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Submitted by Tim Buckley on Tue, 10/18/2011 - 9:20am.
We've got it all today. A tropical low headed our way, possible tornado threat tonight, potential for flooding rains, and then temperatures that will drop like a rock by Thursday. Yes, it's fall and we come to expect this sort of thing across the country as the good 'ole battle between warm and cold air rages on. That's the force that's driving the bus today. Let's see if I can spell it out here...
As is the case with any Fall severe weather setup, we have a supply of Canadian air. The cold airmass is plunging south into the plains - and is pushing its way southeastward. This is essentially shoving any warm air our way and up the East Coast. The boundary between these two air masses is a large and strong cold front. This front is the focal point for rising air, which gives way the thunderstorms.
This alone is enough to create a setup for some marginally severe level thunderstorms, but we have an X-factor that makes this weather scenario special. A tropical area of low pressure off the coast of Florida with endless amount of moisture lies in the way of this cold front. Since the wind flow out ahead of the system is southerly, this low gets caught up and taken along for the ride. In essense, two lows become one.
As this "phasing of the lows" as we call it happens this evening, the cold front will be located over Georgia. The area out ahead of the front will the best spot to find any severe thunderstorms.
For us, we're a bit concerned about the possibility of some tornadoes forming in this area. Winds high up in the sky will be coming in out of the southwest, but the tropical low is going to be bringing in winds out of the east at the surface. In a sense -- this creates some "twisting" in the atmosphere, or wind shear as we call it.
This can be the pre-cursor to creating rotation within thunderstorms, which then can give way to tornadoes. If any do form, they will not likely be long lived or strong. That being said, we never want to downplay any possibility of tornadoes.
The window of opportunity for this severe weather will be anywhere from sunset to sunrise, especially around midnight - 4am. Once we head into Wednesday, it should mostly be a heavy rain event. Flooding will be possibile with this storm that has already dumped over 10 inches in parts of South Florida.
Thankfully for us, by Wednesday afternoon we'll already begin to see some clearing and the temperatures will start their downward spiral. Lows in the 40's will again become the norm with highs only in the 60's through the weekend. This is the fall many have been waiting for - and beach lovers have been dreading.
Like it or not, it's here starting on Thursday!
That's all for now
By: Tim Buckley