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Damaging winds possible Saturday as cold front sweeps through state

April 20, 2023

Strong storms are forecast to bring a damaging wind risk Friday into Saturday as a cold front slowly sweeps across the state.

Surface analysis Thursday afternoon depicts a potent area of low pressure located in the Central Plains, with an associated cold front stretching to the Rio Grande River Valley. High pressure located over the Southeast is working in tandem with the low in the Central U.S. to pull in increasingly unstable air into places like Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. The risk of severe weather will unfold first Thursday in these locations before eventually shifting east by Friday and Saturday.

An increasingly moist and unstable atmosphere will develop ahead of the approaching cold front Friday night into Saturday morning. Model guidance suggests dew points across the state will reach into the 60s with high temperatures in the upper 70s to upper 80s. The combination of a warm and moist environment will result in developing thunderstorms by Saturday. The approaching cold front will provide extra energy for storms to tap into, resulting in the risk of an isolated strong or severe thunderstorm capable of damaging winds.

Storms are forecast to reach the Panhandle overnight Friday into Saturday morning, with this region of the state least likely to see the severe risk manifest. This is due in part to waning available energy for storms to tap into during the early morning hours Saturday. As storms move across the Panhandle through the late morning, instability will likely increase. This results in the risk of strong storms mainly from the Big Bend east, stretching across the entire Peninsula Saturday afternoon into the evening. The Storm Prediction Center highlights this region of the state Saturday with a "marginal" risk of severe storms, which is a 1 on a severe weather scale of 1-to-5. Severe storms are not expected to be widespread as of publishing, but a few isolated strong and severe storms could dot the radar through Saturday evening. As the cold front presses east of the state Saturday into Sunday, the risk of strong storms should subside.

Conditions will not likely remain rain-free for long, as the same front that slowly pushes through the state over the weekend will begin retrograding early next week. This will keep rain chances elevated into early next week, with daily thunderstorms possible along and south of I-4 Monday into Tuesday. Looking at the longer range forecast, the next six to ten days do feature above average chances for rainfall across the entire state. Drought-stricken areas along and north of I-4 could see the most rainfall over the next ten days, with likely above average rainfall forecast through the rest of April according to the Climate Prediction Center.

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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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