May 28, 2011 Saturday
Your only live doppler radar got quite the workout last night. Mike shows us some of the golf ball size hail that melted in his hand. Severe thunderstorm warnings are issued when hail reaches .75" or nickel size. Yesterday the hail easily surpassed that with 1.75" or golf ball size hail. This can ding up cars and awnings and also cause shingle damage.
Curlita sent this picture in from Dunn Avenue showing how nature turned her lawn into what looks like a driving range. Our Live Doppler Radar did a good job of showing this large hail in the cloud that grew at times as large as grapefruit size hail. Luckily, it reached the ground much smaller thanks to our temperatures near 90 degrees. It could have been a lot worse. You put this set-up over the Midwest and we would have had much larger hail smashing windows and likely accumulating a few inches on the ground.
James confirms there was a brief light accumulation of hail in the World Golf Village. This large hail usually only occurs once our twice during the year here at home. Usually the atmosphere is too warm and moist for hail to reach the ground intact. But yesterday the freezing level was about 3,000 to 4,000 feet lower than it normally is and when you add in sea-breeze collisions with this cold pocket of air it was more than enough to generate strong updrafts that helped to coat the raindrops with layers of ice. The good news is we did see a nice heavy swath of rain along the Interstate 95 corridor with many areas in the .50" to 1" range. The bad news was the beaches and areas near highway 301 and westward were missed. Take a look at the rainfall.
That is right many areas were shut out like Macclenny and Keystone Heights. It is beginning to look a lot like summer here in Florida. This was only a stripe of heavy rainfall which is bad news for the abundant wildfires burning around the area. Today we will have a chance of a few more thunderstorms but they will be isolated in nature and mainly west of highway 301 as you can see on your Futurecast.
Today's thunderstorms will be more typical of Florida. They will be short-lived with the main threats of lightning and gusty winds near 40 mph. There could still be some marble size hail but it does look like nature's attic has already warmed up by 3 degrees since yesterday and with a higher freezing level it will be tough to find much hail that makes it to the ground.
The main weather concerns this weekend will not be thunderstorms as high pressure builds in from the Atlantic. It will be the wildfires and rip currents. A few roads including US 1 in Georgia may be closed north of Folkston due to smoke reducing visibilities to less than a mile. In Florida no road closures are expected but hazy, smoky skies are expected this afternoon especially in western Putnam, Clay, Bradford, Baker, and Union Counties.
Today the overall theme will be blue skies winning out and it looks like the forecast is on track based on this nice picture sent in on this Saturday morning from Palatka at the Blue Crab Fest. It is absolutely gorgeous on the St. Johns River. The finest things in life are free and nature is delivering. We have to include the Jazz fest going on here in Jacksonville which is free of charge and when you add in the nice sea breezes during the afternoon it does not get much better! What will make it feel even better is that highs today will be closer to 90 rather than 100 like we saw last weekend thanks to our onshore flow. One thing we do have to be careful of is increasing seas and rip currents this weekend. Today is the best boating day with 2-3 ft. seas but by Monday seas will build from 4-6 ft. and caution will be needed. Today make sure to enjoy the light river chop. While rip currents are not a concern today an increasing easterly wind and fetch over the Atlantic will cause moderate rip currents by Sunday. Break the grip of the rip by swimming parallel to shore. The water also looks murkier in a stronger runout and you can always ask a lifeguard about local conditions at the beach to help keep you and your family safe. Have a great weekend and do not forget the sunscreen!