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Risk of severe weather for the eastern viewing area Thursday

Published: Mar. 15, 2021 at 11:11 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 18, 2021 at 12:50 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Conditions were improving in the western-half of the Big Bend and Southwest Georgia around noon Thursday, but the squall line was moving into the I-75 corridor where tornado watches were in effect.

A new tornado watch was issued for Clinch, Echols, Hamilton and Suwannee counties until 6 p.m. Thursday. The older tornado watch was allowed to expire for many western and central counties, but was still in effect elsewhere until 1 p.m.

There were reports of thunderstorm wind gusts mainly in the 40- to 50-mph range in some parts of the viewing area - mainly along the Franklin and Wakulla county coastline. A report of a tree over power lines in Fort Braden was sent to the National Weather Service Thursday morning. Trees and power lines were also reported down in Tallahassee along St. Augustine Road near Williams Road.

A tornado warning was issued earlier Thursday morning in Early County, just north of the viewing area. There were reports of trees down between Blakely and Jakin at around 7:35 a.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

A mixed-bag setup of wind shear and instability will keep the threat of damaging winds, hail, and an isolated tornado in place as the squall line advances east. Heavy rain will also be a concern for motorists.

The line is forecast to leave the viewing area early Thursday afternoon followed by a clearing sky and a southwest to westerly breeze. Wind gusts (outside of thunderstorms) was over 20 mph in a few locations with sustained winds ranging from 5 to 20 mph. A clearer sky is in the forecast for Thursday night with lows in the upper 40s to near 50.

This story was updated to add the Tallahassee damage report, and to add Hannah’s video forecast.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A new tornado watch was issued Thursday morning to include most of the viewing area as a potent line of showers and thunderstorms moved closer into the western area.

The new tornado watch is in effect until 1 p.m. Thursday, but excludes Suwannee, Hamilton, Clinch and Echols counties. The old watch for Miller and Seminole counties remained in effect until 9 a.m.

A storm system that brought multiple tornadoes in the South Wednesday is forecast to continue its eastward advancement. A cold front was moving through Mississippi, but the a squall line was well ahead of the front and moving through Southeast Alabama and the Florida Panhandle as of 7 a.m. There were multiple tornado warnings issued Thursday morning in the Panama City area with wind gusts as high as 82 mph recorded at the airport.

Deepening surface pressure was noted by the Storm Prediction Center, hinting at a developing small-scale surface low over Southwest Alabama. Such a low would improve the wind field for developing rotating thunderstorms.

The atmosphere still is prime for a level 2 risk of severe weather for the entire viewing area. Damaging wind, hail, and an isolated tornado or two can’t be ruled out.

Stay with the Pinpoint Weather Team for the latest throughout the day.

This story was updated to change the tornado watch expiration time as well as the warnings to the west of the viewing area.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The same storm system that was moving through the Deep South and bringing a high threat of tornadoes Wednesday will move east and bring a threat of severe weather to the Big Bend and South Georgia Thursday.

A vigorous trough of low pressure aloft over the Midwest was helping to maintain and strengthen a 1000-millibar surface low over Oklahoma. An attached front was stretched over eastern Texas with a line of showers and thunderstorms ahead of that. With abundant wind shear, good instability and upper-level help, a high risk of severe weather was in place over parts of Mississippi and Alabama. For more details on the Deep South threat, a sister station in Montgomery, Ala. has more details and can be found here.

Storm Prediction Center's severe weather outlook for Thursday, March 17 as of Wednesday...
Storm Prediction Center's severe weather outlook for Thursday, March 17 as of Wednesday afternoon.(WCTV Pinpoint Weather)

THURSDAY

A squall line is forecast to approach the Apalachicola and Chattahoochee rivers around or after dawn Monday. This could be an issue for those going to work or school Thursday morning. By that time, guidance models are already hinting at marginal energy, and sufficient wind shear in the lower levels. Also, the large-scale models have been persistent since Tuesday of a low-level jet setting up over the Southeast Thursday morning with the strongest winds over South Georgia. This jet would add more wind shear in the lower levels of the atmosphere, and aid in developing stronger thunderstorms that can produce tornadoes.

The Storm Prediction Center shifted the level-3 risk farther south to include South Georgia while the Big Bend is at a lower level-2 risk, according to their update issued early Wednesday afternoon. The hazards remain to be damaging winds, hail, and tornadoes.

The squall line is forecast to move eastward and potentially arrive at places like Tallahassee and Thomasville late morning or around noon, and approach the I-75 corridor in the early to mid afternoon.

Everyone in the Big Bend and South Georgia should be weather aware Thursday, and keep an eye on the forecasts. As a precaution, those with NOAA Weather Radios should ensure they are in working order and set the alert mode on standby. Also, be sure to have the WCTV Pinpoint Weather App to be alerted of approaching severe weather.

This story was updated to make slight adjustments to the estimated times of arrival, and add Chief Meteorologist Mike McCall’s video forecast.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - WEDNESDAY. The threat of severe weather for the Big Bend and South Georgia will be very low, but it will be a different story in the Deep South as a level-4 risk of severe weather was assigned by the Storm Prediction Center. Hail, damaging winds and “significant” tornadoes are possible in places like Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama. Additional details can be found from a sister station in Montgomery, Ala. by clicking here.

The Storm Prediction Center's severe weather outlook for Wednesday, March 17 as of Tuesday...
The Storm Prediction Center's severe weather outlook for Wednesday, March 17 as of Tuesday morning.(WCTV Pinpoint Weather)

A squall line is forecast to develop ahead of a cold front and move eastward though the early morning hours Thursday. Guidance models have appeared to settle on the line approaching the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola rivers as soon as around dusk. The risk of an overnight severe weather threat is diminishing, but it’s not zero closer to the river basin.

THURSDAY. The squall line is forecast to enter the viewing area from the west in the morning and push eastward through the rest of the day. The European model is the slowest solution with the line entering the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola rivers late morning while the GFS, High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) and the in-house GRAF models have it arriving around dawn. For now, this meteorologist is leaning toward the earlier solution.

The Storm Prediction Center's severe weather outlook for Thursday, March 18 as of Tuesday...
The Storm Prediction Center's severe weather outlook for Thursday, March 18 as of Tuesday morning.(WCTV Pinpoint Weather)

The Storm Prediction Center is going with a level 3 risk of severe weather for the northeastern portions of the viewing area - including Valdosta, Hahira, Berlin, Morven, Adel and Moultrie. The rest of the viewing area is under a level 2 risk of severe weather. All modes - hail, damaging winds and tornadoes - are possible.

Potent mid-level lift, increased low-level moisture, some instability during the daylight hours, and an enhanced low-level jet (which will be the strongest in South Georgia) will aid in the severe weather threat.

Confidence is increasing with the timing and scope of the threat, but little things can still change. Keep checking back with details on the forecast over the next two days. As a precaution, those with NOAA Weather Radios should ensure they are in working order and set the alert mode on standby. Also, be sure to have the WCTV Pinpoint Weather App to be alerted of approaching severe weather.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - An active weather pattern will bring multiple days of some risk of severe weather to parts of the Big Bend and South Georgia starting Tuesday.

A storm system that was over the Midwest Monday morning was pushing a cold front as far south as Louisiana and Mississippi. This front is forecast to move eastward Monday, but become more west to east in orientation by Tuesday. Rain chances will be 10% at best in the Big Bend and South Georgia Monday with highs reaching into the 80s again in the inland locations with 70s on the coast.

TUESDAY. The Storm Prediction Center has placed the most-northern portion of the viewing area under a level-1 risk of severe weather for Tuesday, according to their Monday afternoon update. This includes Colquitt. All modes of severe weather - an isolated tornado, damaging winds and hail - are the possible hazards.

The severe weather outlook for Tuesday from the Storm Prediction Center as of Monday afternoon.
The severe weather outlook for Tuesday from the Storm Prediction Center as of Monday afternoon.(WCTV Pinpoint Weather)

With the front to the north, warm and moist air will stick around along with minimal wind shear to leave a very low-end risk for parts of the viewing area. The severe parameters decrease after dusk Tuesday, leaving a much lower threat overnight.

WEDNESDAY. A second trough of low pressure that was over the Southwest U.S. Monday is forecast to move eastward, and is expected to develop a potent low pressure system and cold front at the surface. This will move into the Deep South during the daytime hours on Wednesday, bringing a level-3 risk of severe weather from Arkansas southeast to Alabama with a potential of significant tornadoes in the region.

The Day 3 severe weather outlook from the Storm Prediction Center as of Monday morning.
The Day 3 severe weather outlook from the Storm Prediction Center as of Monday morning.(WCTV Pinpoint Weather)

The cold front will advance eastward Wednesday into Wednesday night. The two big global models started to agree with each other with respect to timing as of the latest runs Monday morning, giving a little more confidence in the timing forecast. The rain and storms ahead of the cold front may arrive to the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola rivers before dawn Thursday.

THURSDAY. A squall line is forecast to enter the western viewing area before or around dawn Thursday. The Storm Prediction Center’s extended 4-day outlook has the entire viewing area under what’s equivalent to a level-2 risk of severe weather. All modes of severe weather are on the table.

The extended severe weather outlook for Thursday, March 18 from the Storm Prediction Center as...
The extended severe weather outlook for Thursday, March 18 from the Storm Prediction Center as of Monday morning.(WCTV Pinpoint Weather)

The American GFS is going a little higher with the convective energy in the western counties Thursday morning compared to the European model. Regardless, there is enough low-level wind shear and energy to keep the potential of strong to severe thunderstorms in the forecast. The line of showers and thunderstorms will pass through the viewing area through the daylight hours from west to east. The front should exit the viewing area by Thursday evening, ushering cooler and drier air afterward.

Despite the models beginning to agree with each other with respect to timing, things can still change over the next several days with respect to timing details and threat levels. Keep checking back for forecast updates. As a precaution, those with NOAA Weather Radios should ensure they are in working order and set the alert mode on standby Wednesday night into early Thursday morning. Also, be sure to have the WCTV Pinpoint Weather App to be alerted of approaching severe weather.

This story was updated with the new Day 2 outlook from the SPC.

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