All-time February temperature records tied or broken in Tampa, Melbourne

CFL hi temps Tuesday

Highs in southwest Florida are forecast to reach 90 on Tuesday. (Credit: NWS-TampaBay)

It was a scorching 88 degrees in Tampa on Monday — setting a new record for the date and tying a record for the warmest temperature ever recorded in February.

The old record high for February 19 was 86, set in 1997. The all-time February high of 88 was previously set on February 26, 1971.

Sarasota set record high with 87, breaking the previous mark of 86 set in 1990.

Across the state, Melbourne’s low of 73 smashed the previous record warm low for the date of 69 set in 1949. The low is also the warmest minimum temperature ever recorded during the month of February in Melbourne, according to the National Weather Service.

More record warmth was possible Tuesday and Wednesday, forecasters said.

Tuesday morning’s run of the GFS model continues to suggest some cooler temperatures arriving in Florida during the first week of March, although the Climate Prediction Center is still calling for above normal temperatures in Florida through March 5.

Cold temperatures are not unheard of in March — Miami’s all-time March low is 32, for example; ditto in Fort Lauderdale. The all-time March low in West Palm Beach is 26; 33 in Naples. After the first week of the month, though, most record lows in South Florida are in the 40s.

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Excessive rainfall outlook

The nation’s mid-section is in for some very heavy rain through Wednesday. (Credit: NOAA/ WPC)

FLOODING RAINS FORECAST: While high pressure maintains its grip on Florida, moisture from the Gulf of Mexico is sweeping up into the Central U.S., bringing rains of up to 7 inches or more through the Mississippi Valley from Arkansas north to Illinois and Indiana, according to NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center.

A swath from northeastern Texas through Arkansas and up to St. Louis is under a Moderate Risk for very heavy rainfall, as well as northeastern Illinois, northwestern Indiana and southeastern Michigan.

The rain is expected to fall through Wednesday night.

In Florida, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for below normal precipitation through at least March 5. February is likely to end with rainfall deficits throughout the peninsula, with the possible exception of the Tampa area, which was hit with heavy rain at the start of the month.

 

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Sea level rise accelerating, disturbing new study reveals

Miami_Beach_high_tide_flooding_45

High tide flooding is already common in Miami Beach, above, and other barrier islands on Florida’s coasts. (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Sea level rise, triggered by melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica — and exacerbated by warming ocean water — is actually picking up steam as we close in on the third decade of the 21st century.

The end result by 2100 may be sea levels that are double previous projections that assumed a more constant rate.

A new study by the University of Colorado at Boulder looked at 25 years of satellite data and concluded that the pace of sea level rise is about 0.08 mm per year. But by 2100, it’s expected to be 10 mm per year, “or even more,” the university said in a news release.

“Our extrapolation assumes that sea level continues to change in the future as it has over the last 25 years,” said Steve Nerem, professor of Aerospace Engineering Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. “Given the large changes we are seeing in the ice sheets today, that’s not likely.”

The researchers now estimate that oceans will rise by more than 2 feet — 26 inches — by the end of the century, “enough to cause significant problems for coastal cities,” the university said.

Researchers from the University of South Florida, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Old Dominion University, and the National Center for Atmospheric Researcher also participated in the study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Most people think of melting ice flowing into the oceans as the main culprit behind rising sea levels. But there’s also a second factor — as ocean water warms, it expands. Warmer water has contributed about half of the 7 cm global sea level rise over the past 25 years, according to Nerem.

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Tampa forecast

THE HEAT GOES ON: Florida’s warm February heads into its third full week with no signs of letting up. (Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

RECORD WATCH: Three high temperature records were tied or broken around Florida on Sunday. Naples tied a record high for the date with 86, matching the mark set in 1984.

In the panhandle, Tallahassee, tied a record high with 83, matching the record set in 1956. Apalachicola set a new record with 78, smashing a 73-year-old record of 76 set back in 1945.

Key West on pace for third-warmest February; early week rain may clip South Florida

Key West Feb temps

(Image credit: NWS-Key West)

It definitely looks like February is headed for the record books around the state, and this analysis by the National Weather Service in Key West provides an early indication of where we stand.

So far, with an average overall temperature of 75.9, February in Key West is tied with 1932 for the third-warmest on record. It’s only three-tenths of a degree away from second place and a little more than a degree off the warmest February ever recorded in Key West in 1959.

No big changes in the weather pattern are in the long-range forecast by the GFS forecast model through the end of the month, so top-10-warm Februarys are possible for several cities from Miami to Tampa and over to Orlando.

However, Sunday’s run of the GFS shows some cooler temperatures finally sliding into the Florida peninsula the first week of March. That’s the longest of the long-range, so we’ll have to see how those forecasts evolve.

AccuWeather is calling for normal temps the first week of March, with continued dry conditions.

And NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center forecast more above-normal temperatures in March for all of the Florida peninsula — excluding the panhandle — in its outlook issued on Thursday.

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Frog in rain guage

FROG ADVISORY FOR FLORIDA’S EAST COAST: National Weather Service forecasters in Melbourne found an unexpected visitor in their rain gauge on Saturday. “Can’t get rain in the gauge lately, but we can get frogs!” they said in a Facebook post. (Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

This time of the year, rainfall is usually associated with cold fronts moving south down the peninsula. This hasn’t been an ordinary month in Florida, and the first “appreciable rain chances” since the early days of February will be generated by a system moving up from the south, the National Weather Service says.

According to NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center, the most significant rain will be around the southern tip of the peninsula and through the Keys, but lighter precipitation may reach as far north as a line from Fort Myers to West Palm Beach.

A few showers may linger in South Florida into Tuesday, forecasters said.

Most areas in South and Central Florida haven’t had any measurable rainfall since February 9, and precipitation deficits of up to an inch-and-a-half are building up along Florida’s East Coast.

Vero Beach ties record high; South Florida scientists turn mosquito matchmakers

Satellite image FL

IN THE CLEAR: Friday’s satellite image tells the tale: Florida is under a large area of high pressure that’s keeping cold fronts and other nasty weather to the north. The spring-like conditions are forecast to continue for the foreseeable future, with highs in the 80s around most of the peninsula and lows only in the low- to mid-70s on Florida’s southeast coast. The weekend looks toasty everywhere — including Central Florida and the East-Central Coast. (Image credits: NOAA, above; NWS-Melbourne, below)

CFL weekend forecast

RECORD WATCH: Friday’s high in Vero Beach was 84, which tied a record high for the date set in 1987.

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Aedes_aegypti_biting_human

Scientists are trying to take a bite out of the South Florida mosquito population with a program that introduces males into the community that are unable to produce offspring. The release will intensify as we head toward the rainy season. (Image credit: United States Department of Agriculture via Wikimedia Commons)

HERE’S THE BUZZ: South Florida folks are slapping and swatting throughout the year, since mosquitoes are a nuisance in any season. But the Zika outbreak has prompted researchers to take an unprecedented approach to reducing the population — by releasing more mosquitoes.

Not just any mosquitoes, however. These are males infected with a bacterium, Wolbachia pipientis, which prevents offspring from developing after an infected (and imported) bug mates with a member of the local female population.

The release began last week in South Miami and it’s expected to pick up as we approach the rainy season, according to WLRN Public Radio in Miami.

“They’re going to release approximately two-thirds of a billion male mosquitoes,” South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard told the station. “The way this works is you have to release a lot more of these males than existing natural males because you want these mosquitoes to be the ones to find the females, not the natural male. So you really have to swap out the natural male population and make it hard for our local male mosquitoes to get a date.”

The program will run at least until the end of July and perhaps beyond. The hope is to reduce the population of mosquitoes that carry diseases.

A pilot program was initiated last year in the Florida Keys, but on a very small-scale. A similar program was launched in Fresno, California last year as well. Determining its long-range effectiveness will likely take some time.

NOAA March forecast: More unusually warm and dry weather for Florida

A warm March for South Florida, left, was forecast by the Climate Prediction Center Thursday, while the 90-day precipitation forecast calls for dry conditions in all of Florida through May. (Credit: NOAA/ CPC)

Expect more above-normal temperatures in March, particularly in the southern half of the Florida peninsula, forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said in their new long-range forecast released Thursday.

After a cool January, February has been above-normal around the state — significantly warmer than usual in places like Orlando and Tampa — and it looks like the meteorological spring will pick up where winter leaves off on March 1. (Meteorological spring runs from March 1-May 31.)

Dry conditions are finally taking hold this month across the peninsula, and the CPC is calling for below-normal precipitation statewide, not only across the peninsula but in the panhandle as well, right into May.

In Miami, high temperatures average 79-82 in March; 76-80 in Orlando and 74-78 in Tampa.

As a result of last weekend’s torrential rains in the Florida panhandle, drought conditions eased dramatically in areas west of Tallahassee. But nine counties are still in — or partially in — Moderate Drought, according to the latest assessment by the U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday.

Severe Drought has disappeared, but much of the panhandle remains Abnormally Dry.

The peninsula has managed to avoid drought conditions this winter despite forecasts warning of drought development due to the La Niña in the tropical Pacific. But significant rainfall in January kept most of the state on an even keel.

That luck may be running out in February.

Miami and Naples are more than an inch behind in rainfall; and Fort Lauderdale’s and West Palm beach’s deficits are approaching an inch-and-a-half.

The Keys are about a half-inch to an inch short; and East-Central Florida locations are running deficits of around an inch. Tampa and a few areas on the West Coast, hammered by heavy rain the first weekend of the month, have slight precipitation surpluses for February.

SFL weekend forecast

Another spring-like weekend is on the horizon in South Florida. (Credit: NWS-Miami)

Tornadoes slam North Florida; penguins prep for solar eclipse

WFL forecast

ON HIATUS: Wednesday was another warm day around the Florida peninsula, but for the first time in several days no records were set. Overnight lows cooled to 72 degrees along South Florida’s East Coast, while the East-Central Coast bottomed out in the (slightly) more seasonal mid-60s. Naples still hit 87 degrees while Miami was 83, Tampa checked in at 80 and Orlando reported a high of 78. (Credit: NWS-TampaBay)

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DESTRUCTIVE STORMS IN NORTH FLORIDA: We haven’t heard much about tornadoes in Florida during this La Niña winter. But Sunday’s torrential rains in the Florida panhandle ended up spawning two tornadoes, one of which caused structural damage, according to the National Weather Service.

The first touched down in Holmes county, northwest of Tallahassee, at 2:53 a.m. north of Caryville and tore a 4.8-mile path 100 yards wide.

“Two barns were destroyed and one brick car port that was attached to a house was destroyed,” the National Weather Service in Tallahassee reported. “The roof of this house was mostly gone. There was one minor injury.”

Just to the east, in Jackson County, a tornado briefly touched down near Graceville, causing minor roof damage.

Note that next week is the 20th anniversary of the February 1998 Central Florida tornado outbreak — the deadliest in the state’s history. Seven tornadoes tore through the region, killing 42 and injuring more than 260. The outbreak occurred February 22-23 between 11 p.m. and 2:30 a.m.

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ONE FOR THE BIRDS: The first solar eclipse since last summer’s historic event in the U.S. — a partial one — takes place at the bottom of the world today. Its most dramatic effects will only be visible to penguins — and a few researchers at facilities in Antarctica.

But some residents of the southern part of South America will catch a glimpse of the eclipse near sunset on Thursday. Countries involved include Chile, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, according to Space.com.

Tampa and Orlando running almost 10 degrees above normal for February

WFL forecast

(Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

Florida’s February weather has been food for table talk lately, with records falling almost every day. With the month at the half-way point, where exactly do we stand?

Comparing monthly average temperatures with climate history data from The Southeast Regional Climate Center at the University of North Carolina, if the trend continues it looks like some sites may have their warmest February on record. Or close to it.

Orlando and Tampa are the cities most above average so far this month, with each running almost 10 degrees above normal.

Here’s the breakdown:

SOUTH FLORIDA: Miami 6.6 degrees above normal with an average high of 82 and an average low of 70. West Palm Beach plus-7.2 80 and 69; Naples, plus-7.9, 83 64. Fort Lauderdale plus-3.9 79 and 70.

Key West plus-5.4, 80 and 72.

These are highs typical late March and lows typical of late April.

EAST-CENTRAL FLORIDA: Fort Pierce plus-7.0, 79 and 62; Vero Beach plus-7.0, 79 and 62; Orlando plus-9.8, 79 and 64; Daytona Beach plus-7.4, 75 and 58.

WEST COAST: Tampa plus-9.8, 81 and 63; Fort Myers plus-7.7, 84 and 63.

NORTH FLORIDA: Jacksonville plus-6.6; 72 and 51; Gainesville plus-6.2, 74 and 51.

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TROPICS TALK: Tropical Cyclone Gita powered up into a monster Category 4 storm earlier this week and pounded the South Pacific island nation of Tonga with a direct hit, according to Weather Underground.

Gita slammed American Samoa on Friday and caused massive damage, and the island group was declared a disaster by President Trump.

The storm was losing its punch at mid-week, but its remnants were expected to hammer New Zealand with heavy rain on Monday.

Water temperatures off New Zealand are record warm, helped by the nation’s warmest month ever recorded in January, Weather Underground’s Jeff Masters said.