Colorado State calls for busy hurricane season, higher chances of Florida landfall

Panhandle tornado

FRIDAY UPDATE: The National Weather Service in Tallahassee confirmed that three tornadoes tore through Madison County in North Florida on Tuesday, uprooting trees, snapping off a utility poll and causing roof and window damage to a business. The longest duration tornado was on the ground for almost 12 miles and for a duration of 10 minutes. Earlier, an EF-0 tornado touched down in Walton County, east of Pensacola. In all, four tornadoes were reported in Florida.

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The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season turned out to be a doozy after a slow start. There were 18 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes, including Dorian, which devastated the Bahamas and swiped Florida’s East Coast with its outer bands. (Image credit: NOAA via Wikimedia Commons)

ORIGINAL POST: As if we don’t have enough to worry about as we head into a very uncertain spring and summer: The first 2020 hurricane season forecast was issued today, calling for another busy year.

Colorado State University is calling for 16 named storms, eight hurricanes and four majors, Category 3 or stronger. Probabilities for a U.S. landfall are also above average, according to the team of CSU researchers — Philip Klotzbach, Michael Bell, Jhordanne Jones.

“Current warm neutral ENSO conditions appear likely to transition to cool neutral ENSO or potentially even weak La Niña conditions by this summer/fall,” they said in the analysis.

“Sea surface temperatures averaged across the tropical Atlantic are somewhat above normal. Our Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation index is below its long-term average; however, most of the tropical Atlantic is warmer than normal. We anticipate an above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean.”

Floridians like to practice social distancing with hurricanes, keeping them at least 600 miles away, but we’ve had several close calls over the past several years with Dorian in 2019 and Matthew in 2016, along with a direct hit from Hurricane Irma in 2017.

We could see more nail-biters this year, the report suggests.

The CSU forecast kicks off the pre-season analyses, with more forecasts to come this month from the United Kingdom’s Tropical Storm Risk, AccuWeather and The Weather Channel. NOAA’s forecast is released at the end of the May, right before hurricane season starts on June 1.

The next CSU updated hurricane season forecast will be issued on Thursday, June 4.

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Florida drought

DRY EVERYWHERE:  Most of Florida is now under Moderate Drought. (Image credit: U.S. Drought Monitor)

DROUGHT TAKES HOLD: Nearly the entire State of Florida is now dealing with Moderate Drought, with a few pockets of Abnormally Dry conditions, a new analysis by the U.S. Drought Monitor revealed this morning.

Moderate Drought stretches from around the Nature Coast on the Gulf of Mexico northeast to around St. Augustine on the Atlantic side. That includes all of South Florida with the exception of southeastern Palm Beach, eastern Broward and northeastern Miami-Dade, areas that have been designated Abnormally Dry.

Moderate Drought and a pocket of Severe Drought affect the central panhandle south of Tallahassee, and Escambia County in the far western panhandle is also under Moderate Drought.

“In Florida, a number of observing stations around the state recorded their driest March on record including Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (0.00”), St. Petersburg Albert Whitted Airport (0.00”), and Vero Beach International Airport (0.02”),” said David Simeral of the Western Regional Climate Center.

“According to the March 30 USDA Crop Progress and Condition Report, pasture conditions in Florida were steadily deteriorating around the state because of the abnormally warm temperatures and decreasing soil moisture levels.”

More dry weather is in the forecast for the next 10 days or so; below normal precipitation is called for over most of the Florida peninsula through at least April 11.

Dry weather Keys

It was the third driest March in Marathon, the National Weather Service reported today. The threat of wildfires around the state has increased due to unusually dry air following Wednesday’s cold front, forecasters said. (Image credit: NWS-Key West)

Hottest March ever in Orlando knocks out 113-year-old record

ECFL March report

MARCH (WEATHER) MADNESS: Four cities in East-Central Florida had a record warm March, while overall the state racked up big precipitation deficits. (Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

Orlando had its hottest March on record, finishing the month with an average temperature — considering all of the daily highs and lows — of 73.9 degrees. That beat the previous March record of 73.7 set 113 years ago in 1907.

The city had nine days with temperatures of 90 or above, capped off with a high of 93 last Saturday, March 28. Seven of the last eight days of the month were 90 or better.

Leesburg, Sanford and Daytona Beach also had their warmest March, the National Weather Service in Melbourne said on Facebook today. Melbourne had its sixth warmest March, and its second driest, with just a tenth of an inch falling all month. The driest March in Melbourne was in 1974.

Naples also had its warmest March with an average temperature of 75.6 degrees, the National Weather Service in Miami announced this morning. That beat the previous record of 75.5 set in 2003.

West Palm Beach and Miami had their second-warmest March, and Fort Lauderdale had its third-warmest March.

But the lack of rain was actually a bigger story than the unusual warmth last month. Several cities around the peninsula had no rain at all, or just a trace — not enough to measure.

Lakeland, for example, had no precipitation — not even enough to smudge your car’s windshield — for a rainfall deficit of 3.89 inches

Tampa reported just a trace of precip, leaving the city 3.03 inches short for March rainfall. Temperatures in Tampa, however, were 7 degrees above average.

Naples also recorded a trace of rain, for a March precipitation deficit of 2.38 inches.

Unusually dry weather took hold in Southeast Florida as well, and in the panhandle, Tallahassee turned in a precipitation shortfall of 3.72 inches, even though the city picked up 2.22 inches of rain in March. More surprising, Tallahassee ended the month 8.9 degrees above average, the largest temperature anomaly at a major reporting site in the state.

Also of note: Vero Beach set a daily record Tuesday with a 93 degree high, which also happened to tie the warmest temperature ever recorded in Vero Beach for the month of March. The record was previously set on March 20 2003.

And Fort Pierce’s high Tuesday of 93 broke a record for the date and tied the record for the warmest temperature ever recorded in March — set 112 years ago on March 24, 1908.

ELSEWHERE, MARCH WENT OUT WITH SOME SIZZLE: Miami set a record high with 92, beating the old record of 91 set in 2011. Jacksonville set a new record high with 89, beating the old mark of 88 set in 2016. Daytona Beach hit 90 on Tuesday, which tied a record high set back in 1954.

Sanford set a record high with 93, and a record warm low with 68.

Record warm minimum temps were set or tied at Orlando (70); Key West (79); Marathon (78); West Palm Beach (75); and Naples (73).

RAINFALL REPORT: Some of the rain associated with this week’s cold front fell before midnight, which added to March’s meager totals, but precipitation totals in South and Central Florida occurred after midnight so will go into the April column.

Rainfall totals were mostly in the quarter to third-of-an-inch range around the peninsula, but a CoCoRaHS observer in northwestern Collier County reported a 24-hour total of 3.07 inches. In North-Central Florida, an observer in Alachua County near Gainesville reported 1.07 inches.

Officially, the highest 24-hour rainfall total through 7 p.m. Tuesday was 0.78 of an inch in Tallahassee.

THE NEW APRIL FORECAST, released Tuesday by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, calls for above normal precipitation in the Florida panhandle, but equal chances for above, below, or normal rainfall around the Florida peninsula.

Above average temperatures continue to be the rule.

Thunderstorms possible around peninsula, with severe threat in panhandle

Tallahassee storms

STORM THREATS: Rain associated with the cold front entering North Florida will likely be heavier in north and the panhandle. (Image credits: NWS-Tallahassee, above; NOAA/ SPC, below).

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March came in like a lamb but will go out like a lion in parts of the state as a cold front brings a chance of storms followed by much cooler temperatures.

We’ve had summer-like weather for the past week, but it’s still early spring, and it looks like temps will head back to more normal territory for late week and over the weekend. That means the first week of April should be pretty nice, even if you do have to enjoy it from your backyard instead of the beach or your favorite park.

March will likely find a spot in the record books thanks to unusually warm temperatures from north to south. We were mostly under the influence of high pressure, keeping cold strongest fronts to the north. Only a handful of days featured below normal temperatures.

Temps in South Florida and the Keys averaged around 4-6 degrees above normal for the month; 5-7 degrees in East-Central Florida as well as the Tampa area; and an incredible 9 degrees above average in the Jacksonville and Tallahassee areas.

But with the cold front scheduled to roll down the peninsula late Tuesday and Wednesday, here are the forecast lows for Wednesday night/ Thursday morning: Miami, 70; Tallahassee, 49; Jacksonville, 52; Gainesville, 46; Tampa, 57; and Key West, 73.

A bit brisk in the morning in Central and North Florida, but warming up nicely during the day to keep the tourists happy — those we have left.

The cooler weather that kicks off April will eventually give way to more above-normal temperatures in Florida, according to the long-range CFS forecast model. The model is calling for chilly weather elsewhere in the eastern U.S.

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RECORD WATCH: Tallahassee broke a 74-year-old record high with 89 degrees on Monday, beating the old record of 88 set in 1946. Fort Myers busted a 75-year-old record high with 91, beating the previous record of 90 set in 1945.

Marathon reached a high of 88, which tied a record high last set in 1994.

Sanford broke a record high with 93, beating the old record of 91 set in 2000; and Leesburg hit 92, beating the old record of 91 set in 1991. Jacksonville tied a high of 89, while Marathon tied a record high with 88.

Record warm lows were set or tied in Sanford (68) and Key West (77).

Scientist argues warming climate caused coronavirus outbreak

Florida drought

How far in the hole will Florida be for March rainfall when the month ends tomorrow? Looks like there will be big deficits everywhere, and it’s likely that drought conditions will expand when the new report by the U.S. Drought Monitor comes out Thursday. This map, posted by the National Weather Service in Melbourne, shows that the driest conditions have been in South Florida and South-Central Florida. (Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

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MORE CLIMATE CHANGE CONSEQUENCES: Did climate change help trigger the coronavirus outbreak? A controversial professor in the United Kingdom says yes, that a warming climate caused bats to alter their movements and put them in closer contact with humans.

Jem Bendell, a social science professor at the University of Cumbria, believes if we don’t change course on climate change, there will be other pandemics and he told Bloomberg News that the idea of returning to normal after the coronavirus outbreak is a

Bailing out polluting industries like the airlines is a mistake, he said. “Keeping the most polluting industries afloat will increase the likelihood of future pandemics.”

Bendell believes that the first wave of climate change consequences have been more directly weather related — the wildfires in Australia, and super hurricanes in the Pacific and Atlantic. The next wave will be pandemics.

His theory, which he calls “deep adaptation,” was outlined in a 2018 paper called “A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy.”

To call Bendell a doom-and-gloomer might be an understatement. He says climate change will lead to war, famine, and disease — even the collapse of civilization — within the next decade.

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RECORD WATCH: Jacksonville set another high temperature record Sunday with 91, beating the previous record for the date of 89 set in 1991.

Naples tied a record high with 90, matching the mark set in 1975; and Sanford busted a record high with 92. That beat the old record of 91 set in 1994. Leesburg set a record high with 91, beating the previous record of 90 set in 1991.

West Palm Beach and Key West tied record warm lows on Sunday with 75 and 78, respectively.

Jacksonville high of 94 warmest ever recorded in month of March

ECFL records

Record highs on Saturday were spread throughout the peninsula. (Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

The AC got a workout Saturday from Jacksonville all the way down the Naples.

It was the hottest day ever recorded in the month of March in Jacksonville. The temperature topped out at 94, which shattered the old record high for the date — 89 degrees, set in 2009 — and beat the previous all-time record high for the month, 91, set just last Wednesday.

Gainesville set a record high with 93, beating the old record of 90 set 71 years ago in 1949.

Leesburg also set a record high for the month with 92. Previously, the warmest March temperature ever recorded in Leesburg was 91, set on March 30, 1991. The Leesburg low of 72 also broke a record for warmest minimum temperature for March 28, and it tied the record for warmest low ever recorded in March.

Orlando busted a record high Saturday with 93, beating the old record of 92 set in 1994.

The high was 88 in Tampa, hot enough to tie the record high for the date set in 1989.

And Naples tied a record high with 91, matching the mark last set in 1975.

Cooler weather on the way next week after record-busting weekend temps

NFL temps

RECORD-BREAKING HEAT: “Enjoy your indoor social distancing in the A/C!” the National Weather Service in Jacksonville said on its Facebook page Saturday. (Image credit: NWS-Jacksonville)

Summer-like heat is the story this weekend in Florida, from Jacksonville and Tallahassee all the way down to the southern tip of the peninsula.

Records will likely be broken in North Florida and Central Florida, according to the National Weather Service. There will be some mid-week relief as a cold front finally rolls through, bringing cooler temps that will probably be slightly below normal.

After highs approaching the mid-90s in interior areas of Central Florida, Thursday morning’s forecast low in Orlando is 59. Thursday morning’s forecast low in Gainesville is 51.

Of course, this is the end of March, so daytime highs will be very pleasant, near 80 degrees in Central Florida and South Florida.

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(Image credit: NOAA/ SPC)

STORMY SATURDAY: More than 70 million Americans were under a severe weather threat Saturday as a strong storm system spins across the Upper Midwest, CNN reported, gusty winds and large hail were targeting a 45-million-square-mile area that included all of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

“Confidence is increasing for a potentially potent severe weather setup as ingredients needed for this are appearing to favorably align on Saturday,” the NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center. Northern Illinois is under a Level 4 or “Moderate Risk” of severe weather.

The bad weather will spread into the Northeast on Sunday, but it won’t be as severe, the SPC said, with states like West Virginia, and parts of Pennsylvania and New York under a Level 1 or “Marginal Risk.”

In Florida, the panhandle is under a Level 2 or “Slight Risk” of severe weather on Tuesday.

Rain chances jump into the 30-40 percent range Central and South Florida with the passage of the front, but NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center isn’t impressed; Graphical forecasts suggest only minimal rainfall around the peninsula.

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RECORD WATCH: Tampa tied a 91-year-old high temperature record Friday with 89, a record set on March 27, 1929. Fort Myers set another record high for the second day in a row with 94. That beat the old record of 91 set in 1989.

Jacksonville set a record high with 90, beating the old mark of 89 set in 1991.

Leesburg broke a record high with 90, beating the old record of 89 set in 2011. The city also tied a record warm low with 71 degrees.

Fort Myers posts blistering record high of 93; a virtual visit to the Glades

ECFL forecast highs

More record or near-record temps are in Friday’s forecast, and the heat is expected to extend into the weekend, according to the National Weather Service. (Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

The temperature topped out at a blistering 93 degrees Thursday in Fort Myers, busting a 71-year-old record. The previous record high, 92, was set back in 1949.

Miami record temp
(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

Miami tied a record high with 89, and in Central Florida, Leesburg tied a record high with 87.

Melbourne, broke a record warm minimum temperature with 69, beating the old mark of 68 set in 2016. Sanford also broke a record warm minimum with 71, beating the old record of 68 set in 2005.

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Everglades photo by Marc Ryckaert via Wikimedia Commons

Tired of watching Netflix? Upset that you can’t get out of the house and enjoy some of Florida’s natural attractions?

Everglades National Park is closed, but the National Weather Service in Miami recommends checking out this nine-part “Mountains and Valleys” video series on the Everglades.

An intriguing title, since the Everglades has neither mountains nor valleys.

It’s “a way to explore the Everglades while social distancing,” forecasters said on the agency’s Facebook page Friday.

“This … series will take you on an immersive adventure through the seven main habitats of the Everglades. Along the way, you’ll also learn about the the park’s wildlife and even a little bit of history. ‘Mountains and Valleys’ is also a great educational resource that teachers and parents who are homeschooling can share with kids.”