Saturday, April 2, 2011

Florida's most tornadic week in 3 years briefly turns tame

Saturday, April 2, 2011

This picture from the National Weather Service near Tampa sums up Florida's roughest weather week outside of tropical storm Faye since March of 2008. On March 7, 2008 we had about two dozen tornadoes in Florida located mainly across the First Coast including southeast Georgia. Unfortunately there were two fatalities in Lake City. This time around the brunt of the severe weather hit Central Florida where there was more instability. You see this complex of apartments was turned into what looks like a damaged doll house by nature. Notice a few trees around the worst of the damage are standing unscathed which happens many times during tornadoes around their wind vortices. Wind estimates place this tornado as an EF 1 with wind speeds near 100 mph. It was one of a staggering 9 tornadoes reported across the Florida peninsula this week based on the latest data. In all Florida ended up with 117 storm reports. This included 97 wind reports with wind gusts of 58 mph or higher, 11 hail reports nickel-sized or bigger, and the 9 tornadoes. To show you the magnitude of the storm, Tampa and southwest Florida known as Florida's tornado alley see about 6 to 8 tornadoes per year and they saw that in only two day this week.

Here in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine area we are counting our blessings with only minor and isolated damage in St. Johns County as wind gusts near 61 mph hit areas from highway 207 and Interstate 95 eastward to the beach. There were some trees down and about 250 power outages in all but the good news is everybody is safe and sound. We had a few pea sized hailstones that fell here in downtown Jacksonville that I stored away in our freezer. Yes, if you work at First Coast news please do not use this as ice in your drinks. Use the ice in the ice tray please!

Yes, your only live radar did a great job being the first to show the storms that quickly intensified near St. Augustine. Today your only radar without delay will make your day! In the wake of this wild weather today looks terrific with partly to mostly sunny skies with highs near 80. The good news is 80 degree weather should go all the way to the beach with a west wind holding back those cooler sea breezes at 10 to 20 mph. The Taste of St. Augustine looks delectable in more than one way!

Boaters can loosen those big knots on the boats. There will be a light inland chop and no advisories. It was also a rough boating week so we have certainly earned this smooth sailing weather. Seas will only be at 2 to 4 feet with the four footers located well offshore. If you are heading to the Clay County Fair or the Blues at the Beach the blue skies will be a perfect compliment! This past week was like an April Fool's joke that would not go away but nature finally gets it right and here is why.

You can thank high pressure in control for the nice sunny change and it is good to see our old friend which is our most common weather maker in Florida throughout the year coming home for at least a couple days. But it is April and the pattern is moving fast so this is just a quick visit. Check out the howling jet stream across the country.

This is what I call a highly amplified progressive pattern. Here in Florida the peak of our tornado season is February and March but it continues into at least the first part of April. Many times we have to watch these strong polar jet streams carefully. They tend to energize our thunderstorms and can turn them into super cells or mesocyclones which we saw this past week in a hurry. These super cells are known to produce large hail, damaging wind and tornadoes. The timing at this point looks like it will hold off until after the weekend for us here at home. This storm system will be so cranked up we could at least tie a record high of 90 on Monday in its warm sector. You see the jet stream starts igniting the atmosphere as soon as late Sunday. The yellow shaded areas can expect an outbreak of severe weather.

We will have to keep our eyes to the sky. Our latest weather team model runs are showing this being easily the biggest severe weather outbreak of Spring for the USA. It will impact at least 150 million people across no fewer than 20 states. It will be a quick-moving system and will impact us here on the First Coast Monday night into Tuesday so make sure to stay tuned and I will have numerous updates for you on the tube and here on the web. See you soon and enjoy the nice weather while you can. I will also post the big rains from this past week and have a drought update for you!

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