Key West ties 93-year-old high temperature record

Key West record

(Image credit: NWS-Key West)

Meteorological spring begins a week from Sunday, but spring-like temperatures are already in place across the Florida peninsula, with some 90-plus readings in inland parts of South Florida.

In Broward County, Weston hit 90 and an observer near the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport reported a high of 92.

In the Keys, Key West tied a 93-year-old high temperature record Monday with 84. And in Central Florida, Leesburg tied a record warm minimum temperature with 65.

Toasty temps are set to continue until Friday, when a cold front knocks temperatures back into the 60s and 70s for the weekend. until then, expect more record warm temperatures.

“Naples will have to be watched as the records there are mid to upper 80s and we will certainly be in that ballpark,” the National Weather Service said in its Tuesday discussion from Miami.


FINANCIAL STORM WARNING: There are plenty of pins that have the potential to pop the economic bubble that has been pumped up by artificially low interest rates set by world banks over the last 10 years. One of them is the spread of the coronavirus, which is already doing damage to the Asian economies.

Here’s another one: extreme weather.

A paper published Monday by experts at the University of California at Davis argues that there’s too much unpriced risk in the energy market due to weather-related events, especially excessively high temperatures.

“Unpriced risk was the main cause of the Great Recession in 2007-2008,” said author Paul Griffin, an accounting professor at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management. “Right now, energy companies shoulder much of that risk. The market needs to better assess risk, and factor a risk of extreme weather into securities prices.”

Excessive heat has the ability to impact agriculture, interfere with delivery of energy and water, and disrupt transportation.

“Despite these obvious risks, investors and asset managers have been conspicuously slow to connect physical climate risk to company market valuations,” Griffin said in the paper published by the academic journal, Nature Energy. “Loss of property is what grabs all the headlines, but how are businesses coping? Threats to businesses could disrupt the entire economic system.”

He added: “While proprietary climate risk models my help some firms and organizations better understand future conditions attributable to climate change, extreme weather risk is still highly problematic from a risk estimation standpoint,” he concluded in the article.

“This is because with climate change, the patterns of the past are no guide to the future, whether it be one year, five years or 20 years out. Investors may also normalize extreme weather impacts over time, discounting their future importance.”

Climate change shocker: Third of all species could be extinct by 2070


An Alligator Juniper in Prescott, Arizona. The species is being pushed up into the mountains by climate change, a new study says. (Image credit: Tom Check via Wikimedia Commons)

Most people consider sea level rise the biggest problem related to climate change, and that is a critical issue, especially if you live in coastal areas and states like Florida. But here’s another dire consequence: a third of all plants and animal species could be extinct in the next 50 years.

Researchers at the University of Arizona looked at localized plant and animal extinctions in the past that have occurred in specific areas. They found that up to 50 percent of species suffered local extinctions if maximum temperatures increased by more than 0.5 degrees Celsius and 95 percent if they increased by more than 2.9 degrees.

As a result, the rate of extinction is highly dependent on how much warming occurs in the coming years, according to the researchers, Cristian Román-Palacios and John Wiens, of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona.

“In a way, it’s a ‘choose your own adventure,'” said Wiens. “If we stick to the Paris Agreement to combat climate change, we may lose fewer than two out of every 10 plant and animal species on Earth by 2070. But if humans cause larger temperature increases, we could lose more than a third or even half of all animal and plant species, based on our results.”

As one example, they considered the Alligator Juniper tree in Arizona. In flat lands, the plants are dying due to rising daytime temperatures. “Repeated surveys have shown that this species is literally being pushed up the mountain slopes under the impact of climate change,” the university said in a news release.

Here’s the kicker: Extinctions are projected to be two to four times more common in the tropics than in temperate regions. “This is a big problem, because the majority of plant and animal species occur in the tropics,” Román-Palacios said.

Both plant and animal species will be equally affected, the researchers said.


SPRING IN THE AIR: Clear skies with plenty of sunshine will give temperatures a boost through at least Thursday of this week, with highs rising into the low 80s on the East Coast and as high as the upper 80s in southwestern parts of the Florida peninsula, according to the National Weather Service.

Beyond that, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for below normal temperatures in all of Florida from next Saturday into the following week.

NOAA will release its full March forecast on Thursday. The latest long-range CFS model shows cooler weather hanging on the first week of March followed by above normal temperatures as we head into the second half of the month.

RECORD WATCH: Vero Beach posted a record warm low Sunday of 71 degrees. It beat the old record of 70 set in 1965.

‘Climate chaos’ cited in stinging report on declining bee populations


The bumblebee may soon go the way of the passenger pigeon. (Image credit: Joaquim Alves Gaspar/ Wikimedia Commons)

MORE CLIMATE CHANGE BUZZ: A rapidly warming world has bumblebees on a fast track to extinction, a new study says. That’s a big problem because bumblebees are the world’s best pollinators.

“We have now entered the world’s sixth mass extinction event, the biggest and most rapid global biodiversity crisis since a meteor ended the age of the dinosaurs,” says Peter Soroye, a PhD student in the Department of Biology at the University of Ottawa in Canada.

Soroye and colleagues developed a new type of climate analysis that takes into account how different species tolerate temperature change, drought and heatwaves. They then applied this technique to 66 bumble bee species across North America and Europe, collected over a 115-year period from 1900-2015.

Using this new “climate chaos” technique, the researchers showed how bumblebee populations have changed by comparing where bees are now to where they were historically.

“We found that populations were disappearing in areas where the temperatures had gotten hotter,” Soroye says. “Using our new measurement of climate change, we were able to predict changes both for individual species and for whole communities of bumble bees with a surprisingly high accuracy.”

They said the bees are disappearing at rates “consistent with a mass extinction.”

“If declines continue at this pace, many of these species could vanish forever within a few decades,” Soroye said.

Bumblebees, although they do not produce honey, are the most effective pollinators for tomatoes, squash and berries, so the loss would be significant.


GET OUT THE BEACH CHAIRS: The announcement last week that Earth had its warmest January on record was followed up with another milestone: Antarctica recorded its warmest temperature ever, a balmy 65 degrees at Esperanza Base along Antarctica’s Trinity Peninsula.

That busted the previous record high of 63.5 degrees set in 2015.

The peninsula is heating up quicker than most other places on the planet.

“In just the past 50 years, temperatures have surged a staggering 5 degrees in response to Earth’s swiftly warming climate,” the Capital Weather Gang at The Washington Post reported Friday.

“Around 87 percent of glaciers along the peninsula’s west coast have retreated in that time, the majority doing so at an accelerated pace since 2008.”

Sea level rise expected to displace 13 million, new study says

Thunder graphic

NEWS FLASH: The National Weather Service kicks off Severe Weather Awareness Week in Florida with a look at lightning — appropriately, since Florida is the lightning capital of North America and one of the most lightning prone areas on the planet. Florida has an average of 1.2 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes per year. “Most people struck by lightning are not killed, but suffer significant injuries,” according to NOAA. “On average, lightning kills 27 people each year in the United States and injures another 243. Florida averages 7 fatalities per year due to lightning and often leads the nation in lightning deaths.” There were three fatalities in Florida last year. (Image credit: NOAA)


OR YOU COULD LIVE ON A BOAT: How do Atlanta, Dallas, Denver and Las Vegas sound as places to live if you’re fleeing rising sea levels? A new study by the University of South Carolina looks at the probable impact of sea level rise and the redistribution of population that could result.

Researchers estimate 13 million coastal residents in the U.S. will need to move by 2100. Landlocked cities, especially those mentioned above, would get the brunt of the refugees, and the relocations will trigger battles for jobs, high-priced housing and other resources.

“By the end of the century, 6 feet of ocean-level rise would redraw the coastline of southern Florida, parts of North Carolina and Virginia and most of Boston and New Orleans,” according to a news release by USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering.

Researchers used artificial intelligence, which analyzed migration patterns after Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, to make their conclusions. They anticipate a 6-foot sea level rise.

“When migration occurs naturally, it is a great engine for economic activity and growth,” said co-author Juan Moreno Cruz, an economist and professor at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, who also participated in the project.

“But when migration is forced upon people, productivity falls and human and social capital are lost as communities are broken apart. Understanding these migration decisions helps economies and policy makers prepare for what is to come and do as much as possible to make the influx of migration a positive experience that generates positive outcomes.”


ECFL rainfall

ENOUGH TO WET YOUR WINDSHIELD: An early week cold front could drop a few hundredths of an inch of rain in East-Central Florida and South Florida, but nothing too dramatic. Stronger storms could dampen the upcoming weekend, forecasters said. (Image credits: NWS-Melbourne, above; NWS-Miami, below)

SFL rainfall

40 degree temperature drop forecast this weekend for parts of peninsula

ECFL highs

(Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

One of the challenges of living in Florida is dealing with its yo-yo temperatures during the winter. For example, most of the peninsula is forecast to be in the 80s today — with mid-80s over the interior all the way up into the Orlando area — but then plunge with Sunday’s cold front.

In Orlando today’s forecast high is 85, and Sunday morning’s forecast low is 47; Monday morning’s is 43. That’s a 40-degree temperature drop and any way you slice it or dice it, it takes some adjustment.

Put the thermostat on AC one day; flip it over to heat the next.

Fortunately, once this initial cold snap is over early next week it looks like we’ll be settling into a little longer pattern of temperatures that are close to average for this time of the year, according to the National Weather Service.

Friday’s run of the GFS forecast model suggests another period of much-above normal temperatures toward the middle of the month.

Normal highs in Miami edged down to their lowest of the year on Tuesday, from 77 to 76. That’s the normal high until January 23, when they begin the long march back up into the 80s and beyond. It’s a similar story around the state — the normal high in West Palm Beach bottoms out at 74 on Sunday, January 6 and begins bouncing back on January 18.

Orlando’s normal high is 71 and remains there until January 24, when it edges up to 72.

Tampa’s normal high of 70 begins climbing on January 28, when it’s 71.



Rainfall totals for Hurricane Florence were devastating to parts of the Carolinas. (Image credit: National Weather Service)

HURRICANE RESEARCH: Climate change was responsible for the epic amount of rainfall generated by Hurricane Florence, the 2018 storm that swamped parts of North Carolina with more than 35 inches of rain, a new study by Sony Brook University in New York concludes.

Prior to Florence’s landfall in September, a university research team projected that rainfall amounts would be up to 50 percent higher due to warmer water temperatures.

“Rainfall amounts over large ranges were significantly increased,” the university said in a news release Thursday. The size of the storm also expanded.

“This post-storm modeling around climate change illustrates that the impact of climate change on storms is here now and is not something only projected for our future,” said Kevin Reed, assistant professor in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook.

Reed explained the storm modeling techniques his team used in this YouTube video.

The research was published in Science Advances.

Colorado State unveils first look at 2020 hurricane season


The 2019 hurricane season was a busy one, but it mostly spared Florida. Will we be as lucky in 2020? (Image credit: NOAA/ NHC/ NASA)

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2020: Another active Atlantic hurricane season may be on the horizon for the Atlantic Basin in 2020, Colorado State University researchers said in an analysis released Thursday. But the El Niño forecast for next summer and fall is a huge unknown, and could swing next year’s tropical storm season in the other direction.

The projection, by CSU’s Philip Klotzbach, Michael Bell and Jhordanne Jones, calls for a 45 percent chance of total Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE — a measure of the strength and duration of all storms combined) of between 130-170. They put chances of an 80 ACE season at 45 percent; and a 50 ACE season at 10 percent.

A 170 ACE season typically has 14-17 named storms, nine to 11 hurricanes, and four or five major hurricanes. At the bottom end, an 80 ACE season has eight to 11 named storms, three to five hurricanes and one or two major hurricanes.

The 2019 season had an ACE of 130, with 18 named storms. A near-normal season has an ACE less than 103, according to NOAA. The average season has 12 named storms.

In addition to the presence of lack of an El Niño in the Pacific — above normal water temperatures that create wind shear in the Atlantic — forecasters also keep a close eye on the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation, which affects sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic.

“The Atlantic had three quiet hurricane seasons from 2013-2015, followed by a slightly above-average season in 2016, near record-breaking levels of activity in 2017 and slightly above-average seasons in 2018 and 2019,” they said. “Four above-average seasons lends confidence that the AMO remains in a positive phase, although the far North Atlantic has generally been characterized by below-average sea surface temperatures (SSTs).

“Another big question for 2020 is how El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) will trend over the next few months. As is typically the case at this time of year, there is considerable model disagreement as to what the phase of ENSO will look like for the summer and fall of 2020.”

The December analysis is considered a “qualitative discussion” by CSU and only suggests typical season numbers based on ACE. The first “formal forecast” will be released on April 2.


RAINFALL REPORT: More than 4 inches of rain soaked the Palm City area in northeastern Martin County during a 24-hour period from Wednesday morning to Thursday morning, according to the citizen observation network, CoCoRaHS.

Totals of 2-3 inches were common in the Stuart area and in southern Saint Lucie County.

A couple of observers to the south in eastern Palm Beach County and northeastern Broward County measured around 2 inches, but most areas picked up a third- to around a half-inch. And 1-2 inches fell in the Middle Keys.

Southwest Florida was a little drier and only a few hundredths of an inch fell in the Tampa area.

Still, it was the most significant rainfall of the month so far, and more was in the forecast as the frontal boundary that skidded into South Florida makes a U-turn and heads back to the north.

Drier air moves in for the end of the weekend but then another front on Tuesday increases rain chances again, according to the National Weather Service.

RECORD WATCH: Fort Myers set a record high Wednesday with 87 degrees. That beat the old record high for the date of 86 set in 1961. Miami tied a record high with 85, last set in 2012.

‘Muggy’ weather makes a December return; one positive effect of climate change

Montana winter wonder

PICTURE PERFECT: The National Weather Service in Key West is known for posting idyllic scenes on its websites and social media — often a sailboat at sunset framed by swaying coconut palms. But this was the unlikely picture on the agency’s Facebook page on Monday: a dramatic winter wonderland from the mountains of Montana. “What do you prefer,” Key West forecasters asked, “nearly year-round summer like Dry Tortugas National Park or some nice winter scenes like Glacier National Park?” (Image credit: NWS-Missoula)


Air conditioners should be ready for a mid-December workout as high pressure slides over the peninsula this week, driving temperatures as high as the upper 80s in inland parts of South Florida.

Not only are temps headed up, but so are humidity levels.

“Tuesday afternoon,” the National Weather Service in Miami said Monday, “could feel muggy and uncomfortable at times, especially over interior and West Coast areas. This will further push afternoon highs into warmer values, with low-mid 80s over the eastern half of SoFlo, and in the upper 80s for the west-interior and Gulf coast.”

Tuesday’s forecast high in Immokalee, inland Collier County, is 86. Already on Sunday, an observation station managed by the National Park Service in Big Cypress National Preserve just north of Alligator Alley, reported a high of 87.

Crank up the AC in Orlando, too, where Tuesday’s forecast high is 85. Tampa is expecting a high of 82, but then temperatures start moderating as a cold front moves into the peninsula and stalls out north of Lake Okeechobee, according to forecasters.

That keeps South Florida in the warm air, and highs return to the 80s, with temps falling to the upper 70s late in the weekend.

Jax forecast record high

Record breaking or near-record temperatures are expected in Jacksonville on Tuesday. (Image credit: NWS-Jacksonville)


A LOOK AT THE SUNNY SIDE: Climate change isn’t all bad — warmer temperatures can enhance crop yields, a new study shows.

While Florida struggles with rising sea levels, and prepares to dole out big bucks in order to elevate roads and highways, scientists have often speculated that milder temperatures can be crop friendly.

Yields for oilseed rape, which is planted in fall in the United Kingdom and then flowers in spring, may be up to 30 percent higher due to warm October weather, according to scientists at The John Innes Centre, an independent, international center for researching plant science, genetics and microbiology.

“By establishing the link between autumn temperatures and yield, our study highlights an example of climate change being potentially useful to farmers. Cold Octobers have a negative effect on yield if you are growing oilseed rape, and these are now rarer,” says Professor Steve Penfield an author of the study.

Penfield and colleagues found that the plants stop growing following a “floral transition” at the end of October. Warmer temperatures allow the plant to grow for longer, increasing the potential for higher yields.