TROPICAL STORM NESTOR FORMS IN GULF; LOCAL IMPACTS TO BE LIMITED TO HEAVY RAIN AT TIMES… Just in as of 1PM CDT, Tropical Storm Nestor has officially formed in the central Gulf of Mexico. Maximum winds have increased to 60 mph, making Nestor a moderate to strong tropical storm. Further intensification may happen over the next 12 hours before Nestor makes landfall, although the system is expected to remain below hurricane strength. The assessment of local impacts across south Alabama and northwest Florida remains unchanged: Heavy rain will be possible at times, specifically closer to the coast and farther to the east. There is a tornado risk setting up to our east across parts of the Florida Panhandle (east of Walton County), but tornadoes are NOT expected locally in south Alabama or for places in northwest Florida WEST of Walton County. Wind impacts locally will be limited to the immediate beach zones where 30-40 mph wind gusts may happen through Saturday morning. Minor coastal flooding and dangerous rip currents are also a concern near the immediate beaches.
LIGHT TO MODERATE RAIN HAPPENING IN COASTAL COUNTIES NOW… A quick check of the local radar as of 1PM reveals light to moderate rain is happening across parts of Mobile, Baldwin, Escambia (FL), Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton counties. Rain will continue in these counties and likely spread farther inland in the hours ahead, specifically in communities along and east of Interstate 65.
FRIDAY AFTERNOON DISCUSSION ABOUT LOCAL IMPACTS… This is unchanged since this morning: Heavy rain will become increasingly likely this afternoon and evening, particularly across coastal counties. Rain will progressively spread inland throughout the evening. The tornado risk across southwest Alabama and northwest Florida east of Walton County remains at or near zero. Gusty (30-50 mph) winds will be possible at the Alabama and northwest Florida beaches this evening into Saturday. Wind impacts are not expected across inland areas at this time, but there will be a breeze from the east today into Saturday. Confidence is high that rain amounts will be highest south and east of Interstate 65 on Friday into Saturday where 2-4” of rain in total could happen. This will be beneficial, drought-alleviating rain.
FOOTBALL FORECAST FOR TONIGHT… The thinking has not changed. Rain is most likely to be happening in coastal counties, but by the time we get to 8 and 9PM, we could have heavy rain areawide, including in most inland locations. We note that Baldwin County, AL Schools have postponed all of their high school football games until Saturday. Escambia County, FL Schools have cancelled most of their high school football games. Santa Rosa County Schools have cancelled their football games as well. The best chance for a dry football game tonight will happen in west Alabama in Washington, Choctaw, and Clarke counties, although even in those counties we could have some showers.
I’ll have updates throughout the afternoon and evening in the RedZone Weather app. My next long form discussion will be later this evening. See you then!