Update 5 p.m.: Warning Coordination Meteorologist Robert Molleda in Miami said the potential still exists in Palm Beach County for strong thunderstorms with gusty winds and funnel clouds. He expects the weather to move through by 7 p.m.
Another line of storms is trying to organize over the Everglades. If it holds together, it could hit Broward and Miami-Dade counties after 6 p.m.
“So far not looking like it’s showing signs of getting stronger, but we’ll continue to watch closely,” Molleda said.
From Vero Beach today:
Update 4:21 p.m.: Strong storms with winds up to 55 mph are approaching northern Palm Beach County. Forecasters said funnel clouds are possible.
The storms are moving swiftly and are expected to be through the area by 7 p.m.
Today’s abnormally warm temperatures and high humidity give extra oomph to storms. West Palm Beach reached 83 degrees as a high today with a dew point of 71.
As air heats up, it rises into the atmosphere like a bubble in water. Once there, it cools and then is forced down. With strong winds aloft ventilating the atmosphere the process of lifting and falling continues.
The jet stream is over North Florida today, but winds at 10,000 feet over South Florida are still pumping up to 60 mph.
“That raises some concern. It’s stronger than normal,” said Dave Samuhel, a senior meteorologist for AccuWeather.
Still, South Florida has been spared the worst of the severe weather because the driving low pressure system that raked through the Panhandle overnight lifted more to the north over mid-Atlantic states.
A surface wind gust of 30 mph was recorded at Palm Beach International Airport between 3 p.m. and 4.p.m.
Update 4:05 p.m.: A significant weather advisory has been issued for north central Palm Beach County until 4:30 p.m. after forecasters spotted storms capable of producing funnel clouds near north county airport.
The thunderstorm, which is showing signs of rotation, is moving northeast at 25 mph.
National Weather Service meteorologists believe this storm will remain over mostly rural areas before moving off the coast.
Update 2:20 p.m.: Two tornadoes have been reported near Charlotte Harbor, north of the Peace River on Florida’s west coast.
According to the Tampa office of the National Weather Service, a trained spotter saw one tornado at about 1:40 p.m. A second tornado was reported north of Port Charlotte at 1:15 p.m. It took down trees, damaged light posts and broke windows in a building, according to limited reports available at the Storm Prediction Center website.
An incredible gallery of tornado damage in Louisiana is available here.
Update 12:45 p.m.: The squall line associated with the strong cold front cutting through Florida has slowed down considerably and become more east-west oriented, according to an update from the National Weather Service in Miami.
The line was moving north of Lake Okeechobee at about 12:30 p.m. and a severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for Indian River and St. Lucie counties. A tornado warning was issued for southeast Indian River County until 1:30 p.m.
While storms may not start to move across South Florida until late afternoon or early evening, there will likely be enough instability for a strong storm threat to continue.
The actual squall line may not reach Palm Beach County until 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Temperatures in the low 80s, including 83 degrees at Palm Beach International Airport, are adding to instability as air heated by the sun and southerly winds rises into the atmosphere.
A wind gust of 28 mph was recorded at PBIA before noon.
“Gusty winds and small hail will likely be the concern, but an isolated tornado threat will remain especially along the Gulf Coast when the line initially moves onshore and along the east coast due to the influence of the south southeast winds,” said Arlena Moses, an NWS meteorologist in Miami.
Photos from tornado in Escambia County.
The sweeping tail of a strong low pressure system is moving toward South Florida bringing the possibility of tornadoes and wind gusts of up to 60 mph.
In the most recent forecast from the National Weather Service in Miami, meteorologists said the high wind risk is more of a concern than tornadoes, but that damaging cyclones cannot be ruled out.
Tornadoes swept across Gulf states Tuesday, including about 20 reports of cyclones in Florida’s Panhandle.
The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., increased South Florida’s risk of severe weather yesterday to “marginal.”
That means there is a 2 percent chance of a tornado and a 5 percent chance of severe thunderstorms.
Because the low pressure system is lifting to the northeast, the storm threat will gradually reduced as it moves south through the Peninsula. Central Florida is expected to experience more severe weather than South Florida.
Areas in the Treasure Coast are being warned of strong winds beginning as early as this morning and are under a wind advisory between 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“While conditions over southern Florida may not be as ripe for a severe threat as they are over northern and central Florida, a marginal risk of severe weather remains with strong winds and isolated tornadoes being the primary concerns,” Miami forecasters wrote. ”
Part of what is instigating the storms to be stronger in South Florida today is a lofty pocket of wind moving at about 80 mph along the jet stream and over South Florida. While winds aloft are flying by from the west southwest, surface winds are south southeast. The juxtaposition creates wind shear and promotes storminess.
The storms are expected to move offshore by early Thursday morning. Today’s high temperature will be in the mid 80s but will drop dramatically after the cold front. By tomorrow, the high is expected only to reach 73 degrees.
So far in 2016, a strong El Niño pattern has contributed to a very active severe weather season, with a total of 6 tornadoes in South Florida. At least three of them were rated EF-1.
These include the Pompano Beach and northeast Miami-Dade County tornadoes of February 16th as well as the Coconut Creek/Pompano Beach tornado of January 27th. Other confirmed tornadoes so far in 2016 have occurred in Moore Haven, Davie and southern metro Palm Beach County.
Outside of Florida, the highest threat for severe weather is from the Carolinas to Virginia where the center of the low pressure system is headed.