Sunday, May 8, 2011

Smoke storm choking Georgia-Florida border showing no signs of letting up & your weather score card for TPC!

May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day! While the smoke cleared out in most of northeast Florida as forecasted many were not as lucky especially from Nassau County northward today. Here is a picture from near St. George, Georgia taken by Ray King. He said the sky was a weird orange color through most of the day with flurries of ashes. Those ominous smoke clouds or pyrocumulus clouds looked more like approaching tornadoes according to Ray. Yes, our Live Doppler Radar was picking up on the smoke clouds as well but the good news is we had no fire tornadoes or fire devils reported near the Okefenokee Swamp where the fire has now charred 45,000 acres.  With no heavy soaking rain in the forecast this fire will likely continue to grow and cause problems throughout the week. Evacuations of some homes cannot be ruled out.

Remember back in 1998 we actually did have fire devils in St. Johns County whipped up by a large wildfire converging with a warm updraft of air in windy conditions. Some grew to 50 feet and uprooted some trees. In some extreme cases fire devils can have destructive wind speeds of 100 mph and last up to 20 minutes. I am not expecting a repeat. In fact the wind speeds for much of this week will remain less than 10 mph. The bottom line is we need rain and we need it soon even if it is TPC Week! My car still had ashes on it from yesterday but today was all about my wonderful wife who means everything to my family and three daughters. I made sure she took the day off and the kids and I took advantage of the nice sunny weather by washing her car. High temperatures reached 92 degrees in my neighborhood so it was a great way to stay cool!

It was certainly a team effort and yes I did help out my three girls that are getting just too tall and growing up too quickly by taking car of those tires and of course the roof! I hope all Mom's had a wonderful day  and if you notice the skies were nice and blue south of town but compare and contrast this with a picture in Hilliard by Crystal Brown were the smoke was so thick today it held temperatures down into the middle 80s.

This shot is amazing  because the smoke is so impressive it looks more like a dust storm.  Patty Martin captured some more interesting optical effects caused by the smoke. Check it out!

This was taken in the St.Marys and Kingsland, Georgia area.  You see the orange sun sky. Now keep in mind tonight be on the outlook for an orange crescent waxing moon like we saw last night. My latest smokecast does have the smoke shifting farther south due to a wind shift which may cause problems with the morning commute not only in Georgia but areas as far south as Clay and St. Johns County.

The combination of smoke and fog may reduce visibilities in some areas to less than a quarter mile and we cannot rule out some road closings. Take it easy and stay alert.

 I captured this smoke cloud moving south just before sunset here at First Coast News. It was quite a daunting sight. Let's make sure to take it seriously. The other big story this week will be the TPC! Now it will not be the best weather for golf but it could be a lot worse.

It is a huge week for our First Coast News weather team. It is like our Super Bowl with the world's greatest golfers and visitors coming from all over the world coming to the TPC. I think overall we can give nature a grade that would come out close to par. But the hot weather and smoky conditions may make it feel more like a bogey at times, especially with heat index values near 100 by mid to late week. I broke down your best day being Thursday and gave it a birdie as a nice sea breeze keeps highs down in the middle to upper 80s. Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday look to be decent days as long as you find some shady spots and stay hydrated. Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday were given bogeys due to extreme heat and or better chances of rain. Nature needs to straighten up its swing or should I say jet stream. We still have more of a July flow which will bring temperatures to near record highs this week. We will have some rain showers and storms in the forecast but they should stay mainly west of Sawgrass. Sunday a front coming in from the west may increase our chances of thunderstorms even at the course.  Have a great week!

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