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Severe storms, strong winds expected in the Panhandle Saturday night

Strong storms are possible over Florida’s western Panhandle on Saturday night. The threat arises ahead of a storm system that is developing over the southern Plains.

On Saturday morning, a center of low pressure was positioned over eastern Texas. At the same time, a disturbance in the upper levels of the atmosphere was dipping from the Four Corners into west/central Texas. These features are expected to continue fueling a dynamic storm system with widespread heavy rain, strong winds, and isolated tornado producing thunderstorms, over the Central Gulf Coast and Mississippi Valley.

Storms are modeled to edge into the Mobile Bay and Pensacola area after sunset on Saturday. Overnight Saturday into the pre-dawn hours of Sunday, this line of thunderstorms is projected to track eastward toward Panama City and the Forgotten Coast. By mid-morning Sunday onward, the line is expected to begin weakening, as the main center of low-pressure lifts northward. Still, a few gusty thunderstorms are possible over the Big Bend and North Central Florida.

Forecasters at the Storm Prediction Center say that portions of the Panhandle are under a slight risk, or level two out of five, for severe thunderstorms tonight. The main hazards, according to these specialists, are damaging straight line winds and brief tornadoes. In addition, heavy rain rates could inundate the environment, and parts of the Panhandle are under a marginal risk for flash flooding.

A Wind Advisory has also been issued for Escambia, Okaloosa, and Santa Rosa Counties. This alert will be valid from 6 PM CST Saturday until 6 AM CST Sunday. Winds across the region are expected to increase, (regardless of thunderstorms) and gusts could reach 40 mph.

Residents in the Panhandle are encouraged to monitor the forecast and conditions in their immediate area. If warnings are issued, follow the appropriate safety and sheltering procedures.