Luckily, nothing tropical to worry about for the Florida peninsula, but it looks like the heat will hang on. (Image credit: NWS-Miami)
The National Weather Service has issued a preliminary report on Hurricane Michael, which slammed the Florida panhandle Wednesday “as an unprecedented high-end Category 4 ….” Maximum sustained winds were 155 mph — just a hair below Category 5 strength — and the minimum pressure was an astonishing 919 mb.
“The storm caused catastrophic damage from wind and storm surge, particularly in the Panama City Beach to Mexico Beach areas,” the National Weather Service said.
Most of the data from the Central Panhandle was missing, but Tallahassee checked in with 3.20 inches of rain.
“As the storm crashed ashore, winds gusted as high as 130 mph along the coast from Panama City to Mexico Beach,” the Washington Post reported. “The storm surge inundated Apalachicola in over seven feet of ocean water, a new record.”
While those in the panhandle were fighting to protect lives and property, there were impacts of a different sort in the Florida peninsula, where record warm temperatures were set or tied up and down the East Coast. Since the east side of Michael produced southerly winds, steamy tropical air was sucked up into the peninsula, with dew points near 80 in Miami that drove the heat index to as high as 104 degrees.
West Palm Beach had a dew point of 82 and a heat index of 101, and in Melbourne the dew point was in the mid- to upper-70s with a heat index of 105. The smothering heat was reminiscent of a day in July — not mid-October.
Here’s a list of the temperature records set or tied on Wednesday:
- Vero Beach tied a record high with 91, matching the mark set in 2009.
- Sanford set a record warm minimum temperature with 78, beating the previous record of 76 set just last year. In addition, it was the warmest low ever record in Sandford in October.
- Orlando set a new record warm low with 77, beating the previous record of 75 set last year.
- Naples’ low of 80 broke the old record of 78 set in 1995.
- Fort Pierce set a new record warm low with 80, beating a 99-year-old record of 79 set in 1919.
- The low in Jacksonville only fell to 79, beating the old record of 78 for the date set in 1964 and setting a new all-time record warm low for October.
- Gainesville also set a new record warm low for October at 78. The old record was 77 set in 1971.
Heat index readings were expected to top 100 again Thursday in South Florida, and rain chances head down for the remainder of the week, falling into the 20-30 percent range by the weekend.
The rainy season officially ends Monday in South Florida, but there doesn’t seem to be any real break in sight for the heat and humidity.