Florida braces for late-weekend storms; new study shows flight radiation risks

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A stormy Sunday and Monday will interrupt Florida’s streak of sunny and balmy weather. (Credit: NWS-Miami)

With last winter’s El Niño, Florida residents were on the edge of their seats on more than one occasion as strong storms ripped across the Gulf of Mexico and across the Florida peninsula. This season’s La Niña has been warm and dry, but a vigorous late-weekend cold front is scheduled to interrupt the run of near-perfect beach weather.

As was the case last winter, the risk of severe weather is higher in North and Central Florida, but the Storm Prediction Center’s forecast for “Enhanced chances” of thunderstorms, hail and tornadoes stretches down from a line running between Naples and West Palm Beach for late Sunday and early Monday.

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North Florida and most of the panhandle are in a high risk area. (Credit: NOAA/ SPC)

Sustained winds are expected to be in the 20-25 mph range with gusts of up to 40 mph — that’s tropical storm strength — possible Sunday afternoon and through the nighttime hours. A wind advisory was posted for South Florida starting at noon on Sunday.

NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center is calling for a total of around three-quarters of an inch of rain in South Florida through Monday morning, which would be three-times the total recorded at Palm Beach International Airport all month.

With a cold front this muscular, you might think we’re in for a late-January cold snap, but that does not seem to be the case. When the weather clears Monday afternoon, highs will be in the mid-70s, which is slightly cooler than the low 80s that have characterized the last week, and Monday night’s forecat lows, according to the National Weather Service, should be in the upper 50s and low 60s, close to normal for the date.

Another shot of cool air following a more benign cold front, is on the way next weekend, forecasters said. January should end — and February should begin — with cooler than normal weather through the Florida peninsula. But above normal temperatures are expected to return by the second week of the new month, and the Climate Prediction Center’s four-week outlook has toasty temps taking hold throughout the entire U.S. South through at least Feb. 17.

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FREQUENT FLYERS ZAPPED: Air travelers who log 100,000 miles may absorb as much radiation as 20 chest X-rays, and just one flight can dose you with radiation stronger than a dental X-ray.

That much has long been known.

But a new NASA study says air travelers at higher latitudes may fly through radiation “clouds” that contain as much as double the amount of radiation normally absorbed during other flights.

The agency flew 264 research flights at altitudes of up to 56,700 feet from 2013 to 2017 and have found “surges in ionizing radiation that we interpret as analogous to localized clouds,” according to Kent Tobiska, lead author of the study.

The research was reported on NASA writer Tony Phillips’ website, SpaceWeather.com.

The surges occurred at high altitudes above 50 degrees latitude in both hemispheres. However, measurements by military aircraft suggest that radiation clouds may exist at middle-latitudes as well.

“We’ll be looking carefully for more ‘clouds’ as we continue to characterize the radiation environment at aviation altitudes,” Tobiska said.

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Author: jnelander

Freelance writer and editor

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