Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Drought to Deluge & Funnels! Severe Weather Season off to a Booming Start

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What a night it was and the good news is everybody is safe and sound. It helped having First Coast News Live Doppler Radar or Jacksonville's only real-time radar without a two minute delay. Yesterday some of those severe thunderstorm cells were moving east-northeast at 50 mph and it did a great job keeping up to whatever nature was dishing out. Even better the those 100 mph winds over Jacksonville yesterday did not reach the ground. But they did cause some rotating severe thunderstorms. You can see the funnel cloud spotted near St. Augustine by Steven Hayes. This prompted a tornado warning. The good news is the funnel cloud did not reach the ground. Our weather team zoomed in on this cell with street-level mapping. Check it out above.

Jacksonville's only Live Doppler radar did a great job showing that that it was not only forming that classic hook you see with tornadoes but that it was quickly weakening. I am glad we were the first to put folks in the St. Augustine area at ease. That is what is all about. l quickly formed and dissipated.About one in ten of these whirling dervish clouds reach the ground but not yesterday, so we are certainly counting our blessings. We are especially lucky because the six tornadoes reported around Florida did not occur in our viewing area. Check out the latest reports on the tornadoes from the Storm Prediction Center. Every day is a weather action day for our weather team so make sure to stay tuned! This storm was a good reminder that severe weather season is underway.

There were also 75 mph wind gusts that tore through St. Petersburg, Florida. Here locally the highest wind gusts were closer to the 45 to 55 mph range. The other funnel cloud we had near Palm Coast also did not reach the ground and it was flooding that was the main problem at Flagler Beach as many areas had a month's worth of rain in 5 hours. Check out these impressive doppler reports.

McCoys Creek flooded and Jacksonville set a rainfall record for the date! The storm total reached 2.64" which was the heaviest rain since August 20-21st when we had 2.71" of rain. More importantly the rain wrapped up Jacksonville's first above average rainfall month since August! We had more rain in five hours than we had in the 3 months from October through December! WOW!! This ABOVE AVERAGE RAINFALL was forecasted here on the weather blog way back in early January which made it even more special for me. But, it was not all about celebrating when it came down to lightning with these storms. The most damage reported northeast Florida was from two lightning strikes. One lightning strike caused a house fire in Mandarin and the other earth-shaking strike was in Keystone Heights. This is another good reminder that lightning is the number one weather killer in Florida which is the lightning capital of the country. Severe Weather Awareness Week begins this coming up Sunday and we will review some more weather safety tips to keep you and your family safe. In the meantime, enjoy a much nicer pattern moving in and we may actually have our warmest stretch since November on the way. Yes, I better go get some tee times.

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