February-type temps expected over holiday weekend

NOAA upgrades Hurricane Michael to Category 5 in new post-season analysis

PHOTO - Hurricane Michael

(Image credit: NOAA)

Last fall’s Hurricane Michael has been upgraded to a Category 5 at landfall — making it the first Category 5 storm to make landfall in the U.S. since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Michael hit the coast with winds of 160 mph on October 10, 2018 near Mexico Beach, Florida.

The upgrade, made after “a detailed post-storm analysis” and announced Friday, also makes Michael one of only four Category 5 storms to strike the U.S. in recorded history. The others are the Labor Day Hurricane in 1935 and Hurricane Camille in 1969.

“Michael is also the strongest hurricane landfall on record in the Florida Panhandle and only the second known Category 5 landfall on the northern Gulf coast,” NOAA said in a news release.

“Category 5 winds were likely experienced over a very small area at and near the coast, and the change in estimated wind speeds is of little practical significance in terms of the impacts associated with the storm. Michael produced devastating winds and storm surge and was directly responsible for 16 deaths and about $25 billion in damage in the United States.”

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Gulf satellite

(Image credit: NOAA)

The cold front expected to rip across the Florida peninsula was developing in the Gulf of Mexico early Friday morning. A Coastal Flood advisory was in effect for the West Coast, along with high surf producing “very dangerous conditions” along the Gulf Coast.

In East-Central Florida, a High Wind Advisory was in effect until 10 p.m. Forecasters said winds could gust up to 40 mph, except during thunderstorms, when they could gust “in excess” of 60 mph.

Heavy rain was possible anywhere on the peninsula. Look for a roundup of rainfall totals on Saturday. Fingers crossed for no severe weather or damaging storms.

EASTER SUNDAY: Since the holiday is so late this year, we might have expected steamy, tropical weather for Easter, but that will not be the case. Sunday’s forecast high in Miami is only 76 after a morning low of 66, with pleasant, dry air taking hold. The normal high in Miami is 84 and the normal low is 69.

West Palm Beach is forecast to start the day out at 60, which is the normal low for February 18.

Sunday morning’s Orlando temperature should sink to around 54 degrees, and reach a high of 79 under clear skies.

Tampa’s forecast low for Sunday morning is 57, with an expected high of 76.

In Jacksonville, wake-up weather looks like a rather chilly 51 degrees, but under lots of sun the forecast high is 77.

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RECORD WATCH: Naples tied a record high Thursday with 90, matching a record originally set in 1989. It was 89 in Marathon, which tied a record set in 2013 and 2015.

DROUGHT WATCH: Abnormally Dry conditions spread east across the panhandle in the new report by the U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday. Dry conditions are now as far south and east as Levy County. The five western counties in the panhandle, from Escambia east to Holmes County, remain under Moderate Drought.

The only Abnormally Dry conditions on the peninsula are in Indian River and Brevard counties.

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Florida braces for stormy Friday; a look back at Tropical Storm Arlene

NFL severe storm risk

(Image credit: NWS-Jacksonville)

North Florida has been put under an “Enhanced” risk for severe weather on Friday by NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center. “There is a good chance storms could produce damaging winds with isolated tornadoes possible,” the National Weather Service in Jacksonville said Thursday.

The Enhanced risk area includes cities of Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Gainesville and Lake City. The “Slight” risk area runs from Tampa on the West Coast over to the Treasure Coast on the Atlantic side and up to around Daytona Beach.

South Florida, from Lake Okeechobee south, is under a “Marginal” risk. Here’s the wider view:

day2otlk_0600

(Image credit: NOAA/ SPC)

Note that a whopping five states are under an Enhanced risk with this system — Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. Areas as far north as Pennsylvania and New Jersey will be at Marginal risk with this powerful storm, which will send a cold front ripping down the Florida peninsula on Friday.

Not all that much rain is forecast from the front and its associated squall line, since it will be fast-moving. National Weather Service offices in Miami and Melbourne are forecasting around an inch in South Florida with perhaps up to 2 inches in Central Florida.

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Off season TS NOAA

A plot of all off-season tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic. (Image credit: NOAA)

APRIL ANNIVERSARIES: “Don’t get lulled into a sense of complacency based on the calendar.” That’s the gist of a new piece posted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Wednesday — 43 days from the official start of the 2019 hurricane season.

“The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30, but there is nothing magical about these dates,” NOAA, the parent agency of the National Hurricane Center and National Weather Service says. “Tropical cyclones can appear almost anytime.”

It’s a timely reminder since Friday is the second anniversary of one of only two tropical storms ever to form during the month of April. That would be Tropical Storm Arlene, which formed east of Bermuda on April 19, 2017. No one knew it at the time, but Arlene kicked off what was arguable the most stressful Atlantic hurricane season since 2005.

The season featured 10 hurricanes and six majors, including blockbuster storms Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, the latter two being Category 5 storms. All three caused catastrophic damage.

The only other storm to form in April was Tropical Storm Ana in 2003 on April 20.

“Tropical storms have formed in every month outside of hurricane season, and there have been a few hurricanes too,” NOAA notes. “May is the most active month outside the official season, with seven named storms occurring during the past 10 years, including two in 2012 – Alberto and Beryl.

“And while it’s unusual, all it takes is the right combination of atmospheric conditions and warmer ocean waters for a tropical cyclone to form, regardless of the date.”

As the anniversaries of Ana and Arlene approach this weekend, the Atlantic is quiet, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Another round of cool temps expected this weekend

day3otlk_0730

(Image credit: NOAA/ SPC)

The strong cold front that’s expected to punch through the state on Friday will leave another round of unseasonably cool air in its wake, forecasters say.

After some lows earlier this week in the 40s and 50s, conditions have warmed up around the Florida peninsula — but not to the record levels that were previously forecast.

The National Weather Service emphasized Wednesday that the forecast for Friday’s storm system and accompanying cold front was still evolving, but NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center had put most of the state at “Slight” risk for severe weather, from Lake Okeechobee north into the Central Panhandle.

South Florida’s risk was put at “Marginal” by the SPC.

High end rainfall forecasts for East-Central Florida from almost 2.5 inches northwest of Orlando to around an inch and a half on the Treasure Coast. Forecasters said in their Wednesday forecast discussion that rainfall was likely to be heavy, but of short duration.

South Florida could pick up just under an inch and a half, but a half-inch to an inch was most likely, forecasters said.

We’re getting toward the end of the season for cool weather incursions, so enjoy the weekend!

Sunday morning post-cold front forecast lows: Orlando, 55; Gainesville, 50; Tallahassee, 47; Lake City, 46; Jacksonville, 52; Tampa, 56; Miami, 64; Homestead, 62; and Key West, 70.

High end rain CFL

(Image credits: NWS-Melbourne, above; NWS-Miami, below)

High end rain SFL

Pretty cool: Florida temps plunge into 40s and 50s

Tuesday morning’s cool and crisp temperatures offered a refreshing change of pace around the Florida peninsula, especially as we head into the warm weather months of steamy temps without a break.

It was in the low 60s along much of the South Florida coast, with a few upper 50s west of Lake Okeechobee and also north of the Fort Myers area.

A Weather Underground observer reported 52 degrees north of Avon Park, and northeast of Tampa it was 51 degrees.

Also on the West Coast, it was in the mid- to upper-40s from Spring Hill north to Cross City. In North Florida, it was 44 in Lake City.

Panhandle temps were mostly in the 40s except 50s were spread across the immediate Gulf Coast.

The cool weather didn’t seem to make it down to the Keys, where it was in the mid-70s.

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Friday SPC

(Image credit: NOAA/ SPC)

WEEK-ENDING WEATHER: The next cold front rolls through Friday, and for now the Storm Prediction Center has taken South Florida off the severe weather map. The rest of the peninsula, though, from Lake Okeechobee north to the Georgia state line and west to around near Tallahassee, was under a 15 percent chance for severe weather on Friday.

That designation could continue to change, though, and forecasters in Miami said Tuesday morning: “It is still early to describe details about timing, impacts and duration of the potential severe weather.”

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ULTIMATE WEATHER WINDOW: Weather forecasting has improved dramatically over the past decades and continues to get better. But there’s a limit to how far out weather can be predicted, a new study by Penn State concludes.

“The obvious question that has been raised from the very beginning of our whole field is, what’s the ultimate limit at which we can predict day-to-day weather in the future,” said Fuqing Zhang, professor of meteorology and atmospheric science and director of the Center for Advanced Data Assimilation and Predictability Techniques at Penn State. “We believe we have found that limit and on average, that it’s about two weeks.”

A “predictability limit” for weather forecasting was first proposed in the 1960s by Edward Lorenz, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology mathematician and meteorologist. He theorized that weather can’t be predicted beyon a certain point “in principle.”

Zhang’s conclusion about the two-week window is “remarkably closes to Lorenz’s estimate,” he said.

Researchers used the most reliable forecast models to predict weather under “near picture-perfect” initial conditions. Even then, predictions were reasonably accurate up to about two weeks.

“We have made significant advances in weather forecasting for the past few decades, and we’re able to predict weather five days in advance with high confidence now,” Zhang said. “If in the future we can predict additional days with high confidence, that would have a huge economic and social benefit.”

Severe weather possible statewide on Friday, forecasters say

Daytona Beach breaks 90-year-old temperature record

Friday storm potential

(Image credit: NOAA/ SPC)

It’s early in the week and things can change, but most of the Florida peninsula is at risk for severe weather for Friday into Friday night, according to NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center.

The official forecast is for a “Slight” risk for the state, which translates to a 15 percent possibility of strong storms.

The SPC risk categories range from Marginal to Slight to Enhanced to Moderate to High. The strong storm system that is expected to sweep through the southern Great Lakes around mid-week will bring some Enhanced chances of severe weather possibilities to Texas, Arkansas and Missouri before targeting the East Coast on Friday and Saturday.

National Weather Service in Melbourne: “A trailing strong cold front is forecast to cross the forecast area during the day Friday into Friday evening, accompanied by a band of strong to possibly severe storms.” They added: “The primary threat should be straight line winds.”

NWS Jacksonville: “Models are also showing widespread rainfall amounts of 1-2 inches of rain, so minor flooding cannot be ruled out as well. Strong and isolated severe storms are likely to move through the region on Friday, especially if the storms come through during the time of peak heating, with all modes of severe weather possible.”

Unusually warm temperatures should be the rule around Florida until the cold front arrives, with highs in the 90s on the West Coast and in interior areas.

More record warm low temperatures were broken on Sunday. The low in Daytona Beach was only 72, which busted a record that had been on the books for 90 years. The old record warm low was 71 set on April 14, 1929.

Also:

  • Orlando had a low of 71, which beat the old mark of 70 set in in 1974.
  • Melbourne’s low of 74 was a degree warmer than the 73-degree record set in 2014.
  • Vero Beach set a record with 75, a degree warmer than the old record of 74 set in 1980.
  • Fort Pierce’s low of 74 beat a record low of 73 set way back in 1948.
  • Jacksonville’s low of 70 tied a record set in 1947.
  • Gainesville’s low of 72 broke a record of 70 set in 1994.
  • In South Florida, Miami’s low of 78 tied a record set in 1975.
  • Fort Lauderdale’s 79 degree low beat the previous record warm low of 77 set in 2015.
  • Naples’ low of 74 was a degree warmer than the old record of 73 set in 1978.
  • And in the Keys, Marathon’s low of 82 was a degree warmer than the previous record of 81 set in 2013. That 82 is also the warmest low so far this year anywhere in Florida.

After slight cool-down, more record temps expected in Florida by mid-week

NFL storms

Parts of the Central Florida panhandle were under a Tornado Watch Sunday morning as a cold front approached. North Florida expected strong storms, but the squall line was forecast to weaken Sunday night into Monday as the front associated with the system slides down the peninsula. (Image credit: NWS-Jacksonville)

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TORRID TEMPS IN TUNDRA: Canada’s Central Yukon Territory is the warmest its been in 13,600 years, researchers at the University of Toronto Mississauga have concluded in a new study.

Paleoclimatologists, who use radiocabon dating preserved in permafrost, along with other methods, were able to reconstruct summer temperatures over the last 13,600 years. They found that temperatures are nearly 2 degrees Celsius warmer than any previous summers during the Holocene period.

“We’re seeing the evidence right now that climate warming is destabilizing permafrost in northern Canada and releasing greenhouse gases,” said lead author Trevor Porter. “This is potentially the new normal and, if it accelerates in the near future, it threatens to further amplify global climate change.”

In March, the temperature soared to an unprecedented 71 degrees in Yohin Lake in Canada’s Northwest Territories and 76 in Tofino, British Columbia. Temperatures in the Arctic have been increasing at more than twice the rate of increases in the continental U.S., experts say.

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MORE RECORD WARMTH FOR FLORIDA: Overnight lows could run up to 10 degrees above average this week as an unusually strong ridge of high pressure builds over the state, forecasters said Sunday.

For perspective, the normal low this time of the year in Miami is 68; the normal high is 83.

After a slight cool-down statewide on Tuesday and Wednesday as the cold front clears the peninsula, highs will pop back to “significantly” above normal by mid-week, the National Weather Service said.

A round of record warm lows occurred on Saturday. Here’s the rundown:

  • Fort Pierce tied a record warm low with 74 degrees. The city hasn’t seen an April 13 low that warm in 71 years — the record was originally set in 1948.
  • Marathon set a new record warm low with a balmy 81 — easily beating the old record of 79 set in 2015.
  • The low in Fort Lauderdale was 77, which tied a record warm low set in 2015.
  • Daytona Beach tied a record warm low with 72, a mark originally set in 1991.
  • Melbourne tied a record warm low with 73, matching the record set in 2015.
  • The low was also 73 in Vero Beach, tying a record set in 1991.
  • Sanford broke a record warm low with 72. The old record was 71 set in 2001.
  • Jacksonville’s low of 71 beat the previous record warm minimum of 69 degrees set in 2015.
  • Gainesville’s low of 71 smashed the old record, set in 1974, by 3 degrees.

Gainesville ties 111-year-old heat record; early week cold front to bring cooler temps

day2otlk_0600

(Image credit: NOAA/ SPC)

The storm system that’s causing all the messy weather in the central part of the U.S. could trigger some severe storms in the Florida panhandle and in North Florida on Sunday, the Storm Prediction Center says. But forecasters say the system is expected to move so quickly to the northeast that it won’t have much energy left by the time its associated cold front gets into Central and South Florida.

One good thing about the storm system: It’s expected to bring more seasonal conditions to the Florida peninsula.

“A noticeably drier (and ever so slightly cooler) air mass will spill into (South Florida) Monday night into Tuesday as high pressure builds into the area,” National Weather Service forecasters in Miami said Saturday.

CFL temps

(Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

After blistering temperatures near 90 around the Florida peninsula Friday and Saturday, April-appropriate weather looks to be on the way by the middle of next week.

The forecast low Tuesday morning in Orlando and Tampa: 61 degrees; Gainesville: 54; Lake City, 51; and Jacksonville, 56. Even interior areas of South Florida are forecast to sink into the low 60s.

RECORD WATCH: Friday’s high in Gainesville was 92, which tied a record for the date, set 111 years ago in 1908. Another record high was set in Marathon with 90 degrees, beating the previous record of 89 set in 2013.