the Suwannee River Valley as the Taylor-Dixie county seabreeze moves northeastward into the early evening hours. We have a 30% rain chance in the forecast since the large-scale forcing will be weak, but we will have to watch trends carefully tomorrow for a possible increase in the rain chance. Still, more areas than not will miss out on the showers.
A cold front approaching from the northwest will weaken as it gets here on Wednesday, but it could be the focus for a couple of afternoon or evening showers or thundershowers once again. Since the front is not expected to move through our area, temperatures are expected to climb into the lower or mid 80s Wednesday through Friday. Slight rain chances are indicated Thursday and Friday as the front dissipates and the weak early season seabreeze becomes our only mechanism to generate showers.
The global models are starting to look more promising with a stronger system approaching from the west on Saturday. This could give us a much better chance of showers and thunderstorms. There are still some important differences in how the models handle energy moving eastward into California and dropping southward from Alaska. Until these differences are resolved, the rain chance will be 50 percent. As details become clearer, we will refine the forecast. But as it stands now, the highest probability of rain occurring in the next 5 days appears to be Saturday.