Warmest December temp ever recorded in Jacksonville

Record highs also set or tied in Melbourne, Sanford, Fort Myers, Marathon and Key West

Temperature records were broken up and down the Florida peninsula on Tuesday ahead of a cold front that’s expected to bring the first significant rainfall of the month.

Jacksonville’s high of 85 not only broke the record high for December 10 — 82, set in 1961 — but tied the all-time warmest temperature ever recorded in December. That happened in 2016.

Melbourne set a new record high with 86, beating the old record of 85 set in 2013; and Sanford tied a record high with 85 (last set in 2013).

On the southwest coast, Fort Myers beat a 33-year-old record high with 88; the previous record was 87 set in 1986.

Down in the Keys, Key West tied a record high with 84, matching the mark set in 2009. Marathon’s high of 86 tied a record set in 2004.

Record warm lows were set or tied in Miami (75); Fort Lauderdale (76); and Key West (78).

How long will the warm spell last? Temperatures will moderate over the upcoming week, according to the National Weather Service, as clouds and rain move in. A relatively wet period, at least by December standards, appears to be in the cards until at least early next week.

Forecasters are predicting the next temperature-dropping front to slide across the peninsula by the middle of next week, dropping highs into the low 70s and lows around 60 in South Florida. Highs are expected to be in the 60s in Central Florida with lows in the upper 40s and 50s. Overnight lows in the 30s return to North Florida.

Meanwhile, forecasters have been nudging up forecast rainfall totals. Here are the high-end forecasts for South Florida and East-Central Florida:

ECFL high end 3 day

Maximum forecast rainfall for East-Central Florida (above) and South Florida (below). Image credits: NWS-Melbourne/ NWS-Miami)

SFL high end 3 day rain

NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center projects highest seven-day totals on the East Coast around northern Palm Beach County and southern Martin County; and in the panhandle.

In addition, the Storm Prediction Center has most of Florida under a Marginal Risk for severe weather through Friday.

Week-ending rains expected to bust December dry spell

With Moderate Drought edging into South Florida and Abnormally Dry conditions taking control in Central Florida, we’ll take whatever precip nature can squeeze out during December, normally one of the driest months.

South Florida reporting sites have had only sprinkles so far this month. West Palm Beach is at the bottom end with just 0.01 of an inch thus far, with about a third of the month already in the books.

That’s also true in Central Florida, where a few hundredths of an inch have fallen. North Florida is even worse shape — Jacksonville reports only a trace of rain this month and Gainesville has been bone dry.

So a potentially wetter forecast is welcome news, even if this is the time of the year when lots of outdoor activities are schedule due to the cooler temperatures.

A stalled front is expected to jump start December rainfall through much of the peninsula, and a second front toward the end of the weekend may add to the precipitation totals. Predicting rainfall totals is notoriously difficult for forecasters, but here’s what things look like in South Florida and Central Florida over the next three to 10 days:

SFL forecast precip

(Image credits: NWS-Miami, above; NWS-Melbourne, below)

ECFL forecast precip

North Florida and the panhandle can also expect some wetter weather over the next week or so, according to NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center, with the heftiest totals in the western panhandle.

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PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE: The National Weather Service in Miami issued the 2019-2020 winter edition of its Tropical Winds Newsletter Monday, with a look back at our narrow miss with Hurricane Dorian, as well as a look forward to the upcoming winter season.

With neither El Niño or La Niña present in the Tropical Pacific — two phenomena that have big impacts on Florida weather — forecasters are calling for pretty much normal dry season conditions across South Florida in terms of precipitation, potential for severe weather and potential for a freeze. Temperatures, though, are forecast to be above normal, which has been the trend over the past several seasons.

Here’s the skinny:

SFL dry season outlook

(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

With respect to Dorian, it always eye-opening to run the photo showing the catastrophic Category 5 hurricane rolling toward the Florida peninsula just before it stalled over the northern coast of Grand Bahama Island.

The highest wind gust in South Florida was 61 mph at the Juno Beach Pier, but Cape Canaveral had gusts closer to hurricane force. This was indeed the definition of a close call.

Hurricane Dorian

(Image credit: NOAA)

‘Muggy’ weather makes a December return; one positive effect of climate change

Montana winter wonder

PICTURE PERFECT: The National Weather Service in Key West is known for posting idyllic scenes on its websites and social media — often a sailboat at sunset framed by swaying coconut palms. But this was the unlikely picture on the agency’s Facebook page on Monday: a dramatic winter wonderland from the mountains of Montana. “What do you prefer,” Key West forecasters asked, “nearly year-round summer like Dry Tortugas National Park or some nice winter scenes like Glacier National Park?” (Image credit: NWS-Missoula)

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Air conditioners should be ready for a mid-December workout as high pressure slides over the peninsula this week, driving temperatures as high as the upper 80s in inland parts of South Florida.

Not only are temps headed up, but so are humidity levels.

“Tuesday afternoon,” the National Weather Service in Miami said Monday, “could feel muggy and uncomfortable at times, especially over interior and West Coast areas. This will further push afternoon highs into warmer values, with low-mid 80s over the eastern half of SoFlo, and in the upper 80s for the west-interior and Gulf coast.”

Tuesday’s forecast high in Immokalee, inland Collier County, is 86. Already on Sunday, an observation station managed by the National Park Service in Big Cypress National Preserve just north of Alligator Alley, reported a high of 87.

Crank up the AC in Orlando, too, where Tuesday’s forecast high is 85. Tampa is expecting a high of 82, but then temperatures start moderating as a cold front moves into the peninsula and stalls out north of Lake Okeechobee, according to forecasters.

That keeps South Florida in the warm air, and highs return to the 80s, with temps falling to the upper 70s late in the weekend.

Jax forecast record high

Record breaking or near-record temperatures are expected in Jacksonville on Tuesday. (Image credit: NWS-Jacksonville)

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A LOOK AT THE SUNNY SIDE: Climate change isn’t all bad — warmer temperatures can enhance crop yields, a new study shows.

While Florida struggles with rising sea levels, and prepares to dole out big bucks in order to elevate roads and highways, scientists have often speculated that milder temperatures can be crop friendly.

Yields for oilseed rape, which is planted in fall in the United Kingdom and then flowers in spring, may be up to 30 percent higher due to warm October weather, according to scientists at The John Innes Centre, an independent, international center for researching plant science, genetics and microbiology.

“By establishing the link between autumn temperatures and yield, our study highlights an example of climate change being potentially useful to farmers. Cold Octobers have a negative effect on yield if you are growing oilseed rape, and these are now rarer,” says Professor Steve Penfield an author of the study.

Penfield and colleagues found that the plants stop growing following a “floral transition” at the end of October. Warmer temperatures allow the plant to grow for longer, increasing the potential for higher yields.

Forecasters see December warmth after cool start to the month

WK34temp.gif

DECEMBER WARMTH: Most of the country is headed for a run of above normal temperatures for the rest of the month,  the Climate Prediction Center said Friday. (Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

Think the U.S. is headed for a cold winter? Maybe not … at least the first month of meteorological winter is forecast to go out with above normal temperatures everywhere … with the exception of the Desert Southwest and Northern New England.

The four-week outlook, through January 3, was issued Friday.

The ultra-long-range climate forecast models show above normal temperatures hanging on in Florida through most of January as well.

It’s another reminder that just because the cold weather season starts out nasty — with below normal temperatures and snow slamming much of the country in late November — that’s not necessarily a sign of things to come.

Of course winter is winter, and the GFS depicts — for now, at least — a potent snow storm plastering the Upper Midwest and Northeast in the days leading up to Christmas.

The story in Florida for the first week of December: cool and dry, with temperatures ranging 5-6 degrees below normal in South Florida and East-Central Florida; around – 3 degrees in the Tampa area; and – 2 degrees in North Florida and the panhandle.

WCFL forecast temps

NICE: A pleasant week with warm temperatures is coming up for most areas of the Florida peninsula, except that a potentially stalled front toward the middle of the week could bring some (much needed) rain. (Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

No complaints: ‘Another great day for outdoor plans’

ECFL temps

(Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

Warm days with plenty of sunshine, mild nights with a cool breeze.

“We don’t think we’ll be hearing too many complaints about this weekend’s weather in South Florida,” the National Weather Service in Miami said on its Facebook page Saturday. “Enjoy!”

That goes for the entire peninsula and the Keys as well. Temps will be close to seasonal with lots of sunshine, although clouds will move into North Florida on Sunday.

Weekend forecast for Miami: 77 and 78 on Saturday and Sunday, with lows Sunday morning around 70. Orlando, 75 and 77, with a low Sunday morning of 62; Tampa, 76 and 79, low 59; and Jacksonville, 70 and 71, with a low of 56.

Jacksonville is the only city where rain is mentioned in the forecast — there’s a 20 percent chance of a shower on Sunday.

Key West: 77 and 79 on Saturday and Sunday, with a low of 70 on Sunday morning.

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TURNING POINT: It’s still two weeks before the winter solstice — December 21 has the shortest amount of overall daylight for the year — but days are already getting longer in the evening in Florida.

The day before Thanksgiving, sunset was at 5:26 p.m., but on Thursday that ticked up a notch to 5:27 p.m. Those are the numbers for Palm Beach, which is the farthest east point on the Florida peninsula.

On Wednesday, the sun sets at 5:28 and by the time New Year’s Eve rolls around, the sun will be setting at 5:37. The march toward later sunsets continues all the way until July 9, when the sun sets at 8:17 p.m.

How do we get to the shortest day of the year then if sunsets keep getting later in December? It’s because sunrise keep getting later until January 17, when the sun comes up at 7:10 a.m. After that date, the days lengthen at both ends in tandem.

At The Old Farmer’s Almanac, blogger Bob Berman discussed this phenomenon around the nation in an article posted on the publication’s website on Friday.

Warmest fall on record in Miami, Naples

FL fall temps

(Image credit: NOAA/ NWS-Miami)

Temperatures in the second half of November cooled down dramatically in South Florida and elsewhere in the state, but it was the nevertheless the warmest fall on record in Miami and Naples, the National Weather Service in Miami said in a report Thursday.

It was the third-warmest meteorological autumn — which runs from September 1 to November 30 — in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

Miami also had the second-driest autumn on record, with 8.08 inches measured at Miami International Airport. That’s 11.38 inches below normal for September through November.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport checked in with 10.57 inches of rain, a short fall of 8.08 inches. That made it the 11th driest fall since record keeping began in Fort Lauderdale in 1911.

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DROUGHT MOVES INTO SOUTH FLORIDA: Parts of four South Florida counties are struggling with Moderate Drought, the U.S. Drought Monitor said Thursday. Most of South Florida remains Abnormally Dry, with the exception of eastern Broward and eastern Palm Beach counties.

Up the East Coast, most of Martin and almost all of St. Lucie counties have been designated as Abnormally Dry.

Areas newly designated with Moderate Drought include northwest Miami-Dade, western Broward, northeast Mainland Monroe and southeastern Collier. A tiny slice of southwestern Palm Beach County is also under Moderate Drought.

Most of Central Florida remains Abnormally Dry and most of the panhandle is under a Moderate Drought designation.

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COLD OPEN: South Florida has had four days in a row with below normal temperatures and the first week of December is running up to 7 degrees below average (Fort Lauderdale). Ditto for Central Florida, where Orlando is almost 5 degrees below average for the new month. Tampa is 3.5 degrees below average so far in December.

On Friday morning, it was in the 60s in the Keys, the upper 50s on both South Florida coasts, and the upper 40s northwest of Lake Okeechobee to near 50 in the Orlando area.

North Florida was in the 30s, but there were no freezing temperatures on the Weather Underground map and in fact it was actually warmer in the western panhandle with temps in the upper 40s — a sign of the warmer air to come this weekend, perhaps.

A real warming trend begins Saturday when winds begin drawing warmer and more humid air off the Atlantic. A cold front entering North Florida this weekend won’t make into South or Central Florida, the National Weather Service says. Another front by mid-week probably will make it down the peninsula, bringing a few showers, but northeasterly winds should keep temperatures closer to normal for the end of next week, according to forecasters.

Report on sea level rise costs in Florida Keys shocks officials, residents

key-west-flooding

High tides caused street flooding in Key West on October 2. Impacts ranged from the Florida Keys up the East Coast to Miami and Palm Beach. (Image credit: William Churchill/ NWS-Key West)

Florida is one of the first places in the country to wrestle with sea level rise — and a new report issued Wednesday suggests that costs could be astronomical.

Monroe County officials may abandon parts of Sugarloaf Key to rising water after the report showed the price tag for elevating roads was far higher than officials had expected, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

The county is faced with building up the elevation of 300 miles of roads in order to keep them dry during seasonal high tides and storms. Flooding has already become a problem in the Keys and in parts of coastal South Florida.

The results looked at 3 miles of Old State Road 4A, which runs from the southern tip of Sugarloaf Key to Sugarloaf Boulevard, which then connects to State Road A1A. Sugarloaf Key is about 15 miles up the road from Key West.

The road would need to be raised by 1.3 feet to keep it dry by 2025 at a cost of $75 million, and costs increase to $128 million by 2060, The Times reported. About two dozen homes would be affected.

Monroe County Mayor Heather Carruthers said: “We can’t protect every single house.”

Officials are discussing ferry service for residents as an alternative.

More than $1 billion may be required to adapt all of Monroe County roads to rising sea levels, and “local governments will have to make tough decisions on which streets they plant to elevate,” the Key West Citizen said Thursday.

“That could mean some residents may have to live with flooding.”

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LET THE WARM-UP BEGIN: It was in the mid-50s on the southeast coast on Thursday morning, the upper 40s in the interior and the low 50s on the southwest coast. The Keys were in the upper 60s.

Areas north of Lake Okeechobee were a little warmer than Wednesday morning, with temps generally in the mid-40s, and there were even a few scattered low 50s south of Orlando. But areas northwest of Orlando were in the upper 30s, and there were some unofficial readings below freezing in the Lake City area.

The panhandle was mostly in the mid-30s.

After another cool day on Thursday, a real warm-up begins Friday when temperatures top out in the upper 70s around most of South Florida, the National Weather Service in Miami says.

The next cold front that will likely impact Florida’s weather by the middle of next week, forecasters said, although a front is expected to push in to North Florida on Friday but stall out.

National Weather Service forecasts only run through Wednesday of next week, but Weather Underground’s 10-day forecasts suggest the possibility of some significant rainfall in South Florida toward the end of next week, with with seasonally warm temperatures holding on.

Central Florida will stay seasonally warm through the 10-day period as well, with rain chances picking up toward the end of the week. Ditto for Tampa, but with drier conditions at the end of the 10-day forecast.