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Tornado Watch Issued for North and Northeast Florida Until Midnight

A Tornado Watch has been issued for all of north and northeast Florida until midnight. The watch includes the cities of Jacksonville, Gainesville, Ocala, and the Nature Coast.

As of 7 pm ET, radar data indicated a squall line of thunderstorms capable of producing damaging straight-line winds or a tornado was moving through Florida’s Big Bend. Several accounts of wind damage have been reported from this line in and around the Tallahassee area and points farther west.

The squall line is expected to maintain its strength, or even intensify some as it moves farther east, thanks to strong winds aloft and an unstable mass developing ahead of it. The Storm Prediction Center says there is a enhanced risk of damaging winds up to 70 mph and a few tornadoes with the line.

The most likely arrival times of the squall line in the watch area are listed below. Keep in mind that the greatest wind damage potential is usually a few miles ahead of the reflectivity you may see on radar.

  • Lake City & High Springs 8 to 9 pm
  • Gainesville & Cedar Key 8:30 to 9:30 pm
  • Jacksonville 9 to 10 pm
  • Ocala & Palatka 10 to 11 pm
  • St. Augustine 11 to 12 pm

In addition to the wind damage potential, rainfall totals between 1 and 2 inches may cause brief periods of localized flooding where some of the strongest cells track. The heaviest rain is expected to exit the Florida Panhandle by midnight, with clearing skies and cooler conditions expected on Friday.

Copyright 2020 WUFT 89.1

Jeff Huffman is Chief Meteorologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville. In addition to his full-time position at the university's radio and television stations, WUFT-FM/TV and WRUF-TV, the latter of which he co-founded, Huffman also provides weather coverage to public radio stations throughout Florida