(Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)
Consider it an Alice-In-Wonderland forecast: Today is the last full day of winter and it will feel like spring. The first full day of spring is Wednesday and it will feel like winter.
March continues to stutter-step its way across the calendar, with winter-style cold fronts bringing a January chill, alternating with temperature rebounds that remind everyone that the warm weather season is just around the corner — no matter what.
Melbourne tied a record low Friday with 39, matching the mark set just a year ago. It was 33 in Vero Beach, breaking the old record of 35 set in 1988. Fort Pierce’s low of 34 on Friday tied a record set in 1988.
But by Sunday, Melbourne’s high temperature had jumped to 88 degrees.
NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center puts North Florida at an Enhanced risk for severe storms on Tuesday, with a Slight risk in Central Florida and a Marginal risk for areas north of Lake Okeechobee. The SPC is calling for a risk of thunderstorms in South Florida.
Post-cold front, the coolest mornings in South Florida will be Thursday and Friday, according to the National Weather Service, with temperatures bottoming out in the 40s and 50s before bouncing back to closer to normal for the weekend.
Forecast lows are in the upper 40s Friday in Tampa and Orlando; 40 in Gainesville and 42 in Jacksonville.
Hurricane Irma approaches the northern coast of Cuba on September 8. (Credit: NOAA-NASA GOES-16 satellite via Wikimedia Commons)
IRMA UNVEILED: The Hurricane Irma Tropical Cyclone Report, released recently by the National Hurricane Center, shows just how lucky Florida was, even though the Lower Keys were hit hard and Marco Island suffered a big wallop as well.
The storm clipped Cuba’s northern coast on September 9 and plowed through barrier islands at Category 5 strength, the first time Cuba has been slammed with a Category 5 hurricane since 1932.
Just a day or two earlier, the NHC was predicting that Irma would miss the Cuban coast and make its northward turn near Florida’s East Coast, perhaps ramming up through Key Largo and then up the peninsula, just west of the coast. Had that happened, it would have been “a transformative event” for South Florida, as Weather Underground’s Jeff Masters told me in an interview last fall.
Instead, the NHC report notes: “Irma tracked along the Cuban Keys throughout that day, and its interaction with land caused it to weaken significantly, first to a Category 4 storm a few hours after landfall in the Cuban Keys and then down to a Category 2.”
When it made its turn to the northwest, toward the Florida Keys, it did restrengthen and clobbered Cudjoe Key with 132 mph sustained winds as a Category 4 hurricane.
The NHC picks it up: “The convective pattern of the hurricane then became more ragged, likely due to increasing southwesterly vertical wind shear, and in response, Irma weakened to a Category 3 hurricane [on September 10]. Irma made its final landfall near Marco Island … with estimated maximum winds of 100 kt and minimum pressure of 936 mb. Once inland over southwestern Florida, Irma weakened quickly, due to the influences of land and strong wind shear ….”
The key event for Florida was that on September 8, after hammering Little Inagua Island in the Bahamas Irma “turned slightly to the left, due to a building subtropical ridge ….”
That’s what drove it into Cuba and spared the Florida peninsula from the worst of it.