A fast-moving strong area of low pressure will swing through the state Friday, soaking most of Florida and even carrying with it a risk for severe weather. It's a storm system that the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network will be monitoring closely, especially considering its timing and origin as it relates to El Niño. We have well documented how the near-record warm water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean can lead to an enhanced risk of tornadoes. It was just last weekend, for example, when a seemingly weak storm system was able to produce an EF2 tornado that hit Cape Coral, the only report of severe weather that day in the state.
Friday's storm system is complex and a little unusual for this time of year. It will originate in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico and will be carrying copious amounts of upper-level moisture and energy. Multiple questions still exist on exactly where it will track, how strong it will be, and how unstable the air mass will become at the surface when it arrives. Upper-level dynamics and wind shear will be more than sufficient to produce some severe weather, but confidence is low on how the low-level environment will respond. I posted a more technical discussion on the storm system and our preparations for covering it Wednesday.
What we know now is that Friday will be a very wet day for much of the state, especially central and north Florida. Showers and thunderstorms will arrive before dawn along the Gulf coast and in the panhandle, then spread east across the rest of the peninsula during the day. There could be quite a temperature gradient as well, with cool air locked in place over the panhandle and north of I-10 where daytime temperatures might not warm out of the 50's, but areas near and south of the I-4 corridor should have no trouble reaching the 70's. The fast nature of the storm system will keep rainfall accumulations to generally an inch or less in most areas, so flooding is not expected to be an issue.