February 1, 2011---7 p.m.
Well I have some good news here today on the blog...it has been all doom and gloom with the historical storm update I did earlier. Despite our skies here over Jacksonville turning ominous this afternoon as you see above it does look like we will be the lucky ones when all is said and done. I have been talking to tons of folks in the Midwest, Kansas and the Northeast that wish they were here in Florida.
You can now see why. Rick Thomas who I dub the "weatherman" was out walking his dog just south of Kansas City and he almost got lost between all those big snowdrifts. They have had about a foot of snow and Rick who has been through a lot of storms will always remember this one. Thanks Rick! Stay warm and keep in touch from Jay hawk country. While this picture was being taken I felt like I was a million miles away as my kids were outside in shorts playing on their electric scooters and I even opened up our windows. The warm breezes even had a little touch of humidity but most of all it was comfortable. The good news is that humidity will not be bringing severe weather but just some needed rain showers. The big blizzard impacting several states across the country will stay about 1,200 miles north of Jacksonville. The 150 mph winds feeding the two to three inches of snow per hour will also stay well north of us. This means the severe weather that has brought numerous damage reports from Texas into extreme western Florida will weaken by time it arrives here tomorrow morning. There was an EF-1 tornado report confirmed in Oak Hill, Texas with two homes damaged. About three dozen wind damage reports of wind gusts near 60 mph have also been received. A tornado watch has been extended into far western Florida but with the monster storm quickly lifting north overnight this line will continue to weaken. We will not see a repeat of last week and since we are now in our severe weather season that is a big relief. We certainly can count our blessings. The bad news is the storm is lifting so far north that our rain amounts look more scattered and less than a quarter-inch. We could use a whole lot more. More rain chances will at least move our way late Friday into Saturday morning, hopefully bumping our weekly rainfall totals up to at least a half-inch.
Now we could wake up with a few rumbles of thunder but again the atmosphere will be much more stable since the front is moving through early in the morning and all the upper support is well north. This brings us to our severe weather tip of the day. Florida is certainly the lightning capital of the country with 1.4 million cloud to ground lightning strikes per year. We have the perfect breeding ground for lightning which plentiful moisture since we are on a peninsula. We also have plenty of heating and direct rays of sunlight. Sunburns occur here even in the middle of the winter. You add in the sea breeze that naturally forms and collides with all of our humidity and heat and you have all the ingredients needed for building cumulonimbus clouds that produce lightning. Lightning kills more Floridians each year than hurricanes. Most folks do not realize that it travels at half the speed of light or 93,000 miles per second, so my favorite saying is this.....when the thunder roars outdoors head indoors! You are in danger and have no time to play weatherman and if you are on the beach or by the pool your danger risk is increased ten-fold. Most people are in fact struck by lightning when it is not raining outside and half the lightning victims are hit after the storm has passed. Lightning travels outside the main parent cloud by up to 10 miles. Some day there will be lightning warnings issued and until there is make sure to tune in for the latest on Live Doppler radar to find out where the lightning is and where it is moving. We showed it quite a bit during last week's storms and remember even if there is no severe weather warnings and you hear thunder, you are in danger.
You have a safe evening and tomorrow is one of my favorite days of the year! Yes it is Ground Hog Day and I have my forecast all done. I will have a Ground Hog Day update tomorrow! I do not have time to fall asleep like Phil.....not with all the exciting weather we have every day in Florida and all across the country. Have a great night and thanks for reading.