A storm system moving across Florida Thanksgiving Day might seem like a tropical storm to some. Relentless rain and gusty winds are expected from the Nature Coast to the First Coast from a non-tropical area of low pressure moving in from the Gulf of Mexico. The unsettled weather, while not as intense, will drift across central and south Florida Friday.
TIMING OF THE RAIN
Holiday travelers will enjoy pleasant weather Wednesday evening ahead of the storm, but conditions will be deteriorating quickly on the roadways overnight. The list below includes estimated arrival times of the steady rain and potential amounts through Friday night.
- Cedar Key – Wed 8 am (2-3″)
- Fort Myers – Thu 5 am (0.5 – 1″)
- Gainesville – Wed 10 pm (2-3″)
- Jacksonville – Thu 5 am (2-3″)
- Ocala – Wed 11 pm (1-2″)
- Orlando – Thu 4 am (1-2″)
- St. Augustine – Thu 6 am (1-3″)
- Sarasota – Thu 7 am (0.5 – 1″)
- Tampa – Wed 8 pm (1-2″)
The steady rain will taper off north of the I-4 corridor by Friday morning, but still be quite widespread across the southern half of Florida through Friday evening. The last drops of rain with this system will exit the state Friday night.
A WHOLE MONTH'S WORTH
In several cities across North Florida, an entire normal November’s rainfall will likely fall in just 24 hours. Widespread amounts of 1 to 2 inches are expected across an area of the peninsula bounded by I-4 and I-10, including the Big Bend and Nature Coast regions. Isolated amounts of 3 inches are possible roughly near a line from Cedar Key to Gainesville to Jacksonville. The heaviest rainfall totals will likely occur closer to both coastlines, where higher amounts of moisture will be transported inland.
BEACHES TO AVOID
In addition to the heavy rain, gusty winds and choppy seas will make it less than ideal to spend the holiday at many areas beaches. The worst conditions will be felt along the Gulf beaches from Sarasota to Panama City Thursday morning and midday, with only some improvement by early evening. Along the Atlantic Coast, conditions will be somewhat favorable for beach activities early in the day Thursday, but here too conditions will go downhill by afternoon, especially north of Cape Canaveral. Boating enthusiasts and beachgoers will have much better weather to enjoy by Saturday and Sunday.