Thursday, March 10, 2011
Nature's March mayhem continues with wind chills and frost concerns after the storms
March 10, 2011
What a night it was in the weather center and the good news is we had very little in the way of damage reports across the area outside a couple small trees and a bent railroad crossing arm you see above in Timuquana. There were wind gusts in most locations between 40 to 50 mph with the highest wind gust reported at the St. Augustine airport at 52 mph. Yes, tropical storm force winds blew through the area. We are counting our blessing especially after reviewing the plethora of wind damage reports over southwest Georgia, west Florida and Alabama with even tornadic activity reported in Escambia County. A young boy was struck by lightning in Okaloosa County inside his school! Apparently he was touching a light switch when there was a ton of lightning. Luckily, he is okay and I always do tell kids on my school talks never touch anything connected to power. Even your computers that are plugged in can be a danger. So we were keeping close track of that lightning for you yesterday that is for sure. You can see the light show below! One of these days I am convinced we will start issuing lightning warnings, but in the meantime you can always turn to us at First Coast News to find our where Florida's number one weather killer lightning is actually located. There is a good reason they call this the lightning capital of the world.
The one thing that likely saved our area from seeing the severe damaging storms was the fact we had a sea breeze move well inland and the storms that fired up along this boundary ahead of the main line helped stabilize the atmosphere. Also your strongest upper-level winds were still well back in western Florida. The main line of thunderstorms raced several hundred miles out in front of the main cold front which also helped it lose some of its punch as it moved east. But this line was impressive and we tracked it all the way from the French Quarter on Mardi Gras on Tuesday afternoon to our First Coast beaches by late Wednesday evening. Our Live Doppler radar was a valuable tool especially when you had storms popping up over the area and a strong line of storms racing our way at 40 mph. Here is a look at your two minute advantage which really was about a 5 mile or more advantage yesterday. Take a look.
While the National Weather Service radar was showing the main line of storms still back near Switzerland which is the white circle to the left while our Live Doppler radar had the storms bearing down on Interstate 95 and Durbin or the white circle to the right. This is a huge difference especially when you were getting calls from folks reporting ominous clouds and gusty winds. Your Only Live Doppler enabled us to do special storm scans and focus on the areas of most concern to make sure there was no rotation significant enough to reach the ground as a tornado. Time does save lives in severe weather and keeping people safe is our weather team's number one priority. Yes, we had a two minute advantage and then some yesterday. Everybody I spoke to this morning was all smiles that we missed out on the severe weather and got some needed rain. Even your very own Live Doppler radar was all smiles last night. Can you pick out the smiley face?
Rain amounts across the area are in the .50" to 1" rain with most of the beaches including St. Augustine in the .75" to 1" range which is even better news since these areas are in extreme drought. Lake City checked in with 1.15" while Folkston and Brunswick, Georgia had just over an inch of rain. This was our heaviest rain since February 10th!
Nature is not done just yet, there may be a price to pay for all this rain. You see the big dip in the jet stream that looks like something more out of January. Well it did help draw plenty of moisture out of the Gulf of Mexico but it will also usher in a brief blast of polar air as it moves east. Today you will need your jackets with wintry winds moving in and temperatures holding in the 60s. Tonight we will drop like a rock with lows in the middle to upper 30s. There will be too much wind for a frost or freeze but we will have wind chills in many location near freezing by morning! Yes, March mayhem has turned into an early April Fool's joke.
Tonight at 5, 5:30, and 6 we will also focus on frost chances on Saturday morning. There will be lighter winds in the area and right now I am thinking a light frost is possible especially for areas near Lake City and the Interstate 75 corridor closest to the area of high pressure moving in. It is all about location, location, location with this high pressure. If it happens to be farther east then I will extend the frost threat to at least the highway 301 corridor and interior southeast Georgia. The good news is temperatures should stay well above freezing along the river and beaches, but the forecast becomes much trickier the farther north and west you go. I will pinpoint this for you tonight and have the latest on the Gate River Run. I will check back with you with more answers and I have space shuttle Discovery fly-over pictures to post from Tuesday night.