JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – This week is Florida Severe Weather Awareness Week, and Wednesday’s topic is on thunderstorms and tornadoes.
When we think of severe weather, we often think of storms and tornadoes. Both are major concerns for Florida and can happen at any time of year.
A statewide tornado drill occurred Wednesday morning, highlighting the threat of thunderstorms and tornadoes.
Knowing where to go in the event of impactful weather is important, whether you’re home or away.
Dry season vs. rainy season
Much of the state experiences two distinct time periods during the year. The dry season and the rainy season.
In dry season, most days are dry, with showers and storms only arriving with passing cold fronts every five to seven days.
Some fronts pass through producing minimal to no rain, but some stronger cold fronts can produce strong to severe storms.
Sometimes, the atmosphere is conducive for rotation as a cold front nears, creating the threat for tornadoes.
The vast majority of strong tornadoes that have impacted the state have occurred ahead of strong cold fronts during dry season.
Dry season normally runs from October through May, but the exact dates vary from year to year and by location.
Rainy season is the typical summertime thunderstorms the state experiences.
These storms are created by sea breezes developing at beach locations, then pushing inland.
This boundary helps lift moist and unstable air, creating daily afternoon and evening thunderstorms.
These storms are often strong and can on occasion produce weak, brief tornadoes.
The highest chance for tornadoes during rainy season is often with tropical storms and hurricanes impacting the area.
Rainy season normally runs from June through October.
Watch vs. warning
One of the keys to understanding what to do in severe weather is understanding the difference between a watch and a warning.
In a watch, conditions are favorable to severe weather or tornadoes. This means residents should “watch” for forecasts and be prepared in the event severe weather impacts your area.
In a warning, severe weather or a possible tornado is imminent or is likely. During a warning, it is time to action quickly.
What to do
On days when severe weather is in the forecast, it is important to know what to do.
In a home, move to the lowest floor and away from windows. Lanais, patios and balconies should be vacated.
If outside, stop all outdoor activities immediately and seek shelter in an enclosed structure.
In a tornado warning, precautions need to be taken immediately as a tornado could impact your area.
At home or at a place of business, move to the lowest floor and seek shelter in an interior room. Bathrooms, hallways and closets are preferred.
During a tornado, mobile homes do not provide protection. Immediately leave a mobile home and seek shelter in an enclosed building or home.
Once finding shelter, get low on the ground and protect your head and neck. A bicycle helmet can help protect your head.
If you’re outside, seek shelter immediately in an enclosed shelter and move toward the interior of the structure.
If you’re driving, leave your vehicle and move into an enclosed shelter. Vehicles provide little protection during tornadoes.
Severe weather and tornado will occur in 2023 in Florida. Knowing the difference between a watch and a warning, as well as what to do when severe weather threatens, can help protect you and your family.