Torrential rainfall and stormy conditions are contributing to a risk of tornados in southern Florida.
According to the National Weather Service (NWS), a tornado watch is in effect until 5:00 a.m. EST today in Miami-Dade, Broward, Collier, Hendry, Monroe and Palm Beach counties, as well as it’s surrounding coastal waters. These include:
- The waters from Jupiter Inlet to Deerfield Beach (out 20 nautical miles)
- Deerfield Beach to Ocean Reef
- Florida Bay including Barnes Sound, Blackwater Sound and Buttonwood sound
- Bayside and Gulf side from Craig Key to West End of Seven Mile Bridge
- Gulf waters from East Cape Sable to Chokoloskee, 20 to 60 nautical miles out and beyond five fathoms
- The Gulf of Mexico from West End of Seven Mile Bridge to Halfmoon Shoal, out to five fathoms
- Hawk Channel from Ocean Reef to Craig Key out to the reef
- Hawk Channel from Craig Key to West End of Seven Mile Bridge out to the reef
- Hawk Channel from West End of Seven Mile Bridge to Halfmoon Shoal out to the reef
- Straits of Florida from Ocean Reef to Craig Key, out 20 nautical miles, and the Straits from Craig Key to West End of Seven Mile Bridge, out 20 nautical miles
- The Straits of Florida from West End of Seven Mile Bridge to the south of Halfmoon Shoal, out 20 nautical miles
- Coastal waters from Chokoloskee to Bonita Beach, out 20 nautical miles, and the coastal waters from East Cape Sable to Chokoloskee, out 20 nautical miles
A special marine warning is also in effect, issued by NWS Miami, until 3:00 a.m. EST today. According to NWS Miami, a “severe thunderstorm capable of producing waterspouts” was located over Port Everglades, near Fort Lauderdale, moving northeast at 25 knots. Wind gusts were reported to be 34 knots or greater. Further warnings were put out for Caryfort Reef Light, south of Sombrero Key Light.
Waterspouts, which is a tornado over water, can easily overturn boats and create hazardous conditions for local coastal waters and seas. Small crafts are at a higher risk due to higher winds and sudden high waves. The NWS advises that even though they are over water, these tornados can be dangerous and deadly. Any marine crafts are advised to move to a safe harbor once they’ve heard the broadcast, which was advised to be put out immediately by NWS.
A line of storms with absolutely torrential rainfall, a veritable wall of water, is now working its way from Marathon up to Long Key and Layton (MM 50-70). Nothing looks severe right now, but the risk keeps the Tornado Watch going until 5 am. #flwx#flkeyspic.twitter.com/2jtH7ygvZw
— NWS Key West (@NWSKeyWest) December 23, 2019
A flooding advisory is also in effect for the Lower Keys area due to high tides and additional rainfall of one inch.
Residents of these areas can report any severe weather updates to the Coast Guard and can keep up to date with warnings from the NWS by following its Twitter accounts, its website or signing up for Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) for your cellphone.