Tornadoes before Christmas in South Florida? Here’s what a new cold front could bring

South Florida is looking at a nice weekend, with temperatures ranging from the lower-50s in the Redland to the upper-50s in Miami Beach.

Along with that brisk, seasonal treat, such as a high of 69 degrees Saturday, comes clear skies and, basically, near perfect outdoor weather — depending on your perspective. Some like it hot. Some would like a bit of a nip in the holiday period, as the Miami area felt with the mid-50s on Tuesday morning.

But first, some serious dues paying.

Before that cold front arrives along the eastern seaboard on Friday, South and Central Florida can expect some potentially severe thunderstorms, said Barry Baxter, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami.

These storms could bring dangerous lightning and wind gusts in the 60 to 70 mph range. There will be heavy rainfall associated with the coming front as early as late Wednesday, but more likely starting Thursday afternoon and Thursday’s evening hours.

“We can’t rule out a tornado or two either,” Baxter said as he checked out computer models at the weather service.


Lightning hazards in Florida that will be associated with storms on Dec. 19-20 preceding a coming cold front expected to arrive around Dec. 21, 2018.

National Weather Service

Even with the potential gloom in Miami-Dade and Broward, before the chill, there is some good news in all of this coming wetness.

We need it, Baxter said.

“Currently, we are in a moderate drought in South Florida,” he said. “This rain will help reduce the drought conditions — but it won’t eliminate it.”

That’s because the weather service is only predicting about an inch of rain with this system, maybe a bit higher with some isolated events, Baxter said.

As for the beaches, only the hardier souls dip their toes in the ocean when December comes, but for those who do, note this: Rip currents on all of South Florida’s beaches will likely increase as the system approaches and affects the area. Some minor coastal flooding during the late-week high tides is also possible as westerly winds whip up the seas.

By Sunday afternoon expect a gradual rewarming, with a high of 72. On Nochebuena Monday, along with clear skies into Christmas Day on Tuesday, it should hit 74 degrees.