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Damaging wind, large hail possible in Panhandle & North Florida through midweek

 Severe storms could develop Monday evening from the Panhandle to North Florida.
Meteorologist Justin Ballard
Storm Prediction Center
Clusters of strong thunderstorms are forecast to erupt Monday afternoon and evening.

The risk of winds in excess of 60 miles per hour and hail over 1 inch in diameter has prompted a Severe Thunderstorm Watch to be issued for much of the Panhandle through Monday evening.

Strong storms entered the Panhandle early Monday morning as a frontal boundary inched closer to the Sunshine State. Through midweek, this boundary will remain nearly stationary over South Georgia and southern Alabama. The result will be a multi-day risk of storms capable of producing damaging winds, large hail, and localized flooding. Surface analysis Monday depicts the cold front stretched from near Atlanta, southwestward toward Birmingham and the Lower Mississippi River Valley. South of the boundary, dew points are well into the 70s across South Georgia into North Florida and the Panhandle. North of the boundary, dew points have fallen into the 50s across the Tennessee River Valley. This slow-moving cold front is forecast to stall over Central and South Georgia through midweek, resulting in rounds of heavy rain and strong thunderstorms.

High-resolution models suggest the storm risk Monday will likely redevelop along boundaries leftover from early morning convection. Determining where exactly these boundaries are and where storms will develop is a difficult task as it requires such a fine-scale analysis. In general, it appears that storms Monday afternoon will re-develop near the I-10 corridor in the Panhandle as diurnal heating increases. A quick-moving disturbance in the mid-levels will result in blossoming thunderstorm activity through the afternoon from Jacksonville to Pensacola. Initial development Monday afternoon will be most likely to produce large hail, but damaging winds will become the main risk as storms become more congealed.

Strong storms will again redevelop Tuesday as the nearby front interacts with daytime heating. A thunderstorm complex is forecast to develop along the Red River Valley Monday afternoon and that system will push into the Panhandle through the day Tuesday. The latest guidance as of publishing suggest a line of strong storms enters the Panhandle by the late morning hours, bringing the risk of damaging winds and large hail. The atmospheric setup Tuesday does bring a heightened risk of damaging wind and large hail along and north of I-10. On top of the risk of wind and hail, the finer atmospheric details suggest an isolated risk of a quick spin-up tornado. Storms are forecast to generally remain near and north of I-10, possibly arriving in Jacksonville by Tuesday evening.

The frontal boundary is likely to wobble north and south through midweek, which adds a level of complexity to determining where severe storms will be most likely. Based on the latest forecast information Monday, it appears that the risk of severe weather will be more isolated Wednesday as the frontal boundary retreats toward North Georgia and northern Alabama. While severe storms may be more hit-or-miss by Wednesday, the risk of localized flash flooding will be present from Jacksonville to Tallahassee to Pensacola. The Weather Prediction Center places North Florida and the Panhandle in the area most likely to receive 2 to 4 inches of rain over the next seven days, with locally higher amounts possible. If this amount of rain comes over the course of a day or two, the flash flood risk will likely be elevated.

Widespread severe weather is not anticipated, but it is important to know a few key terms to stay safe during severe weather. A "watch" means that the ingredients for severe weather or flooding are present and may develop in the hours to come. Typically, a watch covers a large geographical area and lasts for at least several hours. Flood watches are sometimes issued a day or two in advance of a flood event, however, severe thunderstorm and tornado watches are issued only a few hours before severe storms are forecast. A "warning" means that severe weather or flooding are imminent or occurring. Severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings tend to last an hour or less, while flood warnings can last longer depending on the situation and how severe flooding gets. Residents are encouraged to have more than one way to receive severe weather alerts.