Hot & cold running weather reports

HOT: The world’s oceans have absorbed 40-50 percent more heat than previously thought, the Washington Post said Friday in a story based on a hot-off-the-presses report in Science Magazine.

Media attention is often focused on land temperatures, and global temperatures that include both land and sea. These are in near-record territory every month and every year, but it’s interesting to note that ocean temps have been rising relentlessly. Last year was the warmest on record for the oceans, as was 2017 and 2016, Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and an author of the report, told the newspaper.

Trenberth and other researchers have put the blame on ocean temperatures for historic rainmakers like last year’s Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Warm ocean water is also often reflected in daily data reported by the National Weather Service right here in Florida. Key West, positioned out in the middle of all that warm water, posted eight record warm minimum temperatures in December — and one this month so far.

Exactly how warm are the oceans this winter? We don’t know because this function of the government is shut down. On its Office of Satellite and Product Operations website, NOAA says simply: “This site will not be updated.”


The four-week outlook released Friday shows the East firmly in the grip of below normal temperatures. (Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

COLD: The medium-range (three- to four-week) forecasts have been flip-flopping recently over whether the eastern U.S. can expect an unusually cold end to January and beginning of February. Friday’s release of the four-week outlook is back at it, predicting a cold snap for the U.S. east of the Mississippi, including Florida.

The Climate Prediction Center is calling for warm weather in the Plains States, The Rocky Mountain States and along the West Coast

This scenario is reflected in the CFS climate model for the period of January 26-February 2 and from February 9-February 16.

The GFS is showing temperatures below zero the weekend of January 26 as far south as Missouri, with freezing temperatures in Florida as far south as Orlando.

keys temps

TOASTY MORNING TEMPS IN THE KEYS: It was up to 15 degrees warmer than Friday morning temperatures, the National Weather Service says. Note the pre-dawn temperature in Duck Key — 75 degrees! (Image credit: NWS-Key West)


Winter blows into Florida on gusts near 50 mph

oWinter solstice

Friday was unusually mild across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, and near normal around the Midwest and Great Lakes. Nevertheless, winter 2018-19 officially arrived Friday at 5:23 p.m. It will end on Wednesday, March 20 at 5:58 p.m. (Image credit: NWS-Miami)


In Florida, the new season started off with a bang — winds were howling from Central Florida down into the Keys.

Maximum gusts around South Florida and the Keys on Friday:

North end of Lake Okeechobee, 49 mph; Fowey Rocks, Biscayne Bay, 48 mph; Palm Beach International Airport, 41 mph; Marco Island Airport, 48 mph; Naples Municipal Airport, 45 mph; Fort Lauderdale, 47 mph; Hollywood, 49 mph; Miami International Airport, 46 mph; Key West, 37 mph; Marathon, 35 mph.

East-Central Florida: 41 mph; Orlando, 38 mph; Titusville, 37 mph.

West-Central Florida: Tampa, 45 mph, Sarasota, 39 mph.


Jan forecast temps

(Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

JANUARY SNEAK PEEK: NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for abnormally warm temperatures in January. Most of the southeastern U.S. is likely to experience below normal temperatures in January, forecasters said, but above normal temps are likely in Florida from around Lake Okeechobee south into the Keys.


DROUGHT UPDATE: Moderate Drought maintained its hold on the eastern side of the Florida peninsula this week, according to Thursday’s release from the U.S. Drought Monitor. The only change from the previous week was a slight expansion of Abnormally Dry conditions in North-Central Florida.

The conditions were analyzed on Tuesday, however, and so do not take into account the heavy rains in Central Florida on Wednesday and Thursday. Those rainfall totals will be taken into account in next week’s report.

Week forecast to wind down with wind and rain

WCFL temps

It was chilly Wednesday morning in West-Central Florida, with freezing temperatures at Brooksville and Crystal River. (Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

Hold on to your hats on the East Coast as this week winds down — the National Weather Service is predicting wind gusts of up to 25 mph Thursday and Friday.

It’s actually a continuation of the gusty winds we had earlier this week post-cold front. West Palm Beach recorded a gust of 34 mph on Tuesday; Fort Lauderdale recorded a 29 mph gust and in Naples winds were gusting up to 25 mph. Boca Raton Airport reported a 33 mph gust.

In East-Central Florida, winds gusted up to 30 mph.

Winds calmed down on Wednesday morning, but there were still wind chills in the low 30s from Orlando over to Daytona BeachWednesday early morning temps: Upper 40s to low 50s in southeast Florida; mid-40s in southwest Florida; upper 30s to low 40s in Central Florida; and upper 20s to low 30s in northwest Florida with freezing temperatures reported as far south as Williston southwest of Gainesville and in Brooksville, where it was 32.

Unofficially, Live Oak checked in with a very chilly early morning temperature of 27 degrees.

With the late week warm-up, rain chances rise again topping out at 50 percent in South Florida on Friday night; 70 percent in the Orlando and Tampa areas, according to forecasters.

NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center shows the heaviest rain in North Florida with dimishing totals toward the south.


ALARM BELLS IN THE ARCTIC: The Arctic had the second-warmest air temperatures on record over the winter and the second-lowest overall sea-ice coverage, NOAA reported Tuesday. The Bering sea had the lowest level of winter ice on record.

The agency’s annual Arctic Report Card also noted a “long-term population decline of the region’s iconic wildlife species, the caribou” and said that toxic algae were being fed into the Arctic Ocean by currents from other oceans worldwide.

Key West notches record high; a first look at holiday forecasts

Key West record

(Image credit: NWS-Key West)

Summertime temps keep returning to Florida’s weather stage for an encore. Expect that to continue this week, despite the lack of applause.

Key West posted a record high temperature Sunday of 88 degrees, with a heat index of 99. The temperature beat the previous record of 87, set in 2015.

As the warm front rolled up from the southern tip of Florida Saturday and Sunday, hot and humid weather was left in its wake.

Fort Lauderdale had a record warm low temperature of 79 Sunday morning, busting the old record warm low of 78, also set in 2015.

It was 86 in West Palm Beach, with a heat index of 93 and a tropical dew point of 76.

Pembroke Pines in Broward County checked in with a high of 89; Fort Myers (Lee County), West Kendall and Opa-locka in Miami-Dade County hit 88; and it was 87 in Winter Haven, Punta Gorda, and Pompano Beach. The cool autumn weather was confined to the north, with highs of 75 and 65 in Jacksonville and Tallahassee, respectively.

WCFL temps

Steamy temps will continue over most the week over the Florida peninsula, the National Weather Service says. (Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

Veterans Day (next Monday; via National Weather Service):

  • Miami: Partly sunny, 82 and 74.
  • Key West: Mostly sunny, 83 and 76.
  • Orlando: Chance of showers, 79 and 65.
  • Tampa: Partly sunny, 79 and 64.
  • Jacksonville: Mostly cloudy, 72 and 56.
  • Tallahassee: Partly sunny, 68 and 49.

Thanksgiving Day (two weeks from Thursday, via AccuWeather):

  • Miami, 76 and 72 with mostly cloudy skies.
  • Key West, showers and thunderstorms, 78 and 74.
  • Orlando, cloudy skies with a high 73 and a low of 63.
  • Tampa: mostly cloudy, 73 and 61.
  • Jacksonville, cloudy, 67 and 56.
  • Tallahassee, cloudy, 66 and 50.


CULTURAL SHIFTS: How have civilizations adapted to climate change in the past? Communities packed up and moved, started growing different crops and created new trade networks, a new study by the University of California at San Diego and the Crow Canyon Archeological Center in Colorado concludes.

Focused on Asia during a major cooling period 3,000-3,700 years ago, they found people turned to raising livestock when grassland could no longer support grains. They also turned to trade, which eventually led to the development of the Silk Road, the paper, published in Science Advances, argues.

However, the researchers warn that it may be tougher for modern societies to deal with global warming.

“Crises are opportunities for culture change and innovation,” said archeologist Kyle Bocinsky. “But the speed and scale of our current climate change predicament are different.”

Tropical Storm Kirk forms; new depression expected to fizzle

Fall2016 (1)

FALL FACTS: The average date of the first sub-60-degree temperatures in South Florida range from October 21 in LaBelle to November 17 in Miami Beach. This breakdown was issued by the National Weather Service in Miami on Saturday — the first day of autumn. Below is similar data for East-Central Florida from the NWS in Melbourne. (Image credits: NWS-Miami/ NWS-Melbourne)




Tropical Storm Kirk spun up in the eastern Atlantic mid-day Saturday with winds of 40 mph. Once again, forecasters predicted Kirk would start to lose some of its punch as it nears the Caribbean later next week. (Image credit: NHC)

Earlier on Saturday, the 11th tropical depression of the 2018 hurricane season formed late Friday night, but forecasters said it would be short-lived.

In fact, the National Hurricane Center said TD 11 — about 500 miles east of the Lesser Antilles on Saturday — would fizzle out before reaching the islands. No watches or warnings were posted.

“Strong westerly shear is expected to persist for several days, which at the very least will prevent the depression from getting any better organized,” forecaster Robbie Berg said.

The official forecast called for dissipation by Sunday.

Three other systems in the Atlantic were also being monitored by the NHC, including 99L south of the Cabo Verde Islands in the far eastern Atlantic. That disturbance was given an 80 percent chance of becoming the next depression or tropical storm by mid-week, when it should be approaching the Lesser Antilles.

ANSWERS IN THE ARCTIC: Forecasting the tracks and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes can be improved by analyzing Arctic weather data, Japanese scientists have discovered.

The researchers looked at three tropical cyclones that occurred in the North Atlantic and North Pacific in 2016. They gathered data from the Arctic using weather balloons and land-based weather stations. The additional information proved to be beneficial to determining both tracks and intensity of the storms.

“Now, stakeholders and decision-makers can start to consider the future Arctic observing network to reduce the socio-economical risks associated with extreme weather events,” said co-author Jun Inoue, an associate professor at the National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR) in Japan. “Our study contributes to providing such an opportunity.”

The work is continuing this year, with 3,000 atmospheric measurements taken by weather balloons from July through September. It’s part of a project called the Year of Polar Prediction (YOPP).

“Many meteorological centers will evaluate their impact on the atmospheric circulation in the Northern Hemisphere,” Inoue said. “Understanding the predictability of the atmosphere, ocean, and sea ice will progress with advances in the Arctic observing network and numerical model development.”

The study was published in the August 14 issue of Scientific Reports.


RAINFALL REPORT: An upper-level low sliding across the Florida peninsula from the Bahamas on Friday brought some significant rainfall to the state, but some areas were skunked.

Naples measured 2.33 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service in Miami. Miami checked in with 0.55 inches.

Tampa reported 1.37 inches; Key West, 0.73 inches; Fort Myers, 0.42; and Jacksonville, 0.73.

An observer for CoCoRaHS on the West Coast reported an impressive 2.67 inches in the Sarasota area.

And on the East Coast, an observer in the New Smyrna Beach area in Volusia County reported 2.78 inches.

On the other hand, Fort Lauderdale was dry and West Palm Beach, along with Jacksonville, squeezed out just 0.01 of an inch. Melbourne recorded a trace of precipitation and Gainesville reported no rain — with another steamy high of 93.

51 mph wind, heavy rain slaps Jacksonville; a look back at TS Fay

TS Fay

This is the 10th anniversary of arrival in Florida of Tropical Storm Fay, a wild and wet storm that ping-ponged around the Florida peninsula August 18-23, 2008 and brought  massive flooding to Florida’s East-Central Cost. Brevard County was walloped with up to 25 inches of rain as Fay nearly stalled out just off the coast. The storm initially made landfall in South West Florida, followed by another landfall near Daytona Beach. That caused more flash flooding and tornadoes.  Fay was the only storm in Florida history to make landfall four different times — starting with the Keys on August 18.  (Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

STORMY SATURDAY: Jacksonville was hammered by strong storms on Saturday, with 1.86 inches of rain falling along with a wind gust of 51 mph — a record strong gust for the date.

It beat the previous record wind gust of 45 mph set on August 18, 2014.

Saturday was also the wettest day of the month in Jacksonville.

Much lighter amounts were reported in the surrounding areas, some recording about a quarter of an inch. Daytona Beach and Orlando reported no rain at all.

Gainesville measured 0.65 inches.


BUBBLE BUBBLE SOIL AND TROUBLE: Permafrost beneath Arctic lakes has begun to melt rapidly, threatening to become a major new source of greenhouse gases that will kick global warming into overdrive. Called abrupt thawing, it’s begun taking place under Arctic lakes that form as the permafrost thaws, a NASA study says.

The Arctic stores one of the largest reservoirs of carbon in the world, and when the soil thaws, bacteria goes to work turning the carbon into carbon dioxide and methane, when are then added to stocks in the atmosphere.

“We don’t have to wait 200 or 300 years to get these large releases of permafrost carbon,” said Katey Walter Anthony of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, “Within my lifetime, my children’s lifetime, it should be ramping up. It’s already happening but it’s not happening at a really fast rate right now, but within a few decades, it should peak.”

Walter Anthony led the project that was part of NASA’s Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE), a ten-year program to understand climate change effects on the Arctic.

The trapped carbon is from 2,000 top 43,000 years old. The bubbling up of carbon dioxide and methane through these sources currently makes up just 1 percent of the CO2 problem, with the largest source being fossil fuel emissions.

“But by the middle to end of the century the permafrost-carbon feedback should be about equivalent to the second strongest anthropogenic source of greenhouse gases, which is land use change,” said Walter Anthony.


More than 4 inches of rain has already fallen in August in Florida panhandle

Panhandle rainfall

(Image credit: NWS-Tallahassee) 

North, Central and South Florida have been different weather worlds this week, with cool and wet conditions transitioning into tropical heat as you head down the peninsula.

North Florida was socked again Thursday by heavy rainfall, a part of the same system that snakes up the U.S. East Coast and has triggered flood watches in the Mid-Atlantic and in Georgia and other southeastern states.

National Weather Service forecasters in Miami explained: “A large frontal trough remains draped from the northeastern U.S. extending southward through the northeastern Gulf of Mexico bringing excessive rainfall potential for portions of the east and southeast through next couple of days, but not South Florida.”

South Florida was largely dry, as was the Keys, while Central Florida locations managed to squeeze out a couple hundredths of an inch of rain.

Abnormally warm overnight temperatures have returned to Florida’s East Coast.

But in Tallahassee, the city actually tied a record cool high temperature Thursday with 78, matching the mark set in 1974. At the same time, Tallahassee sloshed through the day with a 1.45-inch rainfall shellacking — the city has allready been hit with 4.39 inches of rain so far this month, and it’s only August 3.

At the other end of the state, Key West picked up right where it left off in its record-breaking July, posting a record warm low of 85. Melbourne tied a record warm low with 78.

Not only is South Florida expected to be skunked in terms of significant rainrfall over the next week, but temperatures are set to rise, from the upper 80s this weekend to the low 90s on the East Coast by the end of next week. Precipitation chances favor the interior and West Coast, the National Weather Service said.

It looks like the Keys may pick up a little rain over the weekend thanks to a tropical wave in the Caribbean, but it may be too far south to benefit the Florida mainland

The tropics remain inactive. The National Hurricane Center sees nothing on the radar over the next five days, and the GFS shows clear sailing through August 18.



Hurricane Maria as it made landfall in  Puerto Rico on September 20. (Image credit: NOAA)

MARIA FATALITIES RECONSIDERED: Researchers at Penn State University say the death toll from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico could be as high as 1,139. The official fatality count was 64.

The researchers came up with the number using official government records and included those who died from secondary effects of the hurricane, which hit the island on September 20, 2017.

The study was published Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“The Caribbean is set to be hit by more weather disasters in the future, based on forecast models, and we don’t want history to repeat itself,” said Alexis Raúl Santos, assistant professor of human development and family studies at Penn State.

“If we have a better idea of the damage that Hurricane Maria actually did, then maybe we can use that experience to inform and reshape protocols, policies and emergency management processes.”