Thunderstorms, some strong, expected this afternoon

The Storm Prediction Center is warning that strong thunderstorms are possible this afternoon in South Florida as a cold front moves through the state.

Cold front moving through North Florida is expected to reach Palm Beach County late this afternoon.

Cold front moving through North Florida is expected to reach Palm Beach County late this afternoon.

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

A southerly wind flow is pulling up warm moist area that will collide with the front, causing the storms to increase into the evening hours.

Forecasters in Miami said the storms could bring gusty winds and hail. There is a chance West Palm Beach will be missed by the storms if the sea breeze kicks up and pushes cloudiness and rain west where thunderstorms could form after colliding with a Lake Okeechobee breeze.

Cold front location valid at 2 p.m.

Cold front location valid at 2 p.m.

But the sea breeze depends on how warm we get today. If clouds increase and keep temperatures low, there’s a better chance that the storms could develop along the coast and dampen tonight’s lighting of West Palm Beach’s 35-foot Sandi Christmas Tree.

“Some strong storms are possible,” said Robert Garcia, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami. “We’re thinking the primary hazards are lightning, gusty winds and the potential for small hail.”

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Last year, Sandi got swamped by widespread rains the first week in December and had to be repaired to the tune of $5,100. The heavy rain and winds knocked down Sandi’s star and blew out lights.

The deluge, which set rainfall records across South Florida and flooded streets in Miami-Dade County, left a sheet of sand puddled near part of the tree as carved candy canes and lollipops dissolved in the swamping.

Tonight’s lighting event runs from 6 to 10 p.m. 

A worker sprays a fine mixture similar to glue and water to keep sand from blowing away in this 2015 photo of Sandi being repaired after torrential rains.

A worker sprays a fine mixture similar to glue and water to keep sand from blowing away in this 2015 photo of Sandi being repaired after torrential rains.

Garcia said up to a half-inch of rain is expected through Saturday in South Florida.

The cold front will cool things off a little tomorrow and through the weekend, but overnight lows will remain slightly above normal for this time of year.

Saturday and Sunday are expected to have high temperatures near 80 degrees with lows near 70. The normal overnight low for this time of year is 63 degrees.

“This front struggles to be classified as a cold front,” Garcia said. “We’ll see a couple degrees of cooling but otherwise we’re looking to be in pretty much the same shape.”

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