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.


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.”


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.”


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)


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.


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.

40 mph wind gusts possible; Marathon ties record high

NFL winds

Gusty winds will pound Florida’s East Coast, from Jacksonville all the way down into South Florida, on Wednesday. (Image credit: NWS-Jacksonville)

Winds could gust as high as 40 mph along Florida’s East Coast Wednesday and Thursday, the National Weather Service said.

Boating conditions could be dangerous with an upper level low setting up just off the northern Bahamas. That will create a tight pressure gradient between the low and high pressure building to the northwest.

Winds will start to diminish on Friday, forecasters said, but Friday will still be breezy.


CLIMATE CHANGE DELAYED? The Atlantic ocean current known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is slowing down — and it could have major implications for the U.S. East Coast as well as Europe. But not, perhaps, for hundreds of years.

Ultimately, much warmer temperatures may result along the East Coast, leading to stronger hurricanes and harming fisheries. Meanwhile, temperatures could plunge in Europe, the new study the Earth Institute at Columbia University says.

Researchers determined that the current weakened 400 years before a major cold era 13,000 years ago. It then began strengthening 400 prior to a warming trend 11,000 years ago.

“Our reconstructions indicate that there are clear climate precursors provided by the ocean state — like warning signs, so to speak,” said Francesco Muschitiello, the lead author of the study.

Researchers said the lag time of 400 years between the slow-down and climate change was “two or three times greater” than expected. They said evidence suggests that the current weakening began 150 years ago.

Co-author William D’Andrea said that “if the AMOC were to weaken to the degree it did back then, it could take hundreds of years for major climate changes to actually manifest.”

Muschitiello adds: “It is clear that there are some precursors in the ocean, so we should be watching the ocean. The mere fact that AMOC has been slowing down, that should be a concern based on what we have found.”


First tornado warning

FIRST ALERT: Monday was the 71st anniversary of the first tornado warning issued in the U.S. The alarm was sounded at Tinker Air force Base in Oklahoma on March 25, 1948. Another tornado had slammed the base five days earlier. (Image credit: NWS-Key West)


Marathon record high

RECORD WATCH: Monday’s high in Marathon was 87, which tied a record for the date. It was previously set in 2005. (Image credit: NWS-Key West)

Tuesday cold front won’t pack much of a punch, forecasters say

CFL expected rainfall
Only light rain is forecast with the arrival of next week’s cold front. Click on image for link to larger original. (Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

A cold front on Tuesday is expected to push temperatures down slightly around the peninsula — and maybe deliver a few sprinkles.

Lows are forecast to dip into the upper 40s in North Florida and the panhandle, the mid- to upper-50s in Central Florida, and the upper 50s to low 60s in South Florida.

“Rain chances for South Florida with this frontal passage are not as high as what we saw last week,” National Weather Service forecasters said their discussion Sunday.

Precipitation probabilities range from 40-50 percent in Central Florida and 20-30 percent in South Florida.


TROPICAL TROUBLE IN ATLANTIC: A rare tropical storm formed Sunday in the South Atlantic, Weather Underground reported.

Tropical Storm Iba was 600 miles northeast of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with winds of 40 mph and it was moving toward the southeast, away from land. Winds could top out at 50 mph, Director of Meteorology Jeff Masters said.

It was “likely to slowly weaken by mid-week, never attaining hurricane status,” he said.

Iba is only the ninth tropical or subtropical system in the South Atlantic to get a name.


MICHAEL UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: The University of Alabama is conducting a study on the impact of Hurricane Michael, the strongest storm ever to hit the Florida panhandle. Participants are being asked to take a 20 minute survey and may also be asked to do brief interviews or participate in focus groups.

Researchers are trying to determine how hurricane warnings were utilized during the storm in order to fine tune future hurricane warning messages.

Michael ripped through the Gulf of Mexico and intensified rapidly, making landfall on the Florida panhandle on October 10 with sustained winds of 155 mph,. That’s just under Category 5 strength. At least 45 deaths were reported in Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia.

The information provided by participants will remain confidential.

Stormy week coming into focus as another cold front stalls over peninsula

The first significant rainfall of the month may be headed for Central and South Florida next week, the National Weather Service says.

Six and seven-day forecasts are subject to change, but forecast models are showing strong storms forming along a front that stalls over the southern peninsula early next week. NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center is projecting — for now — as much as 2-3 inches of rain for Florida East Coast, from the East-Central peninsula down to South Florida. The forecast will undoubtedly evolve over the next several days.

projected rainfall

Projected rainfall from Monday through Wednesday. (Image credit: NOAA/ WPC)

Here’s what National Weather Service forecasters said on Wednesday:

Miami: “Both global models hint at the possibility for cyclogenesis in our vicinity. At this time, agreement is poor in regards to timing and overall location. The most recent ECMWF run depicts more of a direct impact for South Florida while the GFS keeps much of the disturbance to the south before amplifying over the western Atlantic.”

Key West: “For Sunday through Tuesday, forecast guidance continues to squash the subtropical ridge southward into the Caribbean as a longwave trough is carved out over the eastern states. This allows the weak front to slide down across South Florida and the Keys by Monday into Tuesday, when it may interact with a disturbance riding along the subtropical jet. The details remain murky at this time, but it appears that a period of wetter than normal weather is in store for early next week.”

Melbourne: Forecasters are calling for a 60-70 percent chance of rain on Tuesday, but they add: “Further adjustments (upward?) are quite likely leading up to the event.”

Tampa: “Since we are talking about days 6 and 7, overall confidence in any one solution is low. The ECMWF has a large area of rather significant rainfall moving across the Florida peninsula as low pressure moves eastward across the central Gulf. The GFS, meanwhile, has a more suppressed solution as a deeper upper-level trough digs into the central Gulf pushing the frontal boundary to our southeast. Run to run consistency is better in the ECMWF than the GFS so will favor the wetter solution showing showers and storms returning for Monday and continuing through the day Tuesday.”


RECORD WATCH: Marathon reported a record warm low on Tuesday, 77 degrees. It broke the previous mark for March 12 of 74, set in 2016.


SKY HIGH HAZARD: We have enough to worry about with air travel, but now another potential problem has been identified: bombardment by neutrons.

A survey by and Earth to Sky Calculus detected neutrons on board flights during a five-continent survey from December 2018 to February 2019. Radiation sensors were used during 83 flight hours at 30,000 feet.

“The results were eye-opening,” science writer Tony Phillips noted in an article posted Tuesday. The amount of cosmic radiation was “about the same as 23 panoramic dental x-rays or two and a half chest X-rays. Moreover, 41 percent of the dose came in the form of neutrons. This confirms that cosmic-ray neutrons are abundant at aviation altitudes and must be considered in any discussion of ‘Rads on a Plane.'”

Phillips said the study “focuses on neutrons, a more potent type of radiation from deep space. Studies show that neutrons can be ten times more effective at causing biological damage compared to X-rays and gamma-rays in the same energy range. Neutrons are so effective, they are used for cancer therapy, killing tumors better than other forms of radiation.”

Check out the full story for more information and analysis.

Florida warm-up continues; researchers weigh hurricane intensification trends

SFL forecast highs

A TASTE OF SPRING: Florida’s long-term forecast can be summed up in one word: Nice! Highs will be  in the 80s everywhere from North-Central Florida on down the peninsula with temperatures edging up into the mid-80s by mid-week in interior areas of South Florida. Ditto for the Tampa area down to Fort Myers. On top of that, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center came out with a revised four-week outlook on Friday calling for above normal temperatures to continue into March over the Florida peninsula. The CPC had been forecasting below average temps for the first half of the month. It will be interesting to see NOAA’s new March forecast, which will be issued on Thursday. Maybe Punxsutawney Phil was right! (Image credits: NOAA/ NWS/ CPC)

WCFL forecast

CFL highs




ALARM BELLS ON HURRICANE INTENSITY: More Atlantic hurricanes are undergoing rapid intensification due to climate change, a new study says. NOAA researchers looked at storms that formed between 1982 and 2009 and found a significant increase in the number of hurricanes that underwent rapid intensification, defined as greater than a 35 mph increase over a 24 hour period.

“The greatest change was seen for the strongest 5 percent of storms, whose 24-hour intensification rates increased by 3 – 4 knots per decade,” said Weather Underground’s Jeff Masters, who reported on the study in a blog post on Wednesday.

He said a separate 2018 study “predicted a dramatic increase in the global incidence of rapid intensification due to global warming, and a 20 percent increase in the number of major hurricanes globally. For the Atlantic, the model projected an increase from three major hurricanes per year in the climate of the late 20th century, to five major hurricanes per year in the climate of the late 21st century.”

The last few years are filled with examples of rapidly intensifying hurricanes. Last year’s Hurricane Michael’s winds increased by 45 mph in the 24 hours before it walloped the Florida panhandle with winds of 155 mph.

A year earlier, examples of storms that intensified rapidly included Harvey and Maria.

Some models are also predicting an increase in the number of Category 5 hurricanes with winds of at least 190 mph by the end of this century.


After intensifying rapidly in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Michael reached peak strength with 155 mph winds before making landfall in the Florida Panhandle on October 10. (Image credit: NASA)

Record temps on Florida’s East Coast; talking may drive you buggy, researchers say

WCFL highs

TOASTY TEMPS TO START THE WEEK: Interior areas of West-Central Florida should see highs in the mid-80s on Monday, according to the National Weather Service. (Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

Record warm nighttime temperatures are popping up once again on Florida’s East Coast.

Sunday’s low at Marathon in the Keys was only 76 degrees, which tied a record warm minimum for February 10 — which was set just a year ago.

A record warm minimum temperature was also recorded at Vero Beach — 68 degrees, tying a mark set 37 year ago in 1982. Orlando tied a record warm minimum with 65, matching a mark set in 1990; and Sanford also bottomed out at 65, tying a record warm temperature record set in 1982.

RAINFALL REPORT: North-Central Florida and Northeast Florida were slammed with another round of rain Sunday, with some areas picking up around a half- to three-quarters of an inch.

Melbourne reported record rainfall with 0.76 of an inch. That was good enough to beat the previous record for February 10 of 0.61 of an inch, set in back in 1983.

February is typically one of the driest months of the year in Florida — it’s the absolute driest in South Florida — but a series of stalled cold fronts have been making this February an exception. The timing is good, since the East Coast and some interior areas had been building toward serious drought conditions since last fall.


SPRING SNEAK PEEK: The Old Farmer’s Almanac expects a wet spring in Florida. “While heading to the beach in April may sound like a good idea, the God of Thunder may have other plans,” The Almanac says in its forecast.

NOAA’s spring forecast will be issued a week from Thursday on February 21. It’ll include separate forecasts for March and one for March, April and May.

For now, NOAA is sticking with its prediction that Florida will be cooler and wetter than average the last week of February and the first week of March.


WHAT’S THE BUZZ? If you’re sitting outside on your patio without a screened enclosure you may want to keep the noise down — and not just to appease your neighbors. It turns out mosquitoes can hear humans from 32 feet away, researchers have discovered.

A conversation in Florida may be akin to ringing a dinner bell, although there’s no definitive proof that human voices cause the pesky bugs to home in on people, according to the study by Cornell University and Binghamton University.

“The insects are known to pick up sensory cues such as carbon dioxide, odors and warmth to locate people,” Cornell says in a news release. “But the results do show an intriguing correlation ….”