Frost in forecast for parts of Central Florida

Patchy frost is possible Wednesday morning in interior areas of West-Central Florida, according to the National Weather Service. (Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

Temperatures plunged up and down the state Tuesday morning, the first day of meteorologial winter 2020-21.

Morning lows were chilly to downright cold across Florida, and forecasters said temps may dip even lower on Wednesday — wind chills in the 30s were forecast for interior South Florida — before a warm-up begins.

The National Weather Service said Miami bottomed out at 61, while West Palm Beach reported 55, Fort Lauderdale, 60, and Naples, 57.

It was 69 in Key West, the mid-60 in the Middle Keys and the low 60s in the Upper Keys and southern tip of the peninsula, including Homestead, according to Weather Underground.

Mid- to upper-50s were the rule in coastal South Florida with low 50s in the interior. Upper 40s stretched across the peninsula north of Lake Okeechobee, with low- to mid-40s north of a line from around Tampa over to Palm Bay.

A few upper 30s started creeping in north of Dade City and into the Nature Coast, and low- to mid-30s dominated from around Cedar Key on the Gulf Coast west to St. Augustine on the East Coast.

Quite a few locations north of Gainesville hit the freezing mark. It was 31 in Lake Butler, for example, and 32 in Lake City, although it was in the upper 30s in the Jacksonville area.

As expected, the coldest temperatures were in the central and western panhandle. There were a few 29 degree readings in the Tallahassee area and the town of Altha, Florida in the western panhandle reported a wintry 27 degrees.

The season’s introductory cold snap will be short-lived, however, as winds swing around to the east on Wednesday off the warm Atlantic. So, all-in-all, unseasonably cool temperatures across Central and South Florida may last for around 36-48 hours. Another cold front is on the docket for this weekend, but the National Weather Service says temps won’t be as cold as they were this morning and as they are expected to be on Wednesday morning.

Thursday morning lows should be around 10 degrees warmer than Wednesday’s, at least on the East Coast.

Still, the general trend will be temps around 5 degrees below normal through the weekend, and NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is maintaining its outlook for below normal temperatures in Florida through December 14.

Longer-range forecast models suggest above normal temps for the latter part of December and into January.

South FL forecast: much colder, chance of falling iguanas

(Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

The well-advertised cold front that’s poised to bring freezing temperatures to the panhandle and North Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday will drive temps into the 40s as far south as interior South Florida — 50s on the coasts.

National Weather Service forecasters in Miami are calling for the “coldest temperatures of the season” with the possibility of “an isolated falling iguana or two.”

Iguanas, which have taken over South Florida’s parks and backyards, become dormant when temperatures dip into the 40s. They may fall out of trees, but they revive when temps warm back up during the day, especially in the sun.

(Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

BIG WARM-UP FOR MID-DECEMBER? The cold snap that hit North Florida today and will spread into the southern peninsula on Tuesday looks like it may generally keep a lid on temperatures for the next couple of weeks. Another front moves in over the weekend to tamp down temps after a return to seasonal weather late in the week.

The GFS forecast model shows continued cool temps — with some warmer temperatures between fronts — for the next two weeks. But the model suggests a return to the 80s for South and Central Florida by the second weekend of the month.

The long-range three- to four-week forecast, released Friday by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, calls for above normal temperatures from December 12 right through Christmas Day. That’s not only for Florida, but for the entire country, coast-to-coast.

*

(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

A WRAP … OR IS IT? Today is the final day of the wild 2020 hurricane season, which checks out with a record-busting 30 named storms, 13 hurricanes and six majors. The average number of named storms is 12.

Nature saved the strongest storm of the year for the grand finale, Category 5 Hurricane Iota, which whipped up sustained winds of 160 mph before it crashed into Central America.

On the final day of the season, the National Hurricane Center was still watching an area of disturbed weather in the far eastern Atlantic, giving it a 40 percent chance of becoming a subtropical depression, or Subtropical Storm Kappa over the next couple of days.

Nothing else is on the NHC’s Tropical Weather Outlook map.

Tornadoes, heavy rain possible in North Florida, panhandle

(Image credit: NWS-Tallahassee)

SUNDAY UPDATE: The Central Florida panhandle was under a Level 2 “Slight” risk for severe storms on Sunday as a warm front works into the area behind the cold front that will deliver the coldest air of the season to the entire state.

Once the storms associated with the front are completely out of the way on Tuesday, lows should plunge everywhere with temps in the 40s as far south as interior South Florida.

However, NWS forecasters in Miami said the cold snap will be very short-lived around the lower half of the peninsula, since winds should swing around to the northeast, and then east, off the warm Atlantic, on Wednesday.

Nevertheless, North Florida is bracing for a potential freeze.

National Weather Service Tallahassee: “The coldest night since March 1, 2020 is in store Tuesday morning, with low temperatures forecast to range from the upper 20s in [southeast Alabama] to the low-mid 30s in the FL Big Bend. A freeze with temperatures of 24 to 32 degrees is increasingly likely outside of the SE FL Big Bend …”

“Based on the forecast low temperatures, a more widespread freeze compared to Tuesday morning is possible away from the gulf coast.”

It looks like another cold front is slated to impact the state next weekend, but it’s still unclear how much cold air will be behind it, and how much rain we might expect as it’s moving through.

*

TROPICS WATCH: The disturbance that was being followed by the National Hurricane Center south of Bermuda was yanked off the agency’s Tropical Weather Outlook map on Sunday.

That left just the system east of the Azures in the eastern Atlantic. The non-tropical low was moving south toward the Canary Islands, and forecasters said there was a 40 percent chance it could become a subtropical depression or storm over the next few days.

Strong storms possible on Monday, NOAA says

(Image credit: NOAA/ SPC)

SATURDAY UPDATE: Strong thunderstorms are in the National Weather Service forecast for North and Central Florida on Monday, but it’s still unclear how much weather South Florida might get out of the system, which will accompany the strongest cold front of the season.

NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center has Central and North Florida under a “Marginal” risk for severe weather, including gusty winds, heavy rain and frequent lightning strikes.

RECORD WATCH: Several temperature records were tied or broken on Thanksgiving Day, according to the National Weather Service. Fort Lauderdale tied a record warm low with 75 degrees, matching a mark set in 2007.

In the panhandle, Tallahassee’s high of 83 tied a record set 93 years ago in 1927. And Apalachicola broke a record high with 81, beating the old record of 80 set in 1985.

TROPICS WATCH: Two disturbances in the Atlantic — one southwest of Bermuda and one northeast of the Azores — had a 30 percent chance of subtropical development over the next five days. For the first low, that’s down from 40 percent on Friday.

Wintry temps to take hold in Florida next week

(Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

“The coldest weather of the season” is on its way to the Florida peninsula early next week, with lows plunging into the 40s as far south as interior areas of South Florida, the National Weather Service in Miami said Friday.

Beyond that, temperatures may recover slowly by mid-week, but the GFS forecast model has some bad news if you’re looking for more shorts-and-T-shirt weather as we head into the second week of the month. The model suggests even coastal areas could bottom out in the 40s on Wednesday, December 9, with a slight warmup due the following weekend as we near mid-month.

The 14-day temperature outlook from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center has below normal weather in the forecast through at least December 10, not only for all of Florida but for a large swath of states, from Texas all the way over to the Mid-Atlantic States. The Upper Midwest will be enjoying above normal temperatures, forecasters said.

Interestingly, this is the exact opposite of what a La Niña winter should look like. With a strong La Niña in the Pacific, Florida usually has above normal winter temps while the northern tier of states are cool and wet.

So what happened to NOAA’s long-term forecast for an unusually warm December for Florida?

The National Centers for Environmental Prediction’s ultra-long-range forecast model, the CFS, suggests that temperatures may moderate to near-normal by the middle of the month, followed by above-normal temps moving in for Christmas week and into the new year.

In other words, keep the shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops handy as we head into the heart of December.

Meanwhile, here are the post-cold-front forecast lows around the state for Wednesday morning: Miami, 56; Sebring, 43; Orlando, 41; Tampa, 44; Gainesville, 34; Lake City, 32; Jacksonville, 35; and Tallahassee, 33.

National Weather Service, Tallahassee: “Models are in good agreement of showing near or below freezing temperatures both Tuesday and Wednesday mornings with the better chances of below freezing temperatures through southeast Alabama and adjacent areas of southwest Georgia and western Florida panhandle.”

*

TROPICS WATCH: The hurricane season ends Monday, but the National Hurricane Center was monitoring not one, but two systems in the Atlantic that have the potential for subtropical development.

The first system, in the Central Atlantic well east of the Bahamas, was given a 40 percent chance of development over the next 2-5 days as it heads northeast. The second, west of Portugal in the eastern Atlantic, had a 20 percent chance as it drifts to the south.

Neither are a threat to the U.S., but they could pad the numbers of this year’s record-breaking season to as high as 32. The next two names on the list are Kappa and Lambda.

Nature serves up a Turkey Day to remember

(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

Happy ThanksZooming!

Folks with Fauci fatigue may have taken the SUV to grandma’s house, or hopped on a plane to enjoy a round of roast turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and family infighting up close and personal. Others will be celebrating via the less traditional laptop, and perhaps watching a football game or two with piped-in artificial crowd noise.

In fact, many traditions will be on display for all to enjoy, including the fabulous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which takes place as usual in New York — although with an apocalyptic flavor, since no people will be on hand to watch it in person. Even Santa Clause will arrive, but he’ll be doing his ho-ho-hoing in a red and white hazmat suit.

OK, maybe not a full hazmat, but CNN says: “Participants will be required to wear masks and other personal protective equipment.”

Either way, a holiday to remember, right?

We’re looking at some fab weather for the festivities, too. Miami will be sunny and 82, with winds finally calming to a gentle 9-11 mph, a nice change for the entire Florida East Coast which has been battered by beach erosion and rip currents over the past week.

Orlando will also make it to 82 under sunny skies. Actually, the entire state will enjoy near-perfect holiday conditions. Ditto for much of the nation.

Atlanta: A few morning rain showers but then sunny and a high of 71.

Washington: Mostly cloudy with a high near 70.

New York is expecting rain, but at least participants won’t be cold with a foreast high in the city of 62.

Chicago will be mostly cloudy with a high of 47. That may sound chilly, but in Chicago that’s practically backyard barbecue weather.

St. Louis: Sunny by mid-day with a high of 54.

Houston: Partly sunny with a high of 76.

Denver: A high around 44 but with increasing clouds late in the day — and a chance of snow to really get folks in the holiday mood!

Phoenix: Sunny with a high of 71.

Los Angeles: Sunny with a high of 69.

Seattle: Mostly cloudy with a high of 49.

Enjoy!

Freezing temps possible in panhandle next week

IT’S (ALMOST) A WRAP: A record-breaking 30 named storms formed this year, topping the previous record of 28 set in 2005. The season had the second-highest number of hurricanes on record. (Image credit: NOAA)

The 2020 hurricane season, which officially ends Monday, was the fifth consecutive above-normal season, and the 18th above normal season out of the past 26, NOAA said in its season-ending report released late Tuesday.

There were 30 named storms — one or two more could still add to the final total — during the 2020 season, with 13 hurricanes and six major hurricanes.

On Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center was still tracking the disturbance in the Central Atlantic, and gave it a 30 percent chance of becoming a subtropical system over the next five days as it drifts toward the south. It was no expected to impact the U.S.

*

Meteorological winter starts Tuesday, and right on schedule nature has scheduled a cold front that is expected to pack some wintry weather — at least winter Florida-style.

Monday night forecast lows: Miami, 58; Orlando, 51; Tampa, 51; Jacksonville, 41; Tallahassee, 37.

Tuesday’s forecast highs: Miami, 70; Orlando, 65; Tampa, 63; Jacksonville, 57; Tallahassee, 54.

Considering that heat index readings were still in the 90s last week in parts of South Florida, this blast of unseaonably cold air is going to have people digging into their closets for sweaters and jackets.

The two main foreast models used to predict this kind of weather — NOAA’s GFS and the European (ECMWF) — are still a bit at odds when it comes to the timing of the cold front passage, and the temperatures on the other side of the front, according to forecasters.

National Weather Service, Miami: “… we can confidently say we will see a frontal passage early next week; however, there are a couple questions in play still…(1) how cold will the temps be behind the front, and (2) will there be strong to severe storms ahead of the boundary.”

NWS Melbourne: “A strong cold front is forecast to push across the area on Monday preceded by a band of showers/storms. Wind fields suggest a threat for strong to isolated severe storms as the convection pushes rapidly across the area … much cooler air will overspread the area with low temps Tue in the 50s, except 40s north of Orlando.”

NWS Tampa: “Showers and storms will be possible ahead of this front on Sunday and Sunday night, then a more organized squall line will likely push through the area on Monday, with favorable shear to allow for a few stronger storms. A much cooler and drier airmass will filter into the area behind the front, with lows Tuesday morning ranging from the upper 30s over the Nature Coast, to mid 50s over southwest Florida.”

NWS Jacksonville: “Strong cold air advection will occur behind the cold front as the surface low continues to deepen over the
Great Lakes region. This will result in much cooler temperatures and windy conditions Monday and Tuesday with readings much below normal.”

NWS Tallahassee: “North of I-10 in outlying areas and normally colder areas could have lows near or at freezing [Tuesday and Wednesday] mornings.”

More East Coast cities break the 70-degree mark

IDEAL T-DAY TEMPS: Holiday weather is going to be Chamber-of-Commerce nice, not only in the Keys but across the entire state, the National Weather Service says. Gobble up that turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes … and sunshine! (Image credit: NWS-Key West)

West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale dropped below 70 degrees Monday for the first time since May 11, with a low of 69. Tuesday morning’s apparent low was 68 in West Palm; 69 in Fort Lauderdale.

This morning’s low in Naples was 64 and it was 68 in Miami, which broke the 70 degree mark last Wednesday, for the first time since May 3.

Other lows on Monday: Orlando 60; Tampa, 65; Jacksonville, 55; Gainesville, 51; and Tallahassee, 43.

A weak cold front slid down the peninsula on Monday and has stalled near the Florida Straits, the National Weather Service said. It’s expected to wash out by Wednesday.

STORMY END TO NOVEMBER? Many parts of the state were battered by Tropical Storm Eta this month, with historic rainfall especially in coastal areas. After a holiday week of picture-perfect weather, the month could go out on a another stormy note.

A cold front expected to cross the peninsula next Monday will lower temperatures significantly, and NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center continues to call for below normal temperatures across the entire state for the first week of December.

What is still uncertain, according to the National Weather Service, is whether the front could deliver some severe weather as it rolls down the peninsula. The GFS forecast model is promoting “strong storms and a clean sweep” as the front moves through South Florida, while the European has the front arriving a day later and not packing as much punch.

“This portion of the forecast period will be important to monitor for potential weather impacts,” NWS forecasters in Miami said Tuesday morning.

*

TROPICS WATCH: The disturbance in the Atlantic north of the Bahamas still had a 30 percent chance of development by the weekend, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was forecast to “meander” in the Central Atlantic and possibly acquire subtropical status.

Anniversary: Historic T-Day storm battered Florida coast

(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

This is the 36th anniversary of the Thanksgiving storm that pounded Florida’s East Coast, dumping 7.41 inches of rain in West Palm Beach and causing $38 million in damage. The storm, centered in the Bahamas, led to coastal flooding and major beach erosion from November 22-24, 1984.

An intense extra-tropical cyclone, it was responsible for the grounding of the Venezuelan freighter, Mercedes I for several months in Palm Beach. Getting the ship off the beach in the exclusive resort town became a media sensation.

It was eventually removed and sunk off Fort Lauderdale to create an artifician reef.

The system may have become a subtropical storm as it swiped Bermuda, and in fact it went into the record books for the busy 1984 hurricane season as Tropical Depression 19.

The season ended with 20 tropical depressions, 13 tropical storms, five hurricanes and one major, the busiest season since 1971. The grand finale was Hurricane Lili, which formed near Bermuda and did a loop in the Atlantic before becoming an 80 mph hurricane. It tracked south and then east, threatening the Greater Antilles.

It finally dissipated off the coast of Hispaniola on Christmas Eve. It was one of only four hurricanes in history to form in December.

NOT THIS YEAR: The Thanksgiving week forecast looks stellar for Florida, with sunshine and highs in the 70s and 80s. Much cooler weather is on the way for the first week in December.

*

TROPICS WATCH: National Hurricane Center forecasters upped chances for subtropical development of the disturbance east of the Bahamas from 10 to 20 percent over the next five days. It was projected to move toward the northeast, away from the U.S.

Forecasters see unusually cool start to December

(Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

It’s not often you see a big fat “B” parked near the Florida peninsula when NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center issues its long-range outlooks. But such is the case for the agency’s latest forecast released Saturday. It predicts below normal temperatures from November 29 through December 5.

The GFS model is showing some pretty brisk temps during that period, with highs barely making 70 on some days in South and Central Florida.

In fact, for the start of the second week of December, the model is showing lows in the 40s, even down into parts of South Florida.

It should be noted that the December forecast released by NOAA last week indicated above normal temperatures in Florida overall, so we perhaps we’ll see a rebound as we head into the middle and end of the month.

*

TROPICS WATCH: The disturbance near the southeastern Bahamas looked impressive on satellite, but forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said it had just a 10 percent chance of subtropical development over the next couple of days. Luckily, it’s headed northeast, away from the U.S. (Image credit: NOAA)

*

DARK DAYS AHEAD: Thursday is the date of the earliest sunset along Florida’s East Coast. In Palm Beach — the farthest east location on the Florida peninsula (the exact location is at the southern tip of Singer Island) — sunset has been at 5:27 p.m. since Friday. On Thursday it clicks back to 5:26 p.m., and remains there until Friday, December 4 when it advances back to 5:27.

By the time Christmas rolls around, sunset is edging back up at 5:34 p.m., and by January 29 it’s all the way back to 6 p.m.

The winter solstice, of course, occurs on Monday, December 21, and that is overall the shortest day of the year. That’s because sunrise continues to advance until Thursday, January 7 when it occurs at 7:10 a.m. (using the Palm Beach example). After that, sunrise will begin to occur earlier in tandem with later sunsets.