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A Tornado Watch has been issued for north and central Florida

A few tornadoes are possible Thursday along a squall line of thunderstorms approaching the Florida peninsula. Some of the storms will also be capable of producing wind damage as a powerful cold front moves through.

A Tornado Watch was issued for all of north and west-central Florida through 5 pm. The watch includes the cities of Jacksonville, Lake City, Gainesville, Ocala, Cedar Key, The Villages, Tampa, Sarasota and Fort Myers. The watch also stretches as far south as Lake County in Central Florida, and it might be expanded farther south and east later in the day depending on the progression of the storms.

Here are the latest most likely arrival times of the dangerous storms in the following corridors across Florida:

  • Lake City to Cedar Key: 10 am to 12 pm
  • Gainesville, Ocala to Tampa: 12 pm to 3 pm
  • Jacksonville to The Villages to Sarasota: 1 pm to 4 pm
  • St. Augustine to Orlando to Fort Myers: 3 pm to 7 pm
  • Melbourne to Naples: 5 pm to 10 pm
  • West Palm to Miami to Key West: 7 pm to 2 am

At 10:00 am Wednesday, radar data showed a line of storms stretching from Live Oak to just offshore of the Nature Coast. Atmospheric parameters are expected to become increasingly favorable for rotating cells along or just ahead of this line as it moves inland through north and central Florida Wednesday afternoon. Line segments embedded within the line may also tap into strong winds aloft, transferring those winds to the surface and producing damaging gusts up to 60 mph.

Strong thunderstorms are also expected across South Florida Thursday evening and overnight along the front. Damaging winds will remain the biggest hazard with any of the stronger cells, but heavy rainfall could also lead to localized flooding along the Gold Coast through the pre-dawn hours Friday morning.

The cold front responsible for the unsettled weather Thursday should be out of here on Friday, allowing for more northwesterly winds and much cooler, nicer weather to settle in across Florida for the weekend.

Sources include nearest National Weather Service office, National Hurricane Center, and the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network (@FloridaStorms).
Sources include nearby emergency management agencies, FEMA, and your local NPR affiliate. 
Sources include the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Highway Patrol and other nearby traffic information.

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Partners of the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network include: Florida's Division of Emergency Management, WDNA (Miami), WFIT (Melbourne), WMFE (Orlando), WFSU (Tallahassee), WGCU (Fort Myers), WJCT (Jacksonville), WKGC (Panama City), WLRN (Miami), WMNF (Tampa-Sarasota), WQCS (Fort Pierce), WUFT (Gainesville-Ocala), WUSF (Tampa), WUWF (Pensacola) and Florida Public Media.

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