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5-Day Statewide Weather Outlook for March 16 - 20, 2012

weather-graphic-03-16-2012-pmHigh Pressure to Persist Statewide Through Tuesday… Sunny Skies and Warm Temperatures to Create Great Weather for Outdoor Activities…

A Few Isolated Showers and Thunderstorms May Develop Over the Big Bend Each Afternoon Through Sunday… Areas of Fog Will Likely Develop by Dawn Each Morning… Moderate Risk of Rip Currents Along the Atlantic Coast through Tuesday…

Friday:

High pressure will dictate the weather over the state today.  Mostly sunny skies will bring pleasant and unseasonably warm conditions to the area.  The forecasted temperatures will be near record highs today in many areas of North Florida.  Overall, afternoon highs are expected to be in the mid-to-upper 80s statewide.  The exception to this is near the coasts where the seabreeze will keep temperatures a few degrees cooler.

The seabreeze will generate a 20% chance of isolated showers and possibly a thunderstorm or two for the Big Bend and South Florida today and tonight.  Severe weather,
however, is not forecast at this time, and rainfall amounts will be light.  Partly to mostly cloudy skies will create a beautiful night for all of Florida.  Overnight lows will continue to be rather warm with temperatures ranging from the mid-to-upper 50s and low 60s in North and Central Florida to low 70s along the Southeast Florida Coasts where the ocean
will heavily moderate the temperatures.  Increased moisture and calm winds will generate the possibility for patchy fog to develop over areas of the North and Central Florida, especially along the Nature Coast, by daybreak tomorrow.

Saturday-Tuesday:

The Sunshine State appears to have the luck of the Irish as far as weather is concerned for the next four days.  High pressure will persist through Tuesday bringing mostly sunny skies statewide.  This will make it a great weekend for outdoor activities such as going to the beach, having a picnic, or participating in other nature-related activities.  A few isolated showers and thunderstorms may develop over the Big Bend this weekend in association with the seabreeze, but rain chances remain at about 20% and any rainfall is expected to be localized.

Afternoon highs will continue to be warm and dry, with temperatures ranging from the low-to-mid 80s statewide each day through Tuesday.  With relative humidity being pretty low, the temperatures will feel pleasant as opposed to the summer when conditions are a bit more oppressive.  Overnight conditions also remain quite pleasant for the next few nights.  Clear and relatively calm conditions will generate the possibility of fog over the weekend for most of North and Central Florida, with particular emphasis on the West Panhandle and Nature Coast, where visibilities may decrease to under a mile or less.  Low temperatures are expected to remain in the mid-to-upper 50s for North Florida, low-to-mid 60s for Central Florida, and low 70s in Southeast Florida near the coasts.

Rip Currents:

Easterly wind flow will generate a moderate risk of rip currents along Atlantic Coast beaches through Tuesday.  A low risk of rip currents will exist for the Gulf Coast beaches extending into the Big Bend and Panhandle through Sunday, but as the winds shift on Monday, the rip current risk will also elevate to moderate levels from St. George Island westward.  Anyone who plans to enter the water should check their local rip current forecast before going to their beach destination.  Everyone should always remember that the safest beaches are the ones protected by lifeguards.

Drought & Fire Weather:

Although the forecast is for plentiful sunshine and generally beautiful weather, the lack of rainfall will do nothing to help the latest drought or fire weather conditions.  Low relative humidity values will make the temperatures feel comfortable, but they will allow the soil and vegetation to dry out, increasing fire risks.  As the weekend progresses and the winds pick up on Monday and Tuesday, expect the risk for wildfires to elevate towards high levels for the Peninsula.  The Panhandle and Big Bend will also likely see wildfire risks elevate towards moderate levels on Monday and Tuesday due to similar reasons.

According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, the entire State of Florida is still experiencing drought conditions which are forecast to persist and likely intensify.  Nearly 98% of
Florida is experiencing a moderate drought, and about 40% of the state continues to experience severe or extreme drought conditions.  The highest long-term drought values currently exist across Northeast and North Central Florida, where it is estimated that 9-12 inches of rain is needed to relieve the current long-term drought; but a glance at the Keetch-Bryam Drought Index, or short-term drought monitor, shows that short-term drought conditions are rapidly expanding across Central and South Florida due to the continued lack of rainfall. 

Due to continuing La Nina conditions which are forecast to persist through spring of 2012, a warmer than normal spring is forecast for the Southeastern U.S.  With only a 20-30% chance of relieving the drought during the next 3 months, drought conditions are forecast to worsen and expand across the entire state through May.

Have a great holiday weekend!!

Bradley Schaaf, Meteorologist
State Meteorological Support Unit
Florida Division of Emergency Management
www.FloridaDisaster.org
www.KidsGetAPlan.com

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