April 4, 2013

Weather alert: Storms are back Friday

Heavy rains and powerful winds are pounding parts of South Florida. The bad weather has uprooted trees in Broward and dropped golf ball-sized hail on neighborhoods.

South Florida is sloshing through more rain and slick roads Friday morning.

Dozens have crashes littered streets and highways early Friday. And later on, more rain is expected, along with lightning, wind gusts and possible hail.

"Just nasty out there," CBS4 meteorologist Lissette Gonzalez told her Facebook followers.

"Give yourself extra time, drive slowly ... roads are drenched and dangerous," she advised.

The region will see more heavy downpours, gusty winds and hail," she said.

Storms through the day and evening will come with lightning and gusts of up to 40 mph, according to the National Weather Service Friday morning. Some areas could see "pea-sized hail" as well, the weather service said.

Flooding also is possible in low-lying areas. Some parts of South Florida have seen up to four inches of rain already.

Heavy rains and powerful winds pounded parts of South Florida Thursday night, uprooting trees in Broward and dropping golf ball-sized hail on neighborhoods — and even prompting a tornado watch to be issued.

By 7 p.m., the foul weather had eased in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, and the tornado watch was lifted by 8 p.m.

But experts cautioned that it wasn’t over. And it isn't.

The heavy rains and strong winds were expected to return with a vengeance and linger through daybreak Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

“This is going to be a long, bad weather event,” said meteorologist Alex Gibbs.

A line of storms over the Gulf of Mexico was expected to roll across South Florida, then into the Atlantic.

As they move in, more hail is expected, along with flooding in areas with poor drainage through Friday, when the chance of rain is 80 percent.

Early Thursday night, Broward and Palm Beach received the brunt of the first phase of the rain and thunderstorms.

There were reports of winds reaching as high as 75 miles per hour, measured at North Broward General Hospital.

“But most of the winds were between 50 and 60 miles per hour in some area in those two counties,” Gibbs said.

Rick Ahrens, 62, of Coconut Creek, saw a 30-foot tree fall behind his home as he watched the strong winds and rain with his wife, Ruth, 60, from the second floor of a two-story building around 5 p.m. If the tree had fallen the other way, it would’ve hit his roof.

“The first thing I thought is that it was a tornado or something, and the tree fell down,” he said. “The tree made it through Hurricane Wilma, but it didn’t make it through this one.”

Raul Palacios, 42, pastor at Church by the Glades in Coral Springs, saw hail falling for about a minute on his patio.

“We could see the big splashes in the pool and we could see it on the grass,” he said. “I would say they were the size of a Ping-Pong ball.”

The wind blew a table and an umbrella into the pool.

But for Palacios and his 8-year-old son Andy, it wasn’t bad. “Every once in a while you get those violent thunderstorms,” Palacios said. “It was great to see . . . nature doing its work.”

Miami-Dade mainly experienced rain and dark clouds in the evening.

The bad weather is being caused by a cold front moving in, but the front will not seriously impact temperatures.

The upside: After a rainy Friday, nice weather should return for the weekend, Gibbs said.

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