Umbrella alert: Front set to deliver first precip of new year

(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

Hooray! The first measurable rainfall of 2021 is headed into South Florida by mid-week, the National Weather Service says.

HOW DRY WE WERE: Through Monday, none of the four major observation sites in South Florida — Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Naples — have had any measurable rain.

In Miami, you have to go back to December 28 to find 0.01 of an inch of precipitation; 0.09 of an inch fell on Christmas Eve before the major cold front crashed South Florida’s holiday party.

Even so, Miami ended December with just 1.60 inches in the bucket, a monthly rainfall shortage of nearly half an inch.

Wednesday’s rain chances increase to around 50 percent by Wednesday, with a cold front moving into the area and then washing out.

“There will not be a noticeable difference in cooler temperatures behind this frontal passage,” forecasters in Miami said in their Tuesday morning forecast discussion.

Rainfall totals of around a half-inch are expected through the end of the week. (Image credit: NWS-Miami)

And . . . there’s this from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center: Florida may see a return to above normal temperatures at the end of the month. This is supported by the GFS forecast model, which suggests highs in the 80s for at least several days as January enters its final week.

(Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

Sunday wind chills in 40s for South Florida; new hurricane forecasting tool shot down

ANOTHER WINTRY WEEKEND — by Florida standards, that is. The coldest temps will be Sunday morning, when a light freeze is predicted for North Florida and wind chills in the 40s all the way down into South Florida. (Image credits: NWS-Miami, top; NWS-Jacksonville, below)


HURRICANE FORECASTING SETBACK: Funding for a new type of radar called airborne phased-array radar, or APAR, which could have helped spot hurricanes about to rapidly intensify, was scrapped by the National Science Foundation, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

The $70 million project failed to win approval because of “flaws” in the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) proposal, the Post said. NOAA had been expected to partner with NCAR for the building of the of radar, built into hurricane hunter aircraft that investigate storms.

But NOAA officials said the proposal failed to justify the $70 million cost over five years.

The newspaper said NCAR director Everette Joseph — who is a “leading candidate” to head NOAA under the upcoming Biden Administration — plans to resubmit the proposal.

“Although NOAA can still make use of the radar development work carried out to date, NCAR’s failure to receive this program funding will, at the very least, delay the progress of what is considered a game-changing technology for storm research, monitoring and forecasting,” writes Jason Samenow of the Post’s Capital Weather Gang.

Data collected by the new radar was expected to be fed into existing computer forecast models, providing a big boost to intensity, as well as track forecasts.

Rapidly intensifying storms have become more common during the hurricane season as oceans warm. Several hurricanes during the blockbuster 2020 hurricane season underwent rapid intensification as they neared land, making them even more dangerous for coastal residents.

Key West record: 122 days with 80-plus degree lows

(Image credit: NOAA)

THURSDAY UPDATE: The next cold front was racing across the Gulf of Mexico toward the Florida peninsula Thursday morning. It was forecast to arrive on the peninsula’s southwest coast around 4 a.m. Friday, dragging cold air behind it. Another chilly weekend will follow, according to the National Weather Service.

Sunday morning will see the coldest temperatures. Forecast lows: Miami, 54; West Palm Beach and Naples, 48; Orlando, 40; Tampa, 43; Gainesville, 33 (with widespread frost); Jacksonville, 36 (with areas of frost); Lake City, 32 (widespread frost); and Tallahassee, 33 (ditto).

If it’s any consolation, and I think it is, the same storm system is forecast to dump snow Friday in eastern Tennessee, northern Georgia and into the Carolinas and Virginia. So Florida remains a desired destination, with its relatively palatable weather this weekend.


2020 weather highlights in the Florida Keys. (Image credit: NWS-Key West)

KEYS YEAR IN REVIEW: 2020 was the second-warmest year on record in Key West and the fourth-warmest in Marathon, the National Weather Service said this week.

“Helping to fuel the warmer year was an abundance of warmer low temperatures,” the Weather Service said in a report, with 103 daily warm overnight temperature records set or tied in Marathon and Key West, where records date back to 1872 (1950 in Marathon).

Monthly warm minimum temperature records were set or tied in Key West in March, April, May, June, and September.

Another notable stat: Key West had 122 days in 2020 in which the low failed to drop below 80 degrees, more than double the annual average of 53 days.

“It was also a wet year. Marathon measured 64.55 inches of rainfall last year, putting it at 18.38 inches above normal and the second wettest year on record.

“Key West measured 52.30 inches of rainfall, 12.47 inches above normal,” putting it in the top 10 percent of wettest years in the island’s 150-year history.

Click here for the full report.

‘Brilliant South Florida winter day’ ahead, forecasters say

Below normal temperatures may hang on through at least mid-month in Florida and the Gulf Coast, according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. (Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

TUESDAY UPDATE: Another cool but pleasant winter morning around the Florida peninsula, with temps definitely on the chilly side in North Florida and the panhandle.

Low temperatures ranged from 63 in Key West and Marathon to 36 in Jacksonville and Tallahassee.

Other apparent lows: West Palm Beach, 49; Miami, 59; Fort Lauderdale, 56; Naples, 50; Orlando, 45; and Tampa, 47.

Highs head into the low 70s in South Florida over the next couple of days, but the next cold front is forecast to keep temperatures in the mid- to upper-60s to start the weekend.

Long-term temperature trends suggest below normal temperatures will hang around the entire state through at least the middle of the month, but longer-term models suggest a bounce back in February to above normal temps.

It will be interesting to see if these seasonably cool temperatures stick around through the end of the month, because back-to-back below normal monthly temperatures have rarely occurred in Florida since at least 2015, when the current trend toward record warmth began. (We haven’t had a consistently cold winter here since 2010-11.)

It was the third-coldest December in Key West, the National Weather Service said Tuesday. (Image credit: NWS-Key West)


ORIGINAL POST: Looks like the Florida peninsula is in for a run of unusually cool — but not necessarily unpleasant — weather through at least the middle of January.

In South Florida, normal January temps feature highs in the mid- to upper-70s and lows in the mid- to upper-50s, but a series of cold fronts may keep temps slightly below that, according to the National Weather Service.

Tuesday’s forecast, for example: “As temperatures warm up through the morning, it should turn into a brilliant South Florida winter day where some sunscreen and sunglasses could come in handy for any outdoor activities.”

You might call it perfect winter weather although on the cool-ish side.

After a cloudy start to the day in Central and South Florida, sunny skies return, the National Weather Service says. A gradual warm-up is in the forecast through the end of the week before another front arrives for the weekend. (Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

2020 was warmest year on record in South Florida cities

(Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

It’s official — 2020 was the hottest year on record around South Florida. Despite a chilly December, annual temperature records were set in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Naples.

In the case of Miami and Naples, last year edged out 2019 as the warmest year on record.

In Central Florida, Leesburg tied 2017 as the warmest year on record.

Note that in some Florida cities, records only go back to the 1940s or 1950s, but in West Palm Beach they date back to 1888, and in Miami to 1895. So these records are nothing to sniff at, especially when you consider that they beat previous annual temperature records set in 2015, 2017 and 2019.

AND THE HEAT GOES ON: Sanford tied a daily record high on Friday with 85, matching the mark set in 1991. Another day of near-record highs were in the forecast for Saturday: Daytona Beach’s record high for January 2 is 82, set in 2006; Saturday’s forecast high is 84.

Record warm lows were set or tied Friday in Jacksonville (66); Daytona Beach (67); Melbourne (71); and Vero Beach (70).

The stalled cold front that’s been soaking North Florida and the panhandle — Apalachicola picked up 1.29 inches of rain Friday and the Tallahassee area was under a Flash Flood Watch — is forecast to get kicked down the Florida peninsula on Sunday night. The National Weather Service said it would lose much of its convective punch as it moves south, but much cooler temperatures are expected to take hold early next week.

So far, we aren’t looking at the kind of cold temps we saw on Christmas weekend, but they’ll feel chilly after highs in the 80s and balmy overnight lows in the upper 60s and 70s.

In South Florida, lows in coastal areas should be in the 50s on Tuesday and Wednesday, with lows in the 40s in the interior.

A warming trend brings temps to more seasonal levels by the end of the week.

2020 set to go out warm and breezy

(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

BREEZY CONDITIONS are setting up on Florida’s East Coast starting today and continuing through the end of the week, according to the National Weather Service. Since the winds will be gusting from the east-northeast, beach goers will encounter rough surf and rip currents from east-central areas all the way down to Miami and into the Keys.

Temperatures will be on the rise over much of the Florida peninsula, with highs getting into the low 80s in South Florida by New Year’s Day . . . .

(Image credit: NWS-Tallahassee)

. . . But then a cold front approaches the panhandle New Year’s Eve and into New Year’s Day. Forecasters expect it to slow down or even stall over North Florida over the weekend, but then a developing low in the Gulf of Mexico gives it a push early next week, bringing it all the way down into South Florida. It may be running out of gas by the time it gets into South Florida, and NWS forecasters in Miami say it’s unclear how much rain could slide into the area.

Post cold front, temperatures should return to more seasonable levels, or maybe slightly below normal. (But no indication of the kind of cold temps we had over Christmas weekend) . . . .

(Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

. . . In fact, the latest long-range forecast from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center suggests above normal temperatures for the second week of January, not only in Florida but the entire eastern two-thirds of the U.S.

Sunday update: Naples posts record cool high

Sunday morning temps in West-Central Florida. (Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

One last cold morning, and that will be it for the rest of the year!

Which is only five days.

Sunday morning lows: Miami, 52; West Palm Beach, 47; Fort Lauderdale, 51; Naples, 46; Orlando, 37; Daytona Beach, 35; Tampa, 37; Gainesville, 24; Cross City, 22; Jacksonville, 27; Tallahassee, 25.

Sunday forecast highs: Miami, 72; Orlando, 66; Tampa, 67; Jacksonville, 61; Tallahassee, 58.

Winds turn northeast today and bring in warmer air off the Atlantic. In fact, from Tuesday night through Friday night, forecast lows for South Florida’s East Coast are in the 70s, a far cry from the Christmas cold snap.

A cold front is due to roll down the Florida peninsula Friday night into Saturday, but the National Weather Service says it won’t be packing much of a punch by the time it arrives in South Florida.

RECORD WATCH: Saturday’s high in Naples was only 60 degrees, which set a record for the coolest high for December 26. The previous record was 61, set in 1993.

Teeth-chattering: wind chills in teens in North Florida

The southeast coast should make it into the 60s today but interior areas will top out in the 50s. (Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

Don’t worry, I promise not to mention falling iguanas today.

But it was a nasty cold Saturday morning by Florida standards, with northern counties plunging all the way down into the low 20s.

Saturday morning apparent lows: Miami, 47; West Palm Beach, 41; Fort Lauderdale, 46; Naples, 44.

Orlando and Melbourne, 36; Leesburg, 34; Winter Haven, 37; Tampa, 38; Gainesville, 24 (with a wind chill of 19 degrees); Cross City, 22; Jacksonville, 26; Lake City, 21; Tallahassee, 23; Key West, 58; Marathon, 55.

I couldn’t find any record setting temps in the state for Friday, although Jacksonville had a record wind gust of 46 mph on Christmas Eve. We should consider ourselves lucky, in South and most areas of Central Florida, that we didn’t have to bag tropical plants during this holiday weekend weather fiasco.

And National Weather Service forecasters in Miami said Saturday morning: “Good news is that the cold spell will finally begin backing off Sunday afternoon as max temps climb back to the upper 60s to low 70s with the veering NE winds pushing warmer air into the area.”

So far, the New Year’s holiday weekend doesn’t look too bad. Another cold front is headed into the peninsula, but South and Central locations may only be getting the tail end of it, according to forecasters. The GFS shows a cool-down on Friday but nothing too dramatic.

Warm-up starts Sunday; balmy New Year’s Day in forecast

(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

Merry Christmas from frigid Florida!

“Certainly keeps looking like this will likely be the coldest christmas in 20+ years,” National Weather Service in Miami said.

Morning lows (Weather Underground): Temps bottomed out close to 50 degrees on both South Florid coasts, with 40s inland. It was in the low- to mid-40s in Central Florida but 30s north of Orlando with freezing or near-freezing temperatures north of a line from around Ocala over to St. Augustine.

It was 26 in Live Oak, 28 in the Tallahassee area and mid- to upper-20s in the Florida panhandle, except high 30s to near 40 in some of the Gulf Coast areas.

Apparent lows from the National Weather Service: Miami, 54; Fort Lauderdale, 53; Naples, 51; and West Palm Beach, 50. It was 63 in Key West and in Marathon.

Orlando, 40; Tampa, 46; Jacksonville, 32; and Tallahassee, 27.

After another (slightly colder) Saturday morning, and an unseasonably cold Saturday, a warm-up begins Sunday and into next week.

“Temperatures will reach normal levels by Monday and by mid to late week will be running a good 3 to 5 degrees above normal for day time highs and 5 to 10 for overnight lows.”

The GFS is showing a warm New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day before another shot of cold air brings more below normal temperatures to Florida next weekend.

The night of the iguanas: Hard freeze could deliver a wallop

Most of the Florida peninsula was under a Level 1 (Marginal) threat for severe weather on Thursday into Friday morning, according to NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center. The Florida panhandle was under a Level 2 threat (Slight) as the front comes through on Thursday. (Image credit: NOAA/ SPC)

A Weather Underground headline this morning said: Frozen Iguanas May Soon Be a Problem in Florida.

Iguanas have been spotted as far north as Jacksonville, but they are becoming plentiful in Central Florida — although not as plentiful as they are in South Florida. In any case, the population north of Orlando could be in for a couple of rough nights tonight and Friday night.

There’s a hard freeze watch for North Florida with a forecast low on Saturday morning of 26 in Gainesville. Much of the rest of the peninsula will bottom out in the 30s and 40s (the southeast coast). That’s cold enough to stun iguanas but most of them should recover.

There’s no question, however, that this particular cold front means business.

It was in the single digits Thursday morning as far south as northern Missouri, and temperatures were below zero in northwestern Iowa. Temps were in the teens in the Chicago area. This morning’s low in Roseau, Minnesota was -20.

It was in the 70s along Florida’s southeast coast, with forecast highs in the 80s before the cold front that was just entering the Florida panhandle slaps the peninsula with Arctic air.

(Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

The panhandle and North Florida could see a tornado spin up as the front moves through, but severe weather chances diminish as it rolls down the peninsula. East-Central Florida was under a Moderate Threat for “excessive lightning.”

The thunderstorm threat (overnight) in South Florida was mainly north of Alligator Alley, the National Weather Service said.