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Posted on: January 8, 2024

(UPDATED) Potentially severe storms heading our way tonight

A graphic depicting potentially severe storms coming to our area beginning Monday evening.

A graphic depicting potentially severe storms coming to our area beginning Monday evening.

Monday 11:45 a.m. update from Okaloosa County Public Safety Director Patrick Maddox:

We have concluded our briefing with the National Weather Service. 

Confidence is high in a multi-hazard, significant weather event beginning today and lasting through Tuesday morning. Timing on the first round will involve 30-40 mph gusts arriving as early as 4 p.m. today with storms beginning to lift North from the Gulf in the evening hours. 

The wind profile with this system is significant, and even non-thunderstorm winds can have 40-50 mph embedded gusts inland with 60 mph gusts possible near the coast. 

These storms will be working until the second round, the main QLCS (Quasi Linear Convective System) “squall line." moves in from the West. This main line of storms will be impacting our area in the 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. range and clear the area by 9 a.m. This system is expected to have 25-30MPH sustained winds with gusts of 70 mph or more in the stronger cells. Strong tornadoes and hail are possible. Expect Severe Thunderstorm and/or Tornado Warnings and have multiple ways to receive emergency information.  

Rain in the 2-3” range is expected, but due to the speed of the system, flash flooding concerns would be limited to low-lying areas. Winds will begin to abate quickly after the front moves through, but gusts to 30 are possible through 2 p.m. Tuesday. Minor coastal flooding is possible but will quickly abate after the front passes by. High surf and a high risk of rip currents are likely beginning this evening. Marine zones could see seas 13 to 17 feet offshore and 3 to 5 feet in the bays.

Of note is that we will be in elevated, non-thunderstorm winds for many hours, combined with heavy rain, prior to the arrival of the main squall line. This elevates the concern for downed trees and powerlines. 

Expect power outages and a lack of lights at intersections. The morning commute could be very messy. Okaloosa County will activate our Emergency Operation Center at midnight to Modified Level 2- EM staff only, for response coordination. Attached are the slides from the NWS briefing. We continue to monitor.

*Previous advisory from early Monday morning*
Based on forecasting information from the National Weather Service, Okaloosa County Public Safety Director Patrick Maddox sent out a local advisory this morning warning of potential impacts to our area from an approaching storm system.
Impact 1 - Severe Thunderstorms 
WHAT: Two rounds of strong to severe storms are possible with the potential for damaging winds in excess of 70 mph and tornadoes. A few strong tornadoes (EF-2+) will be possible. The second round will be the more substantial and higher confidence round.
WHEN: The greatest threat begins around midnight Monday and persists through Tuesday morning. 
WHERE: The entire area with the highest potential along and south of the Interstate 10 corridor. 
CONFIDENCE: Continues to increase.  
Impact 2 - Marine Impacts
WHAT:  Conditions will rapidly increase to widespread storm conditions (frequent gusts >48 knots) likely across all marine zones. Seas 13 to 17 feet offshore and 3 to 5 feet within the bays.  
WHEN: Tonight through Tuesday night.
WHERE:  Across all marine waters.
CONFIDENCE:  Confidence is high in a significant marine hazard threat. 
Impact 3 - Wind Impacts
WHAT: Frequent wind gusts between 40 to 50 mph inland with wind gusts up to 60 mph along the coast.  These conditions will likely lead to power outages and downed trees before any severe storms arrive.
WHEN: Tonight through mid-day Tuesday.
WHERE: 40 to 50 mph gusts inland approaching 55 to 60 mph along the coast.
CONFIDENCE: Confidence is high in high winds occurring. 
Impact 4 - Coastal Impacts
WHAT: Dangerous surf up to 10-13 feet, dangerous rip currents, minor to potentially moderate coastal flooding. 
WHEN: This evening through Tuesday 
WHERE: All area beaches with coastal flooding occurring within flood-prone areas.

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