IMAGES:(1)Video grab image was captured during the evening of Sunday night February 22, 1998 at 11:51pm as the deadliest tornado outbreak in recorded Florida History unfolded. This is looking north from Windermere at a distance from a distance of about 5 miles, backlit by frequent lightning flashes. (2) Aerial view of the Ponderosa RV Park in Kissimmee (3) General area of what is known as "Dixie Alley" (as opposed to the more well known "Tornado Alley" of the Mid-West and a portion of the Plains states). High lighted areas shown are for my personally annotated areas of tornado risk from early Thursday through Friday afternoon. Other areas of severe weather potential are not shown.
Tonight and early Wendesday mark the 13th Anniversary of the most devastating tornado outbreak in Florida history, both in terms of deaths (42), injuries (over 260), and damage costs. The first tornado touched down at 10:55pm on that fateful Sunday night, the last occurred around 2:27AM stricking at Port Canaveral. Personal video of this storm as it approached (one mile from tornado touchdown) is shown here:
You can "Google" on: central florida tornado outbreak 1998
(copy and paste that string into a search engine for more details). Also, if reading this post from the blog page, or perhaps email, you can click on the title line of today's post for an indepth description of how the chain of events leading up to this event from beginning to end unfurled.
FORECAST PORTION OF TODAY'S POST:
TODAY: Very warm today with a SW-W wind, breezy during the early afternoon with gusts up to 20mph. Highs all along the east coast will reach the low-mid 80s under partly cloudy skies. Winds over North and North Central will become more WNW-NW and decrease by late afternoon toward sunset as weakening surface front sinks south.
WEDNESDAY: Front boundary will have sunk south through North Florida and will be across Central Florida at sunrise, very close to a Port Canaveral to Brooksville line. This boundary is almost completely discernible only through analysis of the thickness values and some strung out moisture in the lower/mid levels of the atmosphere. There is no surge of cold air with the boundary, although temperatures on Wednesday will be a few degrees cooler (3-5 degrees) by that of yesterday and today except over South Central and South Florida due to the northerly flow and possibly more off and on again clouds, especially Central Florida. Winds on Wednesday will be lighter and veer from a more NNW-N direction toward the NE by day's end.
Coolest temperatures on Wednesday will be along A1A from near Sebastian Inlet to Jacksonville due to light onshore winds across cool Atlantic waters with highs in the low-mid 70s (coolest from Port Canaveral and North). Inland temperatures will be close to 80F away from the east coast, with warmest temperatures over South Florida (low-mid 80s) with less overall clouds other than diurnal pancake cumulus clouds.
THURSDAY: Could be a foggy morning once again (like many have been the past few mornings in the most favored areas given each morning's particular synoptic regime). Winds on Thursday should become more easterly with similar to Wednesday's temperatures although perhaps a bit cooler over SE Florida by only a few degrees. Any rain showers should remain to the east over the Gulf Stream.
THURSDAY NIGHT/FRIDAY: Although high pressure will have been for the most part in full control the entire time frame, the center at the low levels will become more situated to the east and south of Central Florida providing for a more Southeasterly flow, gradually veering to the SSW on Friday afternoon. Another warm day for all of Florida Friday-Saturday to SW winds...including the East Coast. Any rain showers (the silent 10 percent) to occur will be during the transition of winds from ESE-S which will permit the weak Gulf Stream moisture gradient to press on shore before washing out altogether.
Otherwise, other than a cooler afternoon for Wednesday/Thursday along the North Central and North Florida East Coast (perhaps as far south as Sebastians/Vero by Thursday morning) and some areas of fog once again, no significant weather issues. A similar cycle appears will occur some time over the weekend with the first front to possibly pass through in accompanied by a 20-30% chance of showers sometime around the 1st or 2nd of March. Overnight lows along the east coast will be in the 60s with some mid-upper 50s inland during the entire time frame.
LASTLY: I've thrown in the third image showing "Dixie Alley" (the brown shaded area) for a reason. It appears that the first broad severe weather event in 2011 for this region will unfold Wednesday night (late) almost anywhere over Oklahoma which will broaden and more significantly begin to show its true colors after daybreak Thursday.
Rapid changes will be underway at this time as an upper trough moves into the southern Plains and over a strong southerly jet of 40-50knts which will be overspreading the warm sector of North Texas (east 1/2) and Oklahoma. Although these storms will be elevated and capping (warm air aloft) could be an issue, some large hail might develop.
The bigger severe weather threat will develop from the Arlatex up to SW Missouri as cooling aloft associated with the 500mb trough overides warm sector air spreading east during late morning into Thursday afternoon in conjunction with a surge of a dry air from the west (a developed dryline). Instability won't be tremendous, but shearing wind profiles and turning of them with height as well as forcing for ascent along the dryline surge and in the vicinity of the warm front will be more than ample to favor the development of supercell thunderstorms and bowing line segments with tornadoes possible. I've highighted the original areas most likely for this activity initially (in regards to possible tornadoes) as well as where it could exist (with perhaps a bit less 'vigor' as the system moves east going into early Friday. There will likely be an enhanced "threat" area that can be determined once this synoptic scale set up actually materializes and mesoscale boundaries result once initial activity gets underway.
Tornado Alley, although more well known than "Dixie Alley" is actually where most tornado deaths occur due to the land scape (a lot more trees/hilly) and greater overall atmospheric moisture involved, often making tornadoes rain-wrapped and/or difficult to see due to the geography...although not always the case contingent upon the exact location a tornado forms. Conditions will spread east through Friday into the Carolinas and Virginia of less overall coverage...but bears watching.
Would also like to point out that this system from late Wednesday night through Friday will only be the first of at least two more over the next 10 days to follow similar tracks and evolution. I'm actually going to be even more interested in the following system going into late weekend, early next week.