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Periods of heavy rain, flash flooding possible over the Panhandle and North Florida later this week

Widespread showers and thunderstorms are forecasted to return to North Florida and the Panhandle this week, and periods of heavy rainfall could lead to localized flash flooding. The pattern change will be sparked by several atmospheric ingredients, including the remnants of Hurricane Julia.

Hurricane Julia made landfall over Nicaragua during the pre-dawn hours of Sunday. The category 1 storm produced damaging winds, dangerous storm surge, and flooding rainfall over portions of Central America before approaching the Pacific Coast of the region. During this time, Julia weakened into a tropical storm and by Monday it had become a depression.

By early Tuesday morning, the system lost enough organization such that it lost its “depression” designation, however shower and thunderstorm activity was still widespread near Guatemala, Belize, and the Yucatán peninsula of Mexico. Energy associated with these thunderstorms, which are remnants of Julia, are expected to push northeastward through the Gulf of Mexico overnight Tuesday and arrive to peninsular Florida on Wednesday.

At the same time, a storm system was developing over the Northern Plains and southern Canadian prairie provinces. Upper-level energy from this system is modeled to sweep eastward throughout the day Tuesday, and arrive to the Southeast, including the Florida Panhandle, on Wednesday.

The arrival of these features to Central and North Florida, and the Panhandle, will prime the atmosphere for shower and thunderstorm development Wednesday. Cells are forecasted to first develop along the Gulf Coast of the Panhandle and North/Central Florida during the early afternoon. Then storm activity should propagate north northeastward.

Locally heavy rainfall rates will be the greatest threat posed from Wednesday’s storms, and this could lead to isolated flash flooding. Forecasters at the Weather Prediction Center say that Florida’s Panhandle from Tallahassee westward is under a marginal, or level one out of four, risk for flash flooding. Additionally, although the chances are limited, a brief tornado cannot be ruled out of the forecast.

Cloud cover will persist, and shower chances will remain elevated over the Panhandle, North, and Central Florida on Thursday, before a cold front arrives from northwest to southeast. Friday into the weekend, the region should be within a cooler and drier airmass behind the front. Skies should turn mostly sunny, and afternoon highs should drop to the mid/upper 70s.