Warm Florida waters, Atlantic high pressure mean more toasty New Year temps

Global forecast models show lots of high pressure maintaining control over the Florida peninsula through the first half of January.

So it should be no surprise this week’s cold front that is expected to give South Florida “a taste of winter” — as National Weather Service forecasters said Thursday in their weather analysis — will be ultra-short-lived.

Friday is forecast to be brisk and cool with winds gusting out of the north at 29 mph and highs in the upper 60s around South Florida. Saturday morning’s forecast lows range from 61 in West Palm Beach to 63 in Miami, although lows could dip below 50 on the West Coast.

Remember that normal lows for this time of the year are in the upper 50s on the southeast coast, so this cold front may not even drive low temperatures down into the normal range.

And some time on Saturday, winds will swing around to the southeast and usher in warmer air off the Atlantic, where water temperatures are incredibly warm for this time of the year — upper 70s in some locations.

Water temperatures in the Atlantic are above normal from the Gulf of Mexico east to the Florida peninsula. (Credit: NOAA/ NESDIS)

Lows on Saturday night/ Sunday morning won’t get much below 70.

To see why, check out the above sea surface temperature anomaly map for the day after Christmas, which shows unusually warm water surrounding most of the Florida peninsula. (Water temperatures off Palm Beach were measured at a balmy 79 degrees over the Christmas weekend and were posted at 78 on Thursday.)

A wider view, heading out into the Central Tropical Atlantic, shows more above normal water temperatures.

In fact, NOAA’s GFS forecast model shows an interesting low pressure center spinning up east of the Bahamas toward the end of the second week of January. Yes, the GFS does tend to go a bit overboard in its long-range forecasting when it comes to tropical and subtropical systems.

But remember that last year Subtropical Storm Alex spun up in the Central Atlantic on Jan. 12. It then went on to become the first hurricane of 2016 on Jan. 14.

As we move into the new year, it will be interesting to see if the GFS continues this forecast and whether other global models begin falling into line.

For the U.S. in general, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for a major blast of cold air for the country, including the Midwest and the Northeast, the second week of the month. But the long-range forecast issued Wednesday stops the Arctic onslaught at the Florida state line, and keeps the peninsula toasty, especially south of Orlando.

AccuWeather is predicting seven of the first 14 days in January will be at or near 80 degrees in West Palm Beach with a run of cooler temperatures the third week of the month and then normal temperatures to round out the last week of January.

Interesting to note that normal highs and lows in South Florida begin edging up the last week of January and begin to rise significantly as we get into the middle of February.


Author: jnelander

Freelance writer and editor

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