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Severe storms, flash flood risk Wednesday night and Thursday

Meteorologist Megan Borowski

Strong thunderstorms and flash flooding are becoming increasingly possible on Thursday across most of the Sunshine State. The threat arises from a low-pressure system that is developing over the Gulf of Mexico.

Early on Wednesday morning, a surface disturbance was beginning to develop into a low-pressure center over the north-central Gulf of Mexico. At the same time, a low in the mid and upper layers was sinking from the Louisiana coast into the Gulf. Interactions between these two features should trigger the development of widespread thunderstorm clusters over the Gulf on Wednesday, and these cells will push inland on Thursday.

Scattered downpours are expected to arrive to portions of the western Panhandle, including Pensacola, as early as Wednesday evening. Then overnight Wednesday into early, isolated of thunderstorms should track from southwest to northeast across interior and eastern parts of South Florida. Although a few storms during the nighttime hours could produce strong winds, heavy rain will be the primary concern. It isn’t until late Thursday morning through the evening, when a broken squall is expected to set up over central Florida and push northeastward, that chances for wind gusts in excess of 60 mph and tornadoes will increase.

Rain rates could reach 1-2 inches per hour at times over the next few days. Areas that receive multiple rounds of storm cells will become prone to flash flooding. This is particularly true over South Florida’s Gold and Treasure coasts, where downpours already produced flooding earlier in the week. Most of the state is under a level 1 out of 5 risk for flash flooding on Thursday.

In advance of unsettled weather, residents are urged to secure loose outdoor objects, review their shelter in place plan, and ensure they have multiple ways of receiving weather warnings.