Weather alert: A tornado watch for Florida and Georgia

The National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, has issued a Tornado Watch for much of the Florida Panhandle, Southwest Georgia, and nearby coastal waters.

Residents in these locations should be on high alert because the main hazards include the chance of a few tornadoes and scattered severe wind gusts of up to 70 mph. A fast-moving line of thunderstorms spanning from the Florida Panhandle down into the Gulf is predicted to move eastward across the watch area this afternoon. This storm system may produce locally severe winds as well as one or two tornadoes.

The tornado watch area is approximately 50 statute miles north and south of a line that runs from 5 miles west southwest of Panama City, Florida, to 25 miles east northeast of Tallahassee, Florida. Residents can refer to the corresponding watch outline update (WOUS64 KWNS WOU2) for a more detailed representation of the watch.

Precautionary and preparatory measures are strongly suggested. A Tornado Watch indicates that conditions are favorable for tornadoes and strong thunderstorms in the watch region. Individuals in these places should remain watchful, monitor the weather conditions, and listen for any additional announcements or warnings from meteorological officials.

In terms of aviation, the weather conditions might cause tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, as well as hail up to 0.5 inches on the ground and above. Extreme turbulence and surface wind gusts reaching 60 knots are possible. A few cumulonimbus clouds with maximum tops of 450 are also forecast. The mean storm motion vector is 24040.

The NWS classified the risk zones as ‘Slight’ and ‘Marginal’. The ‘Slight Risk’ area covers approximately 11,654 square miles and has an estimated population of 814,177, including important population centers such as Tallahassee and Panama City in Florida and Thomasville in Georgia.

The ‘Marginal Risk’ area is far greater, spanning 122,892 square miles and affecting more than 21 million people, including Charlotte, Atlanta, Montgomery, Columbus, and Knoxville.

Residents in these areas should keep alert and prepared for severe weather conditions, including the risk of severe thunderstorms into the early evening, especially in the Florida Panhandle and far southwest Georgia. Isolated strong to severe storms may also affect East Tennessee and the western/central Carolinas. Stay tuned to local weather stations and warnings for the most recent information and directions.

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