Cold front conjures lightning and hail, chilly temps ahead

The worst of Tuesday’s weather stayed just north of Palm Beach County, but that doesn’t mean people weren’t treated to an incredible lightning storm as the cold front moved into South Florida.

Lightning strikes ahead of a cold front moving into the region in West Palm Beach, Florida, March 20, 2018. (Greg Lovett / The Palm Beach Post)

The front dumped hail from Orlando to Daytona Beach, and pushed gusty winds of up to 73 mph through Brevard County.

A 61-mph wind gust was recorded in Naples, while a 52-mph gust hit Boca Raton near 10 p.m. Winds gusted to 35 mph Tuesday at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach.

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Hail in Oviedo Tuesday afternoon from cold front. March 20, 2018. Photo by Cal Quesenbury

The front will be followed today by milder temperatures with a high of 79 in West Palm Beach. That follows Tuesday’s 90-degree high – the first 90-degree day of 2018.

But things really cool down tonight.

The overnight low is forecast to drop to 48 degrees, which is 15 degrees below normal for this time of year.

SEE: Check The Palm Beach Post radar map

It’s not likely to break the record of 42 degrees from 1924, but Friday morning will also dip into the high 40s if current forecasts from the National Weather Service hold true.

“Mostly clear skies and spring sunshine will allow for high temperatures to climb into the mid to upper 70s today,” forecasters wrote. “Chilly low temperatures return tonight, dropping into the mid 40s over the interior, upper 40s along the Gulf coast and low to mid 50s for the east coast.”

The risk of wildfires triggered a red flag warning today in Palm Beach County, which is in effect this afternoon as the cold front pushes all the way through the Peninsula and drier air rushes in.

Low relative humidity with gusty northwest winds near 15 mph exacerbate the threat.

According to the NWS, rain amounts at Palm Beach International are 8 inches below what’s normal for the dry season.

And there’s little chance of rain in the near-term forecast. The Climate Prediction Center is also forecasting below normal rainfall across South Florida for the next 6 to 14 days.

“Drought conditions are expected to continue to develop or increase in coverage over South Florida through late spring before slowly improving in the early summer time,” forecasters wrote.

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