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End of week severe threat to last several days over the Panhandle, North Florida

February 8, 2023

Severe thunderstorms could impact Florida’s Panhandle and northern peninsula over the next few days. In addition to excessive lighting and heavy rain rates, damaging winds and weak tornadoes will be possible from the strongest storm cells.

On Wednesday afternoon, surface high pressure and mid-level ridging were building over the eastern United States, producing clear skies and above average warmth. However, upstream over the Lower Mississippi Valley, a center of surface low pressure was intensifying. Clusters of strengthening thunderstorms continued to develop along the west-central Gulf Coast, and a shield of heavy rain was producing flash flooding over Arkansas and Missouri. This storm system is forecasted to slide eastward over the next few days and threaten North Florida and the Panhandle with severe thunderstorms.

Latest model guidance suggests that a broken line of thunderstorm clusters will inch toward the westernmost Panhandle overnight Wednesday into Thursday morning. These cells will likely impact locations from Pensacola east to Panama City during the day Thursday, before arriving to Tallahassee Thursday evening. A second batch of thunderstorms is expected to form on Friday, and storm activity could stretch from Pensacola to Tallahassee early on Friday, before entering the north Florida peninsula during the afternoon.

By early Saturday, the atmospheric dynamics should become less favorable for thunderstorm development over Florida. Although a few rumbles of thunder will be possible over the central and southern peninsula, the threat for severe storms should be quite low.

Forecast Rainfall 02-08

In addition to a risk for damaging straight-line wind and brief tornadoes over the Panhandle and North Florida, localized flash flooding will be possible on Thursday and Friday. Latest model guidance suggests that rainfall accumulations between 1 and 2 inches, with local amounts over 3 inches, are possible over the central and western Panhandle between Thursday and early Saturday.

Interests in these regions are encouraged to continue watching the forecast and monitoring conditions. If warnings are issued for your immediate area, take the appropriate actions to shelter from hazards.

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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