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Unsettled end to week for Panhandle, above average temperatures continue for peninsula

January 24, 2024

Periods of heavy rain and gusty thunderstorms are possible over Florida’s far western Panhandle through the weekend. As a local flash flood threat mounts for locations like Panama City and Pensacola, the remainder of the Sunshine State will be blanketed by above average temperatures.

On Wednesday afternoon, a strong ridge of high pressure was centered off the coast of the Mid Atlantic and Northeast. Meanwhile, surface low pressure was developing over the Western Gulf Coast. Wind flow around these two features was directing warm and humid air from the Caribbean northeastward into the State of Florida. Afternoon temperatures were forecasted to reach the upper 70s and lower 80s across the state.

Over the next few days, the system developing over the western Gulf Coast should track through the Lower Mississippi Valley and into the Ohio Valley. As the core of the storm follows the northeastward trajectory, it will drag a boundary of low pressure toward the Central Gulf Coast. The front is forecasted to linger in this area from Thursday through the start of the weekend.

Directly ahead of the boundary, the environment will be supportive of thunderstorm development. Multiple rounds of storms capable of producing heavy rain rates and strong wind gusts will be possible for far western Panhandle cities and towns, including Panama City, Destin, and Pensacola. Total rainfall amounts in these areas could approach 4 inches, and local flooding will become possible, especially by the start of the weekend as ground saturation becomes more likely.

At the same time, the remainder of Florida will be far enough removed from the storm system and surface front such that the risk for strong storms or local flooding will be minimal. Instead, southerly winds will continue to drag a warm airmass overhead, and temperatures should trend about 10 to 15 degrees above normal.

By the end of the weekend, the cold front is forecasted to finally gain momentum and track through the Florida peninsula. The risk for heavy rainfall over the Panhandle should subside by Sunday, and at the same time, the warm airmass over the peninsula will likely be replaced by cooler and drier air from the north. Monday morning lows could fall as low as the 50s over far South Florida and the 30s along and north of I-10 in North Florida. Monday afternoon highs will generally be limited to the 50s and 60s, with the exception of South Florida locations, which may warm to the low 70s.

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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