Quiet, sunny mid-week weather ends Thursday

Strong storms head our way Thursday

By Rebecca Barry - Meteorologist
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Meteorologist George Winterling shares this graphic, showing the winds, temperature, and pressure over the US, and explains how this will lead to the potential for severe storms on Thursday.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Expect beautiful weather for the middle of the workweek as high pressure builds into the Southeast.  Dry air pushing into Southeast Georgia and Northeast Florida clears out our skies, lowers any rain chances, and allows for greater variation in temperature. 

Clear skies Tuesday evening allowed for rapidly cooling temperatures that dropped into the low 50's. Smoke from the Pumpkin Hill Preserve fire settled overnight, reducing visibilities for some, and causing the acrid smell for many. Patchy fog was possible early Wednesday, especially if the winds remained calm around sunrise.  After sunrise, the fog faded quickly as temperatures climbed thought the 50's and 60's during the morning hours.  Most notably Wednesday, the winds picked up.  Out of the East, and reached 10-15mph by Wednesday afternoon.  A few clouds built up during the early afternoon hours, ahead of a few showers to the North of the State line Wednesday afternoon.  Wednesday evening, those showers pushed into Northeast Florida, some lingered overnight.

Thursday, numerous showers and some strong thunderstorms push into Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia.  Rainfall totals will range between 1 and 3", and small hail is possible.  Excessive lightning is possible, especially during the afternoon and evening hours. Straight line winds gust up to 30mph.  Isolated power outages may occur, along with temporarily reduced visibilities on roadways during the height of the storms.

Meteorologist George Winterling says, "Our most severe thunderstorm/tornado activity usually occurs between February and May. The opposing factors that create these situations are (a) the warming of the atmosphere from the surface upward at the same time that the (b) the upper atmosphere is still cold. This instability is associated with the proverbial March lion who roars with the atmospheric turbulence and gusty surface winds.

 With the tropical latitudes warming faster than the cooler parts of the U.S., the upper westerlies become stronger. Pools of cold air in upper troughs move rapidly eastward against tropical air, often creating squall lines with severe thunderstorms. Also, the freezing level is lower and our spring thunderstorms will frequently produce large hail, although the largest hail I've seen was 2 1/2 inch diameter clusters of marble size hail on June 30, 1960. The most unusual hail was one that covered downtown Jacksonville several inches deep on April 6, 1907. The hailstones drifted up to 6 inches deep in places.

 When it comes to heavy rainfall such as the kind we had Palm Sunday weekend, it becomes rarer after the first week of April. Because of our near record cold March, we are in store for another round of heavy rain by Thursday night, probably 2 inches or more. After mid-April frontal rains will be less frequent as higher temperatures begin to approach 90 causing lower humidities. Spring rains will then be more scattered and limited to a rapid cold frontal passage or seabreeze convergence shower."

Some showers and storms may linger overnight, but the wet weather ends shortly after sunrise Friday, with clearing skies anticipated Friday afternoon, leading to a calm, quiet, sunny weekend.

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