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.
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New NOAA forecast calls for warm, wet March in Florida

March forecast

(Image credits: NOAA/ CPC)

NOAA’s spring forecast was issued Thursday, calling for above normal temperatures in Florida and the eastern third of the U.S., and above normal rainfall in March, April and May.

Forecasters said chances of warmer-than-normal temperatures in East were “rather modest,” and added that the El Niño in place in the tropical Pacific contributed to the forecast of wetter than usual conditions in Florida and other southern states “to a small extent.” The current El Niño is forecast to be weak.

In Florida, chances of a warm and relatively wet March were pegged at greater than 50 percent, according to the Climate Prediction Center.

Interestingly, Thursday’s run of the GFS model is predicting some cooler temperatures to start off the new month in Florida, with some lows in the 40s popping up around parts of the central peninsula the week of March 3.

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RECORD REDUX: NOAA scientists continually point out that weather is different than climate. Weather incorporates day-to-day changes in temperature and precipitation, whereas climate is the slow evolution of average rain and temperature measurements over years or decades.

“Here’s one way to visualize it,” the agency says on its website on the topic. “Weather tells you what to wear each day. Climate tells you what types of clothes to have in your closet.”

“As global climate changes, weather patterns are changing as well. While it’s impossible to say whether a particular day’s weather was affected by climate change, it is possible to predict how patterns might change.”

So, is this month’s Florida heat wave an indication of climate change? Or is it just a part of routine fluctuations in the weather?

We can leave it to the experts to hash out, but here’s an interesting note: Most of Wednesday’s record warm temperatures beat or matched records that were set exactly one year ago — on the same date in 2018.

To wit:

Fort Lauderdale’s low temperature Wednesday was 76, which beat the previous record of 75 set on February 20, 2018.

West Palm Beach’s low of 76 beat the record of 75 set on the same date in 2018.

Key West tied a record warm low of 76, set on the same date in 2018.

Marathon’s low of 77 beat the record of 74 last set in 2018. It was also set in 1961, 1984, 1989, 1990, 1997 and 2014. The high of 86 in Marathon beat the old record of 85 set in 1992. This was the ninth warm temperature record set this month in Marathon.

Sanford scored a record high with 86 — a degree warmer than the record set on the same date in 2018.

In North Florida, Gainesville’s high of 86 beat the old record of 85 set in 2018.

Jacksonville set a record high dew point for the date — a very tropical 70 degrees. That broke the old dew point temperature of 69 set a year ago in 2018.

Orlando also tied a record warm minimum Wednesday with 69, but that tied a record set 58 years ago in 1961.

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RAINFALL TO THE RESCUE: Moderate Drought conditions on Florida’s East Coast have been wiped away by moderate to heavy rainfall over the last couple of weeks. The U.S. Drought Monitor left Abnormally Dry conditions in place from Brevard County south to coastal South Florida, including Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade.

But the Moderate Drought from Brevard south into Martin County was changed to Abnormally Dry in the latest analysis released Thursday.

“Coastal southern Florida’s small area of abnormal dryness (D0) and moderate drought (D1) received additional rain, resulting in some further trimming of coverage,” said Brad Rippey, who wrote Thursday’s analysis for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “In fact, the elimination of Florida’s D1 leaves no drought east of the Mississippi River.

“Year-to-date rainfall through February 19 was above normal in Florida locations such as Vero Beach (5.06 inches, or 119% of normal) and Fort Pierce (4.89 inches, or 112%). Miami’s year-to-date rainfall, at 3.34 inches (106%), was also slightly above normal.”

Florida drought continues to diminish, more rain on the way for East Coast

Designated drought areas continued to shrink in Florida this week after another round of weekend rain on the East Coast.

The U.S. Drought Monitor eliminated areas of Moderate Drought for Palm Beach County, and interior areas of South Florida, from Palm Beach south to Miami-Dade and Mainland Monroe were removed from the Abnormally Dry category.

Northeastern Martin County up to Brevard County remained in Moderate Drought.

Areas west of Lake Okeechobee are no longer designated as Abnormally Dry, and all drought designations were removed from Collier and Lee counties.

“Only a small strip along the coast received significant precipitation, but in the wake of last week’s rain, additional improvements were introduce,” said NOAA’s Richard Tinker. “Subnormal groundwater and stream flows continued in the remaining areas depicted on the Drought Monitor.”

It’s interesting to note that these are the only drought designation in the U.S. east of the Mississippi River.

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WET WEEKEND? Parts of Florida’s East Coast could see a blustery Saturday due to a cold front forecast to stall over Central Florida, according to NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center.

The WPC graphical shows the heaviest rain — up to a half-inch — falling in the Vero Beach-Melbourne areas, with lighter amounts falling in southeastern Florida. Winds could gust up to 30 mph on Saturday, forecasters said.

The National Weather Service in Miami, in a “high-end” analysis of rainfall chances, said there is a 10 percent probability that South Florida’s East Coast could see rainfall totals near half an inch.

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Worldwide rising temps

(Image credit: NASA)

TREND IS NOT OUR FRIEND: The past five years collectively were the warmest on record worldwide, NASA and NOAA said in a post on a NASA website Wednesday. The agency announced that independent analyses by both agencies concluded that 2018 was the fourth warmest on since at least 1880, when these types of records began.

“2018 is yet again an extremely warm year on top of a long-term global warming trend,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

Average global temps have risen 2 degrees (F) in the last 138 years, and Schmidt and NASA says the warming trend is “driven in large part by increased emissions into the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases caused by human activities.”

The speed of the warming varies from region to region, with the Arctic showing the most evidence of warming resulting in a steady loss of sea ice.

“In addition, mass loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets continued to contribute to sea level rise. Increasing temperatures can also contribute to longer fire seasons and some extreme weather events,” NASA said in the Wednesday release.

“The impacts of long-term global warming are already being felt — in coastal flooding, heat waves, intense precipitation and ecosystem change,” Schmidt said.

The warmest year on record was 2016, partly as a result of a strong El Niño.

Stalled cold front forecast to bring weekend rain

WCFL temps

Chamber of Commerce weather is in the forecast for most of the Florida peninsula through the end of the week before a cold front slides in on Saturday. (Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

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A cold front forecast to stall over Central Florida this weekend could spark the next round of rain in the state, but don’t expect the kind of downpours Florida saw at the end of January.

The National Weather Service says showers could reach as far south as northern Palm Beach County, but forecasters expect only around a tenth of an inch, although rain chances do increase to 30 percent for northern areas of South Florida. The chance of more significant rainfall increases as you head up into the Treasure Coast.

Precipitation chances in Vero Beach, for example, are at 40 percent on Saturday, but only 20 percent in the Tampa area.

The front is forecast to shift back to the north early next week as a warm front, delivering more toasty temps to Central and South Florida. Even North Florida will be back up near 80 early next week, the National Weather Service says.

Normal rainfall is in the forecast for Central and South Florida through the middle of the month, according to the Climate Prediction Center. That’s the good news. The bad news is that February is normally one of the driest months in Florida.

Luckily, many cities have built up hefty surpluses thanks to the wet first weekend of the month.

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SMOG SCIENCE: A warming climate increases air pollution, scientists at the University of California, Riverside, have concluded.

Concentrations of aerosols — tiny particles or liquid droplets suspended in the air — are on the increase because of differences in the rate of warming over the oceans and land, researchers said. The problem is that land temperatures are rising faster than ocean temperatures, which results in drier conditions and a climate less able to wash out the particles.

The increase in aerosols cause smog and other kinds of air pollution and that can cause health problems in people and animals.

“A robust response to an increase in greenhouse gases is that the land is going to warm faster than the ocean. This enhanced land warming is also associated with increased continental aridity,” says Robert Allen, an associate professor of earth sciences at UC Riverside and an author of the study.

The study assumes that people won’t take steps to reduce pollutants in other ways, Allen said, so the study’s results represent “an upper bound” of the problem.

“The question is what level of air quality are we going to accept,” Allen said. “Even though California has some of the strictest environmental laws in the country we still have relatively poor air quality, and it’s much worse in many countries.”

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.

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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.”

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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)

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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.