October’s close encounter with major Hurricane Matthew was the top weather story of 2016, according to the National Weather Service in Miami. See below. (Credit: NWS-Miami)
A winter chill ushered out 2016 in Florida with temperatures sinking into the 30s in interior and Central Florida and dipping into the 40s as far south as West Palm Beach.
The anticipated wind shift to the east did not occur as early as projected, leading nighttime tempeatures to take a tumble around the state.
Saturday’s apparent low was 49 in West Palm Beach. It was 54 in Miami and Fort Lauderdale and 47 in Naples.
The coolest South Florida temperatures were low 40s west of Lake Okeechobee and in inland Collier County. A 5:30 a.m. temperature of 32.5 degrees was recorded at a South Florida Water Management District observation site at the Picayune Strand State Forest east of Naples off Alligator Alley.
In North Florida, a temperature of 28 degrees was recorded in Gainesville at 7:40 a.m.
A warm-up was imminent, forecasters said, as northwest winds swing around to the east and southeast.
South Florida highs near 80 are expected through Friday.
The National Weather Service in Miami released its 2016 wrap-up Friday, citing as its top weather story of the year the near-miss of Hurricane Matthew in October.
“Fortunately for South Florida, hurricane force winds and other severe impacts remained just offshore,” analysts said. “Sustained tropical storm force winds over land were confined to eastern Palm Beach County and the immediate coast of Broward County.”
Officially, highest winds were 63 mph at the Juno Beach Pier; 51 mph at Palm Beach International Airport.
In second place was the Feb. 16 tornado outbreak. A storm system moving east from the Gulf of Mexico merged with a cold front to trigger six tornadoes in Miami Gardens, Fort Lauderdale Beach, Pompano Beach and up into Palm Beach County.
Excessive and record heat also dominated the weather news. It was the third-warmest year on record in Miami, the fourth warmest in Fort Lauderdale and the fifth warmest in West Palm Beach and Naples.
“No official NWS station recorded temperatures at or below freezing the entire year,” forecasters said.
“July was the hottest on record at West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Summer 2016 tied for the hottest on record at West Palm Beach. December will end up among the top three warmest on record.”