Know your thunderstorm types
Florida’s storms have killed one girl, led to severe thunderstorm watches for much of the state, and have forecasters eying the chance of tornadoes.
A powerful storm sent a tree through a house in Woodville, south of Tallahassee. An 8-year-old girl was killed and a 12-year-old boy in the house was sent to the hospital, Leon County Sheriff’s deputies said after the 8 a.m. tragedy.
The boy’s injuries were not life threatening, the sheriff’s department said.
The same line of storms killed two people in Mississippi and one in Alabama Thursday before casting its winds and rain on Florida, NBC6 reported.
These storms are poised to bring potential tornadoes to the Carolinas and southern Virginia.
That rain spattering your car windshield on the morning commute in South Florida was just a bellwether of what’s still to come Friday.
The National Weather Service in Miami reported scattered showers that rolled in by 8 a.m. arrived as the lead-in to a cold front for Easter weekend that will dip temperatures in Miami to 70 degrees Friday night and 66 degrees on Saturday night.
Numerous thunderstorms are expected to spread across South Florida from the west to the east. The afternoon and evening hours are when you will really want to pay attention.
Watch for frequent lightning strikes with winds gusting beyond 40 mph, the center says.
The Florida Keys also saw showers in the morning but these will increase substantially later today, the National Weather Service in Key West warns.
The rest of the state will be even be wilder. Wind gusts could reach 60 mph in areas west of Lake Okeechobee and in Orlando.
Manatee and Sarasota counties and much of the Tampa Bay area went under a tornado watch, which will be in effect until 4 p.m.
Where will it rain the least? Consider a visit to Homestead area (this is the last weekend of the season for the popular Knaus Berry Farm attraction) where rain chances are better than half — 51 percent.
The wettest parts of Florida promise to be west coast counties like La Belle and Immokalee at 84 and 80 percent rain chance, respectively. Naples faces a 79 percent rain chance. On the east coast, West Palm Beach (68 percent) and Fort Lauderdale (60 percent) could see the most activity.
The weather service issued a high surf, coastal flooding and rip current alert for parts of Bradenton. “A few” tornadoes are also possible in the evening hours — a risk common to much of Florida as the cold front approaches.
In Orlando, the weather service reports that storms “will be extremely fast, toward the northeast at 50 to 60 mph.” These could produce damaging wind gusts in excess of 60 mph, “frequent cloud to ground lightning, torrential downpours, and small hail.” A couple tornadoes could also spawn out of the unsettled weather.
The University of Florida’s Weather Center also alerted students and staff to the threat of heavy rain, strong wind and small hail expected at lunchtime and extending into the afternoon across north-central Florida.
The National Weather Service in Jacksonville also issued a wind advisory that goes into effect from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, with gusts expected in the 35 mph range.