It has been quite a run when it comes to all the wild and rainy weather and when I say "run" it is not just because today will be our 17th consecutive day with rain in the area. A lot of folks have been running from alligators that have infested many areas that have been swamped with flood waters. The picture above shows one of the many gators spotted around the area over the last couple weeks in places they usually are not found. This was a seven foot alligator spotted just a few feet from a West Side business last week on its new waterfront property. Some areas have had close to 20 inches of rain so far this month, especially to the south of Jacksonville and I could not find a wetter month in the record books since records have been kept. Even though the airport has had 13.51" and it looks like it will fall short of the all-time monthly rainfall record of 14.81 inches it does not matter. Nobody lives at the airport. The real weather story is this is the wettest month ever for most of us here in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine areas. It has been like a monsoon out there that you would normally find in India. The rising waters have forced not just alligators but many snakes them from their normal habitats. Some gators showed up in some of the flood waters at Clark's Fish Camp in Mandarin this week and they were in no mood to order gator tail. The huge Town Center shopping area near UNF had its power knocked out for about an hour yesterday due to some unruly snakes that have had enough of this weather.
Be on the outlook for more gators, snakes, and thunderstorms today! We are not done yet believe it or not. The Storm Prediction Center has areas from downtown Jacksonville northward in a slight risk for severe weather and the outline above may not cover the entire area but I think we will all have to keep a close eye to the sky by late today and even overnight. So expect the storms to come a little later today and the storms that due develop could bring some damaging winds and more dangerous lightning across the area like we saw yesterday that exploded a tree near Green Cove Springs. We average about 90 thunderstorm days per year here in Jacksonville so it is easy to let your guard down as they come through the area. Remember all storms are dangerous and today you need to pay extra close attention to the thunderstorms that fire up because these storms will be working with a few extra ingredients that lead to stronger storms here in Florida. Notice the latest CAPE values (convective available potential energy). The higher these values and the more reds and whites you see on the map below the more likely you will see severe thunderstorm warnings.
If you have walked and outside you can cut the air with a knife due to dewpoints in the 70s. This sauna-like atmosphere can give way to updrafts that build thunderstorms by carrying up to 10,000 tons of water laloft. Adding to the instability is our strongest front in weeks on the way along with a slug of dry air in the mid-levels. This drier air will cause the atmosphere to overturn and allow our updrafts to really rocket upward. I can easily see 50,000 foot plus tops developing on these thunderstorms today. The good news is that better days are ahead and we will see our driest pattern setting up in three weeks along with our first 90 degree days since May 9th on the way for the weekend. Just rememer the sunscreen with a sunburn possible this weekend in as little as 15 minutes as we dry out and the Sunshine State of Florida finally lives up to its name.
This is a good reminder that the sun angle is so strong and high in the sky it gave way to a rare phenomenon the Jacksonville sky off Baymeadows Way on Wednesday called a fire rainbow. Now my camera did not capture this amazing sight. It only lasted a brief minute after I first spotted it. By time I pulled off the Interstate it was gone. But at least I did capture a picture of the group of clouds that helped briefly light up the sky like I have never seen before. The cirrus clouds making that "C" shape is where I saw a the bright glow of orange, red, and blue. I checked all of the requirements to see a fire rainbow and the conditions matched up perfectly. You need a high sun angle which I had in the early afternoon. You have to have cirrus clouds....check! The cirrus clouds seemed to be debris clouds from developing thunderstorms to our south and west. These were not the typical wispy cirrus clouds I am used to seeing. The third thing you need are for ice crystals to be aligned at a perfect 90 degree angle along with the sunlight entering and exiting the ice crystals at just the right angle. It is like what you would need for a perfect storm to form but in this case it was the perfect rainbow that formed. I did go through several fire rainbow pictures and this one below looks most like what I saw.
This picture does not really tell the whole story and I know it was the first time I have ever seen one of these rainbows and I hope you get a chance to someday as well. The silver lining is finally here in our Jacksonville sky as I think we totally dry out over the weekend and our next chance of any significant rain after today and tonight would not be until next week. The same front bringing us the big change has made it through Atlanta with beautiful results. Get used to seeing fair weather clouds like you see below over our backyards.
Bring it on! We are all ready for the sunshine. Now for my Midwest friends the same northwest flow helping to dry us out here in Florida will bring a couple weak disturbances your way. The first one will arrive late today and this evening with a pop up shower or thunderstorm. Watch for some small hail with the cooler air aloft. On Saturday the second disturbance moves through in the morning and early afternoon but I think most of the rain will stay south of Interstate 74. So all in all a great weekend from Florida to Indiana is on the way. I know I am looking forward to the Sail Jacksonville festivities and the fireworks on Saturday night at 9:45 p.m. The good news is we are talking man-made fireworks for once.
Have a great weeknd and I am working on adding forecast video to go on this blog that will fill in all the important forecast details. This is still a work in progress and I am looking forward to this blog going national in the next couple of weeks and reaching a whole lot more folks. I appreciate all my Midwest friends keeping in touch and I love reading your posts every day and of course the pictures. Here is a nice bright picture sent in by Justin New that tells our weather story this weekend very nicely. It may not be a fire rainbow but it is quite impressive! Developing....