Severe storms two days in a row. With hail. And tornado warnings. In Florida? And I got to chase them both.
It’s been a weird week for us here in east-central Florida and the Space Coast, but the weather reflects the overall weather pattern, with the southern branch of the jet stream enhancing our chances of severe storms.On Wednesday, April 26, Alethea Kontis and I headed out west of Titusville to see the brewing storms. There was a decent chance of big hail with unusually cold temperatures aloft. We had a great view of the sky from a point on State Road 50, and as you can see in the video, there’s disturbing news about Cow, our wind-up companion.
We left our viewing spot after reviewing the radar and got on a good-looking storm a bit farther south, following it all the way to Vero Beach through horrible traffic and a lot of rain. Once we got south of it, we were able to get a couple of shots of the pretty structure from a bridge over Turkey Creek in the Palm Bay area. At this time, it was dumping drifts of small hail on parts of Melbourne, but we wanted to stay out of the core in hopes of getting photos.
There weren’t many more opportunities for that, given the territory, but we parked under an overhang in Indian Harbor Shores and waited for the hail to come to us. There was lots of it – but it was all small. Still, it felt like being in a hurricane for a few minutes, and there was lots of minor tree debris and flooding on the road afterward.
Tornado-warned storms on Day Two
The next day, April 27, I worked all day, then saw storms headed our way. They seemed promising, so I headed out to the west side of Cocoa near I-95 to take a look. I got into some small hail, then tried to get into position on a tornado-warned storm coming at me without actually getting creamed by said tornado. It was radar-indicated, and while the video shows curvature to the storm amid the deluge, I didn’t see anything tornadic.
But I dropped slightly south to Rockledge to intercept another storm, and it did a dramatic dance for me before moving east with a tornado warning on it. I hastened to the edge of the Indian River Lagoon and saw what was probably the wildest storm I’ve ever seen in Florida. The structure was fluffy and mushy and tinged with green, presumably from the hail, but a real live rotating wall cloud formed under it. It wasn’t rotating quickly, but it was stunning. Was anything happening in the murk? I wasn’t fully prepared for my “gentleman’s chase” and couldn’t really zoom in well with the lenses I had, but my imagination was working overtime seeing funnels in the gunk.
Check out the video and see what you think.
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Here are photos from both days of chasing. Roll over an image to see the caption, or click on any one to start a slide show.