Warm and dry winter forecast puts Florida in spotlight

UPDATE: The Saturday morning low at Palm Beach International Airport was 65 degrees, the coolest temperature since May 9. It was in the mid-50s around Lake Okeechobee and in interior areas of North Central Florida. The low temperature broke below 60 as far south as Immokalee in inland Collier County.

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ORIGINAL POST: Here’s a long-range forecast that Florida tourism officials love — NOAA is calling for a warm and dry La Niña winter.

Along with suggestions that this could be a harsh and snowy winter for the Northeast and Midwest, expectations that the teeth-chattering class will be piling into cars and planes and heading for the sunshine state seem reasonable.

As for Florida residents, they will not only benefit from the added influx of tourist dollars but they’ll also enjoy a respite from last winter’s wild El Niño weather, which spread severe thunderstorms and tornadoes up and down the peninsula.

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The three-month temperature and precipitation forecast keeps most of the South warm and dry. (Credit: NOAA/ CPC)

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NOAA released its latest three-month forecast on Thursday, projecting more above-normal temperatures through January and below-average precipitation.

The trigger for the forecast is the developing La Niña in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Cooler than average water temperatures in the tropics tend that have that effect — the opposite of El Niño, which features warm ocean temps.

La Niña is favored to develop during the Northern Hemisphere fall 2016 and “slightly favored to persist” through the winter, NOAA forecasters said.

The chances have been placed at 70 percent and 55 percent, respectively.

The last weak La Niña winter occurred during the 2011-2012 season.

That winter, December was 3.9 degrees above normal in the West Palm Beach area and precipitation was 2.48 inches short of average. Highs were generally in the upper 70s and lows were in the mid-60s, rather pleasant weather. The warmest day was 82 and the coolest was 51. The previous month was also warm and dry, with a 3.42-inches precipitation deficit.

January’s precipitation shortfall was 2.75 inches, but temperatures came in right at normal. February was a little wetter than normal and much warmer than normal.

It was more of a mixed bag on the Treasure Coast with two out of three winter months delivering unusually warm temperatures and mostly dry conditions.

The West Coast was pretty much warm and dry across the board during the winter of 2011-2012.

Speaking of nice weather, the forecast for a genuine Florida-style fall weekend is on track with the arrival of a cold front late Friday. Some parts of interior South Florida could drop into the low 50s on Saturday night.

The West Palm Beach forecast is for a low Saturday night of 69, which would be the first time the temperature has poked below 70 since May 26. Sunday’s forecast high is 77.

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99l

The low pressure system north of the Bahamas hasn’t been able to get its act together. (Credit: NOAA)

TROPICS TOPICS: Chances of Invest 99L becoming a tropical depression, or Tropical Storm Otto, are diminishing, the National Hurricane Center said. The system, moving northward, has a 40 percent chance of developing.

The hurricane season likely still has one or two storms up its sleeve, though, since on average one named system develops in the Atlantic in November. The GFS and the European (ECMWF) aren’t currently advertising much of anything over the next 10 days, however.

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Author: jnelander

Freelance writer and editor

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