Temps tumble into the 50s in North Florida; Melissa weakening

ECFL forecast

BEACH ALERT: Dangerous conditions with high surf and rip currents cover Florida’s East Coast from Daytona Beach South into Palm Beach and Broward counties, where High Surf Advisories were posted. “Entering the surf is strongly discouraged,” NWS forecasters in Melbourne said. (Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

FALL IN PROGRESS: It was in the mid- to upper-50s in North Florida on Saturday morning, and the low- to mid-60s in Central Florida, as autumn weather finally took hold. At 7 a.m., it was 56 degrees in Lake Butler, north of Gainesville; 55 in Live Oak; and 56 in the Tallahassee area, according to Weather Underground.

It was in the low 60s as far south as Okeechobee County.

Temps were in the low 70s in South Florida and the mid- to upper-70s in southeastern Florida; and there were a few 80-degree readings in the Keys, where a frontal boundary that came through the peninsula on Friday had stalled out.

RAINFALL REPORT: That triggered some decent rain as it came through: Miami International Airport picked up 0.95 of an inch; 0.87 fell in Fort Lauderdale; and 0.85 fell in West Palm Beach.

A few beach front communities reported up to an inch-and-a-half of rain from Palm Beach to Miami Beach, while the Treasure Coast received a few hundredths of an inch. The West Coast, North Florida and the panhandle were dry.

After a dry Saturday statewide, forecasters at the National Weather Service in Miami predicted that the frontal boundary would push back to the north on Sunday and Monday, increasing rain chances in South Florida for early next week.

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TROPICS WATCH: Subtropical Storm Melissa was weakening on Saturday as it began moving off to the northeast. It was forecast to become post-tropical on Sunday.

Two other systems were being watched by the National Hurricane Center, one expected to roll off the coast of Africa on Sunday, and one expected to form in the southern Caribbean. Development chances range from 20-30 percent.

Forecast models show nothing of concern approaching Florida over the next seven to 10 days.

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Daytona Beach smashes rainfall record with 5.57 inches; interior lows in mid-60s by the weekend

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DROUGHT UPDATE: Extreme Drought (D3) spread into the Florida panhandle this week, while most of the rest of the panhandle, and North Florida, was in Severe (D2) or Moderate (D1) Drought, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported Thursday. Abnormally Dry conditions remain in most of the North Florida peninsula. Central and South Florida received significant rain this week, which should help keep drought conditions at bay for the next couple of weeks or so. (Image credit: US. Drought Monitor/ National Drought Mitigation Center)

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COOLING TREND UPDATE: Yes, we are getting to that time of the year when we sometimes get a meaningful cold front that actually delivers a breath or two of cool (OK, coo-ish) air. This weekend, after high pressure shoves this wet disturbance over the Florida peninsula to the south, a hint of autumn may make an appearance.

“Temperatures will also be enjoyable through the weekend, with low temperatures dropping into mid-60s across the northwestern interior and the mid-70s across the east coast metro areas,” the National Weather Service in Miami said. “Daytime temperatures will range from the mid 80s across the east coast to around 90 across the interior sections.”

At the end of next week, the GFS is suggesting that a stronger cold front could impact the state, with lows from the low-50s in the panhandle to the low-60s in interior areas of the peninsula.

RAINFALL REPORT: Parts of Florida’s East Coast were hammered with more than 5 inches of rain once again on Wednesday. Daytona Beach reported a record rainfall for the date of 5.57 inches, breaking the previous record of 1.73 inches set back in 1993.

Daytona Beach has had 9.02 inches from Monday through Wednesday.

Unofficial reports of 3 inches or more popped up on CoCoRaHS from East-Central Florida to South Florida, with the heaviest amounts limited to the barrier islands.

West Palm Beach reported 1.78 inches officially at Palm Beach International Airport, with more than 2 inches reported by CoCoRaHS observers elsewhere in Palm Beach County. The county was under a Flood Advisory on Wednesday night from Lantana to Palm Beach and west to Wellington and Loxahatcheee as heavy rain slowed to a crawl over the area.

On the Treasure Coast, Vero Beach, picked up another 0.44 inches on Wednesday, bringing the two-day total there to 1.55 inches.

MISSING OUT: Tallahassee has had just 0.03 of an inch of rain so far this month and is already looking at a rainfall deficit of 1.03 inches. Tallahassee had the driest September in its recorded history.

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TROPICS WATCH: Chances for tropical or subtropical development in the North Atlantic continue to diminish, according to the National Hurricane Center. One system was dropped from the map Thursday morning, and another — a disturbance due north of Bermuda — had a near zero chance of development. Another system meandering off the U.S. East Coast had a 20 percent chance of development, but NHC forecasters said conditions would become more unfavorable by the weekend.

Forecast models are still hinting at development in the southern Caribbean, but whatever might form seems destined to run into Central America before posing a threat to the Greater Antilles or the U.S.

RECORD WATCH: Miami tied a record high Wednesday with 91, matching the mark set in 2012.

All-time October heat record for Tallahassee; a zigzagging hurricane that hit the Keys

Hurricane Inez

HURRICANE HISTORY: Here’s a reminder that hurricanes can take some odd-ball tracks with twists and turns. Fifty-three years ago on Friday, Hurricane Inez plowed across the Florida Keys after a destructive romp through the Greater Antilles. Inez came up from the Caribbean and followed the southern coast of Cuba until it made a hard right turn to the north-northeast into the northwestern Bahamas. After that it stalled, then made another turn toward the west-southwest and walloped the Keys with gusts of up to 110 mph. At its peak, Inez was a strong Category 4 hurricane with winds of 150 mph. (Image credit: NWS-Key West)

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RELENTLESS: The high in Tallahassee on Thursday reached a scorching 97 degrees — the warmest temperature ever recorded in the city in October.

What was the previous record high for October? That was set the day before on Wednesday, 96 degrees. The long-standing all-time October record of 95 — set in 1941 — was tied on October 1.

To the west just off I-10, Crestview reached 101 degrees.

Down the coast, Naples tied a record high Thursday with 94. That was set in 1990.

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7 day rainfall
The seven-day rainfall forecast shows heaviest precip in South Florida and the Keys. (Image credit: NOAA/ WPC)

WET WEEK? An approaching front resulting in southwest winds next week could bring heavy rain to South Florida, the National Weather Service says.

“A conditional risk for flooding could eventually materialize in the Monday night to Wednesday time frame across South Florida,” forecasters said in their Friday discussion in Miami.

In Central Florida, rain chances remain at around 20-30 percent through Tuesday before jumping to 50 percent on Wednesday and Thursday.

Tampa’s rain chances range from 50-60 percent all of next week.

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HERE’S A COOL ULTRA-LONG-RANGE FORECAST: It could turn out to be in weather fantasy-land, but the GFS is showing a cold front that means business sliding down the entire Florida peninsula around Friday, October 18, pushing temperatures into the high 40s in the western panhandle and below 60 as far south as Orlando.

Under this scenario, temperatures the next morning, on Saturday October 19 would dip into the low- to mid-60s in parts of South Florida, with highs topping out in the 70s around Lake Okeechobee.

Nothing to hang your hat on at this point, but a reminder that, yes, Virginia, autumn really does come to Florida — you just gotta have some patience. It looks a little different from northern climates but is nonetheless spectacular.

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NWS Melbourne anniversary

METEOROLOGICAL BLAST FROM THE PAST: The National Weather Service office in Melbourne is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its opening this month. Things started out small and quiet but have gotten busy! (Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

North Florida drought conditions recede; new GFS gets high marks

Panhandle cold front

WARM, BUT DRY: The cold front that’s expected to make its way down the Florida peninsula, and stall out in Central Florida, was just moving into the Florida panhandle on Thursday morning. Not much cooler weather is expected after the cold front moves through, but drier air will arrive in areas to the north of the front. In Dothan, Alabama northwest of Tallahassee, humidity levels are forecast by Weather Underground to be as low as 30 percent on Thursday. But National Weather Service forecasters in Tallahassee added: “Even though it’s a cold front… highs will actually be warmer tomorrow than the last few days!” (Image credit: NWS-Tallahassee)

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DWINDLING DROUGHT: Drought conditions in Florida receded slightly this week and are now confined mostly to the northern tier of counties, from Nassau County in the northeast west into the Central Panhandle. Several counties in the Big Bend area swapped Moderate Drought for Abnormally Dry conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

There were actually few areas of drought in the U.S. this week. Outside of North Florida and coastal areas of Georgia up through North Carolina, the only areas on Thursday’s map were in extreme northern North Dakota; western New Mexico; and parts of Washington and the Northwest.

California is clear of drought, although the southwestern corner near San Diego is Abnormally Dry.

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‘MODEL-CANES’ ON THE WAY OUT? NOAA officials have high hopes for the new and improved GFS forecasting model they began using Wednesday, the Finite-Volume Cubed-Sphere, or FV3. Will their confidence be justified?

Truth be told, the European model (ECMWF) always had a little more respect than the GFS in some forecasting circles — although the GFS performed well on occasion — but NOAA officials are hoping the upgrade changes all of that.

“The significant enhancements to the GFS, along with creating NOAA’s new Earth Prediction Innovation Center, are positioning the U.S. to reclaim international leadership in the global earth-system modeling community,” Neil Jacobs, acting NOAA administrator, said in an agency news release posted after a morning press conference.

An important question for people in Florida, Texas and the southeast coast is how the new model will fare during hurricane season. That wasn’t specifically addressed in the NOAA news release, but Matt Gray, a meteorologist for NBC2 based in Fort Myers, posted a blog on the topic Wednesday night.

“How will the new FV3 GFS do when the next hurricane comes? NOAA has tested it using data from storms over the past few seasons, so we have a pretty good idea,” he said.

The new FV3 will be better than the old GFS at forecasting intensity, he said. The old model tended to over-sell intensity, or keep storms stronger longer.

“The new GFS did a lot better with how intense Hurricane Florence was when it made landfall in North Carolina last year,” Gray said. “It’s just one of many examples where the new model did a lot better with storm strength.”

An attendant advantage to the new model is that since it’s better at forecasting strength, the FV3 may be better at avoiding what some weather watchers call “ghost storms,” or what Gray calls “model-canes.” These are tropical storms or hurricanes that pop up on model runs more than 10 days in advance, with no support from other models. The next day they may be dropped.

“Since the new GFS looks like it will be better at not strengthening tropical systems too much, that may also keep these ‘fake storms’ from showing up at all.”

Track accuracy looks about the same as the old GFS, Gray said.

Hot times in Sarasota; rainfall reports needed in the Keys

CoCoRaHS Keys

KEYS COURTS COCORAHS OBSERVERS: The National Weather Service in Key West noted Wednesday that the citizen observation network turns 21 years old this month. It started in June, 1998 in Fort Collins, Colorado. You can find rainfall observations pretty much anywhere in the country, but they are scarce in the Florida Keys and Monroe County. The NWS Key West is soliciting people to sign up. “We could use your observations!” the office said Wednesday in a Facebook post. You can do so at http://www.cocorahs.org. (Image credit: NWS-Key West)

Tuesday Florida rainfall reports from CoCoRaHS: Orange County, south of Winter Garden, 2.5 inches; western Jefferson County near Waukeena, 2.28 inches; Suwanee County near Live Oak, 2 inches; northeastern Nassau County, 1.70 inches; and western Putnam County, 1.67 inches.

Parts of Hillsborough County picked up around a half-inch, while totals were light in South Florida, except an observer west of Boynton Beach in Palm Beach County reported 0.78 of an inch.

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WHAT KIND OF FRONT WAS THAT? The National Weather Service in Miami said upper level troughing over the southeastern U.S., “along with its corresponding surface low, will depart toward the northeast through the latter portion of the week. In the wake of this departure, an attendant cold front will begin sliding down the Florida peninsula before stalling across Central Florida.”

This time of the year, a front is a cold front pretty much in name only. Thursday night’s forecast low in Gainesville, for example, is 69 … but Friday’s forecast high is 90. Thursday night’s low in Lake City, meanwhile, is expected to tumble all the way down to 66 degrees. Come to think of it, that sounds pretty nice.

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TROPICS WATCH: Wednesday morning’s run of the GFS shows a storm developing in the Caribbean June 28 and moving toward Belize or the Yucatan Peninsula. The GFS FV3, which becomes operational for NOAA this week, does not concur. The European model (ECMWF) is clear for the next 10 days and even the Canadian forecasting model (CMC) shows clear sailing through June 22.

The National Hurricane Center says no storm formation is expected through at least Monday.

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RECORD REPORT: Marathon had the state’s high temperature in Tuesday’s National Weather Service roundup with 96 — and yes, that was another record high for the date. Marathon’s low of 84 was also a record warm low.

The low in Sarasota was 80, which busted the old record warm low for June 11 of 79 set in 2007.

More heavy rain, possible storms, target Florida peninsula

Much of the Florida peninsula was hammered by heavy rainfall Monday, from the Ocala area in North-Central Florida to the Tampa area, east to the Treasure Coast and down into Palm Beach.

Reports of up to 2 inches were common around Tampa, especially points north. The National Weather Service reported 1.92 inches in Brooksville.

On the East Coast, parts of Central Palm Beach County picked up close to 3 inches, according to observers for the CoCoRaHS network.

More heavy rain — and possibly some severe storms as well — were in the forecast for the peninsula as a cold front slides south and another system moves in from the Gulf of Mexico.

Here’s what it looks like:

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Tuesday morning’s Gulf of Mexico satellite snapshot showed heavy rain developing off the Florida coast. (Image credit: NOAA)

The National Weather Service in Miami warned of possible severe weather:

Storm risk

(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

And here’s the big picture from NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center:

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Much of the eastern side of the Florida peninsula was at “Marginal” — that’s Level 2 in Storm Prediction Center lingo — risk for severe weather, including heavy rain, gusty winds and possible hail. (Image credit: NOAA/ SPC)

South Florida rain totals so far this month are beginning to echo the wet and wild May of 2018, when Miami measured an incredible 16.59 inches of rain — more than 11 inches over normal.

As we near the mid-point in May this year, West Palm Beach has racked up 5.26 inches of rain, 4.01 above average for the month. Miami has received 4.58 inches of rain, 3 above average, and Fort Lauderdale is 2.14 inches above normal at 3.36 inches. Naples reports 4.01 inches through Monday, 2.96 inches on the plus side.

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RECORD WATCH: Miami set a record high on Monday with 94 degrees, breaking the old record of 93 set just two years ago in 2017. Fort Lauderdale reported a record warm low of 79, beating the previous record of 77 set in 2015.

In the Keys, Marathon topped out at 95, which broke a 25-year-old record high for May 13. The previous record for the date was 92, set in 1994. In addition, the low at Marathon was 80, which tied a record warm low for May 13, originally set in 2017.

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Liverpool palm

TROPICAL PARADISE?  I spent last week in the UK, with a few days in Liverpool, on England’s northwest coast. The weather was blustery, with temperatures in the 40s and of-and-on light rain. Quite a dreary scene, but I happened upon this rather healthy-looking palm tree in a downtown courtyard. There are a few palms struggling throughout this part of the UK, and in London, with more, I presume, on the southern coast. They can thank the Gulf Stream for their relatively mild climate, despite the fact that Liverpool is at 53.4 degrees north and London is at 51.5 degrees north. (Image credit: John Nelander)

Friday rains hammered Nature Coast, but most of Florida peninsula was dry

NFL humidity levels

Humidity levels on Saturday could sink as low as the upper teens in North Florida, according to the National Weather Service. (Image credit: NWS-Jacksonville)

Friday’s frontal passage was a non-event in Florida, despite NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center having put most of the peninsula at Level 1 risk for severe weather.

High winds did cause some damage in the Tallahassee area, with a wind gust of 69 mph reported and tree limbs blocking some roads.

The only tornado reports from the system were in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Nice, of course, to side-step the severe weather. But parts of South Florida have been building up rainfall deficits again, even though overall the state is in pretty good shape with April precipitation.

Fort Lauderdale, which remained high and dry Friday, now has a 1.49-inch deficit, and West Palm Beach, which also posted precipitation goose eggs, now has a 1.84-inch deficit. That’s with three days left to go in the month — and no rain in sight. Naples has a 1.28-inch deficit.

Miami and Key West have slight rainfall surpluses, as does Fort Pierce.

In East-Central Florida, Daytona Beach nears the end of April with a hefty 1.74 inch surplus, although Orlando has a 0.92 of an inch shortfall.

Tampa had 0.17 of an inch of rain Friday and has a 0.83 of an inch surplus. Brooksville has a 1.14 inch surplus.

Jacksonville and Gainesville have surpluses; Gainesville reported 0.43 of an inch of rain Friday.

April rainfall surpluses surpluses are the rule in panhandle as well.

According to the CoCoRaHS observation network, Florida’s heaviest rainfall on Friday was focused on the Nature Coast, with one observer in Citrus County, near Crystal River, reporting 1.55 inches.

A dry week is on the way with another weather system possible by Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

North-Central Florida temperatures sank as low as the low 50s on Saturday morning with dew points in the low 50s as well. As the day wears on, humidity levels should plunge with all the dry air around, particularly in inland locations.

RECORD WATCH: In the Keys, Marathon’s high temperature Friday was a steamy 94 degrees, which tied a record high for April 26. The record was originally set in 2015.