Saharan air zaps South Florida storm totals; low humidity prompts fire warnings

Florida humidity levels

Relative humidity levels are expected to fall into the 20 percent range over much of the Florida peninsula on Friday, and the ultra-dry conditions will continue through the weekend. (Credit: NWS-Tampa)

SATURDAY MORNING LOWS: (These aren’t necessarily official lows, but they will be close): Miami, 58; West Palm Beach, 53; Fort Lauderdale, 56; Naples, 54; Wellington, 53; Okeechobee, 48; Palmdale, 39; Immokalee, 43; Homestead, 54; Key West, 67.

Vero Beach, 47; Fort Pierce, 45; Melbourne, 49; Daytona Beach, 45; Orlando, 46.

Gainesville, 43; Ocala, 41; Bartow, 43; Clearwater, 55; Sarasota, 50; Tampa, 56; Sanibel Island, 60.

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ORIGINAL POST: The rain that was supposed to be associated with the strong cold front that moved down the Florida peninsula on Thursday was short-circuited by an unexpected shot of Saharan air.

The dry Saharan air layer inserted a dose of atmospheric stability over South Florida just as storms were starting to form off the Gulf Coast and head across the peninsula toward the metro areas, the National Weather Service said.

In fact, South Florida had been under a “Marginal” threat for strong thunderstorms and severe weather by the Storm Prediction Center around mid-afternoon on Thursday.

But the dry air layer “allowed for the line of showers and thunderstorms over the western areas of South Florida early this afternoon to fall apart as it moved through South Florida,” forecasters said on Thursday.

By the time Friday dawned, rain chances had dropped to zero with dew points plunging into the 40s — a true wintry air mass that will keep things pleasant over the weekend and into early next week.

For the first week of April, most official observation sites around South Florida will be skunked in terms of precipitation, with nary a drop at Palm Beach International Airport or Miami International, a trace in Fort Lauderdale and a hundredth of an inch in Naples.

Interior Collier County was really the only game in town for precipitation on Thursday, with 0.13 of an inch falling in Immokalee. To the north in Hendry County, LaBelle managed to pick up about a quarter of an inch.

Things were a little different in Central Florida, where Fort Pierce reported 0.74 of an inch of rain and Vero Beach checked in with a hefty 2.50 inches. Tampa reported 0.59 of an inch, St. Petersburg had 0.61 of an inch, Fort Myers reported 0.04 of an inch, but Sarasota only picked up a trace.

Most of the Florida peninsula was under a Red Flag warning Friday for ultra-dry conditions that are a threat for wildfires. The warning will likely be extended into the weekend, the National Weather Service said.

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HOT TOPIC: A new study contends that CO2 levels could climb over the next 100 to 200 years to levels not seen since the Triassic Period 200 million years ago, when there were no polar ice caps and predecessors of dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

By the 23rd century, the climate could be as hot as it was 420 million years ago, according to researchers from the University of Southampton in the UK. That’s assuming carbon-based fuels continue to be burned at their current rate, which would put CO2 levels at around Triassic levels of 2,000 parts per million (they soared passed 400 pmm in 2016).

“However, because the Sun was dimmer back then, the net climate forcing 200 million years ago was lower than we would experience in such a high CO2 future,” said Gavin Foster, lead author of the study and professor of isotope geochemistry at Southampton.

“So not only will the resultant climate change be faster than anything the Earth has seen for millions of years, the climate that will exist is likely to have no natural counterpart, as far as we can tell, in at least the last 420 million years.”

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Author: jnelander

Freelance writer and editor

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