Late-winter showers to sour spring break for parts of Florida

Showers and thunderstorms have Florida in their sights into early next week, but even though the rain will be helpful in the battle against ongoing drought conditions, its timing will not be ideal for spring break revelers, according to AccuWeather meteorologists.

A cold front will sweep across the Southeast through Sunday, but its progress will be slow. The front reached the Florida Panhandle late Friday afternoon, even producing a couple of reported tornadoes when waterspouts came ashore along parts of Walton and Bay counties. The front will now take its time to push southeast through the remainder of the state, AccuWeather meteorologists say.

As it does so, thunderstorms will dampen areas such as Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and Daytona Beach, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Michael Youman. This threat reached places like Fort Myers and Cape Canaveral during Saturday evening.

During the day on Sunday, showers and thunderstorms should remain largely focused on the southern half or so of Florida as cities such as Jacksonville and Ocala likely dry out. However, a disturbance within the upper levels of the atmosphere could be enough to pull showers a bit farther north once again by Sunday night.

Although additional severe weather is not expected at this time, those planning on going to the beach or participating in outdoor activities will have to be on the lookout for lightning, and seek shelter when needed, according to Youman. Rain gear may also be necessary.


Also notable will be the temperature drops behind the front in some spots, as cities such as Tampa and Orlando will experience high temperatures that fall from the upper 70s to mid-80s F on Saturday all the way down to the lower 60s on Sunday. These Sunday highs will be 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit below the historical average, making for unseasonable conditions that might even come as a shock to those celebrating spring break as the Sunshine State fails to live up to that nickname.

Even though the timing won't necessarily be the greatest for anyone planning to be out and about over the weekend, this will be a welcome, much-needed rainfall event. Most of Florida is currently experiencing a drought as of March 16, according to the United States Drought Monitor, and the vast majority of the Florida Peninsula is in the midst of a moderate drought, the second level of drought conditions on that scale.

Indeed, Orlando is facing a rainfall deficit of over 4 inches so far this year as of March 17, only receiving 1.99 inches of rain compared to the normal 6.03. Tampa is even farther behind so far in 2023, with only 2.25 inches of rain compared to the year-to-date average of 6.61 inches.

By Monday, much of the remaining shower activity should be offshore, but parts of Florida could continue to have showers and thunderstorms, especially in far southern zones and along the Atlantic Coast. Additional drying appears likely on Tuesday as the front departs.

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