Marathon, West Palm Beach hit record highs

RECORD WATCH: With southwest winds picking up Sunday afternoon, the temperature in West Palm Beach shot up to 84 degrees — tying a record high for the date. The record was originally set in 1946.

In the Keys, Marathon set a record with 85, beating the previous record for the date of 84, set in 2008.

Several inland locations reached the mid-80s, and Florida had the nation’s high temperature of 86 in Oasis, Florida, according to the National Weather Service.


A cold snap is in the forecast for next week across the entire eastern U.S., including Florida. (Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

The second half of January is often the coldest part of the winter, and it appears that the time period this year will live up to expectations.

People who live in the eastern U.S. may not be particularly happy with the weather pattern starting next week, as the GFS forecast model shows temperatures in the single digits as far south as Missouri and then a week later, as the month winds down, temperatures well below zero in Iowa and Missouri.

Some 30-degree weather may be coming to Central Florida and interior areas, but the forecast is too far out for specifics.

Here’s the money quote from the National Weather Service Monday morning: “Temperatures tumble by early next week as strong high pressure builds over the eastern [U.S.]. This pattern may bring some of the coldest air of the season to our area by early to mid next week. Confidence is somewhat low at this point (since we`re so far out in the extended period), but the signal is one to watch.

“Those with outdoor and/or agricultural interests will want to keep up with the forecast.”

The other problem is same-old-same-old, since most of the rain associated with these fronts looks to be focused on North Florida and the panhandle. Rain chances next weekend are at 50 percent in South Florida, but NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center is indicating perhaps a tenth to a quarter of an inch in South Florida, and we’d be happy to get that.

There were a few showers over the weekend along the southeast coast, but Naples is still looking for its first measurable rainfall of the month — and we’re almost in mid-January.


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)

Heat index readings in 90s bake Florida voters on Election Day

voting weather

HOT ELECTION ISSUE: Voters face unusually warm temperatures for the mid-terms on Tuesday with the heat index all the way up into the mid-90s in the Keys. “Be sure to stay hydrated if you find yourself outside for an extended period of time!” forecasters in Key West said. (Image credit: NWS-Key West)

TOASTY TEMPS CONTINUE: It was 89 degrees in Punta Gorda and Pembroke Pines on Monday, 88 in Fort Myers and Naples, and 87 in Fort Lauderdale, Key West, Marathon and Pompano Beach.

Unofficially, a few 90-plus readings showed up in western Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Hendry counties. A National Park Service weather station in the Big Cypress National Preserve reported a high of 93.

“Unseasonably warm temperatures continue through the rest of the work week, but some relief is coming this weekend,” National Weather Service forecasters in Tampa said. Saturday through Monday, highs should be in the low 80s with lows in the mid-60s. Ditto for Orlando.

It looks like the cold front won’t make it to South Florida, though. It may stall over the area on Sunday, but temperatures will remain on the warm side with a better chance of a few showers, forecasters said.

RECORD WATCH: The low in Sanford Monday was 72, tying a record warm low for the date set in 2015.

Tampa area temps

(Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)


OCEANIC OVERLOAD: The Earth’s oceans have been absorbing a lot more heat than previously thought. The amount of heat measured in a new study was 60 percent higher per year than the last assessment in 2014, a new study by the Princeton Environmental Institute at Princeton University says.

“Imagine if the ocean was only 30 feet deep,” said Laure Resplandy, an assistant professor of geosciences. “Our data show that it would have warmed by 6.5 degrees Celsius [11.7 degrees Fahrenheit] every decade since 1991. In comparison, the estimate of the last IPCC assessment report would correspond to a warming of only 4 degrees Celsius [7.2 degrees Fahrenheit] every decade.”

Climate scientists say a global temperature rise of 3.6 degrees F will unleash “widespread and dangerous consequences,” according to Princeton. Because the oceans are holding so much more heat than anyone thought, the researchers said greenhouse gases need to be reduced by 25 percent more than previous estimates in order remain beneath that threshold.

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.”

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.


Key West on pace for hottest July in 146 years of record keeping

Key West July record

(Image credit: NWS-Key West)

Through Friday, Key West was on pace for its hottest July since record keeping began on the island 146 years ago in 1872.

The overall temperature — taking into account the average high and low — was 87 degrees, which would edge out the previous July record month of 2007 at 86.8 degrees. You have to go back to 1881 and 1967 to get to the third place years at 86.7.

However, there are still several days to go before the end of the month, so it’s not a done deal. As of Sunday, the average Key West temperature had slipped to 86.9 as the low temperature bottomed out at 79 degrees Saturday — one of only seven days this month to have a sub-80-degree low.

So far this month, Key West has had 12 days with record highs or record warm lows.

Rain tends to cool temperatures in Florida — there’s not much else around that will do it unless somebody throws a snow cone on the official National Weather Service thermometer — and the city has had two straight days of rain. The forecast through Tuesday is for mostly cloudy skies with a 40-50 percent chance of rain, so July’s overall temperature may retreat a bit.

But it’s almost certain to end up in the top five, no small feat with 146 years of records on the books.


HEAT CHECK: Are the heat waves that have rocked the northern hemisphere this summer from Japan to the northern Europe and the Arctic the “new normal” as a result of global warming? The UK’s Met Office discussed the issue in a Friday blog written by professors Stephen Belcher and Brian Hoskins.

The “atmospheric patterns leading to the UK heat wave do occur in the natural cycles in the weather, but they have been unusually persistent” this year, they note.

“The natural cycles of weather mean that we shouldn’t expect heatwaves like this to happen every year but, when we do experience them, the warmer world means that there is an increased risk of even higher temperatures.”

Check out the post for an interesting explanation of what’s been happening around the world this summer.

Finally: All quiet on the tropical front; Another record temp in Key West


(Image credit: NHC)

The National Hurricane Center’s Tropical Outlook map is clear for the first time since July 2. Nature is apparently going on summer break after three named storms. And if the Colorado State University forecast pans out, we may only have eight more to go before the season ends on November 30.

Of course that’s a big “if.”

As of Monday there were no active tropical storms in the Western Hemisphere, although the NHC was tracking a couple of likely candidates in the northeastern Pacific, including Invest 99EP. It had an 80 percent chance of development as it heads west into the Central Pacific. Forecast models show it going south of Hawaii.

Another system to the east of 99EP had a 30 percent chance of development.

Based on averages from 1966-2009, the fourth named storms doesn’t form in the Atlantic until August 23, so we’re actually ahead of the game.

RECORD WATCH: Key West tied another record warm minimum temperature Sunday with 84 degrees, matching the mark for the date set in 2009. It was the sixth warm temperature record set or tied this month in Key West.


IRMA AND FLORIDA’S ALGAE CRISIS: The toxic algae bloom in Lake Okeechobee, which has spread to both coasts via the St. Lucie River and the Caloosahatchee River, is as bad as the summer of 2016 — and may end up eclipsing that event.

Although the effects on tourism, business, and health have been front and center in media reports, I haven’t seen much on the science behind the blue-green algae bloom. A prime culprit is agricultural runoff of nutrients high nitrogen and phosphorus from farming and cattle ranching in Central Florida and South Florida.

But that’s been going on for almost 100 years. Why is it so bad this summer? There’s this explanation from Sea Grant Florida, an organization affiliated with the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida. It tapes into the expertise of 800 coastal and ocean scientists.

In a July 6 analysis, Sea Grant Director Karl Havens says last September’s Hurricane Irma is partly to blame for the magnitude of this summer’s algae explosion.

“The storm brought heavy rainfall over the watersheds located north of the lake and around the two estuaries. Each of these three watersheds contain sources of high nitrogen and phosphorus levels from past and present agricultural activities and leaking septic systems. One heavy rainfall can flush these bloom-fueling nutrients into the lake and estuaries.

“And, that’s exactly what happened. This rainfall, combined with extremely hot summer days and plenty of sunshine completed the recipe for today’s massive blooms.”

Havens warns that a warming climate threatens to make algae blooms a worldwide problem, and that they may become “more intense and more toxic.”

“It will be easier to control blooms by curtailing nutrient inputs now than it will be in a warmer future,” he says.