Florida sizzles: Stuart heat index hits 107; Cross City, 106

CFL heat index

(Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

It’s mid-August, and nature’s broiler commonly known as the State of Florida is firmly locked in the “on” position.

Stuart reported a heat index Thursday of 107 degrees. To the north and west in Cross City, it was 106 and back on the East Coast, Titusville checked in with 105..

Even Fort Lauderdale, where you would expect easterly winds off the Atlantic would keep things a bit cooler, the heat index reached 104.

Similar readings could be found as you hopscotch across the peninsula: Naples, 105; Venice, 104; Sarasota, 101; Melbourne, 103; and Orlando, 102.

The “cool” spots were Miami (101) and West Palm Beach (100).

RAINFALL REPORT: Thursday’s heaviest rains were focused on the West side of the peninsula, with 2.33 inches falling in Polk County near Lakeland. Isolated amounts of around an inch-and-a-half were reported as far south as the Fort Myers area and north into Putnam County along the St. Johns River.

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(Image credit: NHC)

TROPICS WATCH: Subtropical Storm Ernesto became Tropical Storm Ernesto late Thursday, but time was running out for the system as it headed toward cold waters of the North Atlantic. It was forecast to become post-tropical by Friday night, and slam into Ireland and the UK over the weekend.

Invest 99L east of the Lesser Antilles was running out of time as well — not because it was moving into cooler water, but because it was headed toward dry air in the eastern Caribbean. It isn’t known as “the graveyard” for Atlantic hurricanes for nothing.

At 8 p.m., the National Hurricane Center dropped 99L from its Tropical Weather Outlook map, saying conditions for development had become unfavorable.

While the GFS is suggesting that another storm could form in the Central Atlantic over the next week, hurricane researcher Philip Klotzbach predicted below normal activity through the end of the month.

In an analysis released Thursday by Klotzbach and Colorado State University, he said: “We believe that the next two weeks will be characterized by activity at below normal levels (0–5 ACE).

“The National Hurricane Center has one area with a low probability of development over the next five days. None of the global models indicate significant tropical cyclone development in the next week. While vertical wind shear is predicted to be below-average in week one across most of the tropical Atlantic, vertical wind shear is predicted to strengthen across most of the basin in week two.

“The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) is forecast to be relatively weak in week one, with some potential amplification in phases 4 and 5 in week two. These phases tend to be associated with near-average periods for Atlantic hurricane activity but coupled with the unfavorable seasonal conditions are likely to yield below-average activity.”

Based on climatology, the Atlantic is still ahead of schedule, since on average the fifth named storm doesn’t form until August 31. But the year has been notable for its weak, short-lived subtropical storms and it looks as though that pattern may continue into September.

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Tropical Storm Debby on its way out; red tide plagues Florida southwest coast

GMIR

TROPICS WATCH: It’s August 9, and a rather robust tropical wave is coming off the East Coast of Africa. We’re getting into the time of the hurricane season when these waves could be worrisome, but the GFS shows nothing developing in the Atlantic through August 24.  Reasons include dry air and Saharan dust (see below), which have been blanketing the tropical Atlantic all summer. (Image credits: Top, Europe’s Meteorological Satellite Organization (EUMETSAT) via NOAA; bottom, NWS-Key West).

TWO Key West

ALSO: The European (ECMWF) is relaxed regarding tropical development over the next 10 days, and even the normally hyperactive Canadian model (CMC) shows nothing of concern through August 18.

Nevertheless, the 2019 hurricane season is actually a little ahead of schedule. Based on data from 1966 through 2009, on average the fourth named storm doesn’t form until August 23, and we’ve already checked off Tropical Storm Debby.

The fifth named storm — this year it would be Ernesto — on average occurs August 31.

Tropical Storm Debby was accelerating toward the northeast on Thursday with winds of 45 mph. It was forecast to dissipate by Friday.

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Red tide August 8

(Image credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

HAZARDOUS BEACH CONDITIONS: Florida’s southwest coast has been plagued by red tide during the first week of August. On Wednesday, the National Weather Service in Miami issued a Beach Hazard Statement for Collier County beaches through at least Thursday for “significant red tide conditions” through at least Thursday.

The story around much of the rest of the peninsula has been heat. Heat index values have been hovering around 100, and nature’s broiler was expected to be in the “on” position through the weekend.

The heat index topped out at around 103 degrees mid-week in South Florida — with actual temps hitting 95 inland away from the moderating influences of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

In Central Florida, Orlando has been right up there with actual temperatures approaching the mid-90s and a heat index of 101 degrees.

The highest heat index published by the National Weather Service Wednesday was 104 degrees in Inverness, Citrus County, north of Tampa.

New Colorado State forecast calls for nine more named storms, three hurricanes

Key West record

COOKING IN THE KEYS: Not only did Key West log its hottest July on record, but 29 of the 31 days had highs at or above 90 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. The average for July is 13. (Image credit: NWS-Key West)

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Colorado State University turned another thumbs-down to the 2018 hurricane season Thursday as we head toward the year’s late-August to early-October peak.

Three named storms have already formed in the Atlantic, but conditions in July have been unusually hostile, with dry air, Saharan dust and high wind shear eliminating tropical activity. There hasn’t even been so much as an invest — an area of disturbed weather under scrutiny at the National Hurricane Center — since early days of July.

On Wednesday, CSU hurricane researcher Philip Klotzbach said on Twitter: “The Climate Forecast System is calling for even stronger vertical wind shear during August through October in the Caribbean and across the tropical Atlantic now than it was one month ago. Stronger vertical wind shear tears apart #hurricanes as they’re trying to form.”

The new CSU forecast, the last seasonal forecast of the year, calls for nine more named storms, three hurricanes and one major hurricane. That would yieild a season total of 12, five and two. CSU will issue two-week forecasts from early August through the end of October. NOAA will issue its seasonal update next Thursday.

The NHC Tropical Outlook map was clear for at least the next five days, and the GFS shows nothing of significance developing through the middle of the month.

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RECORD WATCH: Record warm lows were recorded Wednesday in Melbourne and Vero Beach. The low in Vero was 78, tying a record set back in 1945. Melbourne’s low was also 78, tying a record warm minimum temperature set in 1983.

Panhandle rainfall

SOAKER: Parts of the Central Panhandle were hammered with heavy rain on Wednesday, and another round was in the forecast for Thursday as a trough of low pressure sits over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. Tallahassee officially picked up 2.94 inches Wednesday with 1.98 inches in Apalachicola. High pressure was in control in South Florida, the National Weather Service in Miami said, keeping things relatively dry over the next seven days. (Image credit: NWS-Tallahassee)

Melbourne, Vero sizzle at 98 degrees; Central Florida rainfall records set

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(Image credit: NWS-Key West)

Record heat and record rainfall stretched across the Florida peninsula on Sunday.

The high in Vero Beach was a torrid 98 degrees, shattering the previous record high for the date of 96 set in 1993. It was also 98 in Melbourne, which tied a record high set in 1981.

The high in Key West hit 94, busting the previous record high of 93 set way back in 1956. Key West also logged a record warm minimum temp Sunday of 85, tying a mark set in 2011.

Naples also set a new record warm minimum with 85 degrees, easily beating the old mark set in 1954.

At the same time, several washouts were reported around the state, from the panhandle to North Florida and Central Florida.

Orlando set a new daily rainfall record with 2.43 inches, breaking the old record of 1.88 inches set in 2011. Sanford also set a rainfall record with 1.40 inches, beating the old record of 0.99 of an inch set in 2011.

Other totals from CoCoRaHS: Trenton area, Gilchrist County (southwest of Gainesville), 4.44 inches; Alachua, northwest of Gainesville, 4.18 inches; western Orlando suburbs, 3.90 inches; Cocoa West area, Brevard County, 2.83 inches; Ocala National Forest in Marion County, 3.34 inches;

SOUTH FLORIDA: Royal Palm Beach, 1.41 inches; Lake Worth, 1.74; Banyan Cay Resort & Golf Club, West Palm Beach, 2.57 inches; Palm Beach Island, 0.41.

Eighteen-hour totals from the National Weather Service: 2.07 inches Gainesville; 1,84 inches Leesburg; 1.36 inches; and Cross City; 1.17 inches.

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STORM KILLER: Up to 9 trillion pounds of Saharan dust has been swept up into the Earth’s atmosphere this year, creating “almost a biblical plague” on Texas and the Southeastern U.S., researchers at Texas A&M conclude in a new study. It’s tough on people with respiratory issues, but has at least one helpful function — keeping tropical storms from forming.

The traveling dust creates a temperature inversion that prevents cloud formation, researchers said.

“The Saharan dust will reflect and absorb sunlight, therefore reduce the sunlight at the Earth’s surface,” said Bowen Pan, of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences.

“If we have more frequent and severe dust storms, it’s likely that we have a cooler sea surface temperature and land surface temperature. The storms have less energy supply from the colder surface therefore will be less severe.”

Amid torrid temps, Weather Service recalls South Florida’s record-shattering WWII heat wave

It’s been a weekend of searing heat around the Florida peninsula — with some afternoon thunderstorms coming to the rescue thanks to a frontal system draped over the state.

With a southwest wind flow, East Coast cities are in the hot seat with temperatures climbing into the upper 90s in some of the western metro areas. To wit: Saturday temps reported to the National Weather Service (not necessarily official) included 98 in Boca Raton; 97 in Fort Lauderdale; and 99 at Zoo Miami.

The Pompano Beach Airport reported a high of 99 and an observer in Lantana, Palm Beach County, reported 100.

The heat index in both Miami and Fort Lauderdale climbed to 105.

In East-Central Florida, it was 95 in Melbourne for the fourth day in a row with a heat index of 105. (Tuesday’s high was 97.)

The West Coast was a bit cooler in the low 90s.

Record hot 1942 temps

A look at Florida’s all-time record heat on July 21, 1942. (Image credit: NWS-Miami)

To put the heat into perspective, Saturday was the 76th anniversary of all-time record hot weather around South and Central Florida, with July 21 highs of 101 in West Palm Beach, and 100 in Fort Lauderdale and Miami. It was 105 in Port St. Lucie, so you can imagine there weren’t many picnics that day in East-Central Florida.

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(Image credit: NOAA)

With temperatures that hot, you have to wonder what the heat index was like. Humidity goes down with rising temperatures, but it’s unlikely that humidity levels in Florida were in the range of the Desert Southwest, at 10-20 percent. According to a NOAA chart, with a high of 105 the heat index would have been around 120 degrees even if the humidity had dropped to 40 percent.

On top of that, remember that few homes had air conditioning in 1942, so year-round Florida residents were a hardy lot indeed. No wonder the best restaurant marketing tool as the ’40s rolled into the ’50s was: “Come in … it’s cool inside!”

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RAINFALL REPORT: From the National Weather Service: Tallahassee, 1.12 inches; Tampa, 0.76; Punta Gorda, 0.85; Naples, 0.32. Several CoCoRaHS observers in the Tallahassee area reported more than 2 inches.

Rain chances remain high around the Florida peninsula into mid-week with a trough of low pressure hanging over the peninsula, according to the National Weather Service. Some severe storms are possible, forecasters said.

Severe weather threat

Severe weather threat on Sunday. (Image credit: NWS-Tampa)

Widespread rain arrives Sunday; Miami assesses Friday tornado

Miami tornado

WEEK ENDS WITH A TWIST: A tornado touched down in Miami just south of Southwest 8th Street in University Park on Friday, the National Weather Service reported. Its life on the ground was brief — starting at 4:22 p.m. and lifting out two minutes later. It was assessed as an EF-0 with peak winds of 55 mph. “The tornado did minor damage to trees, mailboxes, street signs, canopies, and basketball hoops before it became waterspout over a retention pond and lifted,” NWS forecasters said in a Facebook post. (Image credit: NWS-Miami)

Parts of North Florida and the Nature Coast were hammered again Friday with 2-3 inches of rain — a preview of coming attractions for what was shaping up to be a wet weekend.

Off State Road 19, near the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management area northwest of Brooksville, an observer for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network reported 3.5 inches. On the other side of the state, 2.28 inches was reported at Jacksonville Beach.

North of Tallahassee, 1.21 inches was reported north of Tallahassee.

There were impressive amounts in other parts of the peninsula, but the storms were isolated. An observer northwest of Orlando reported 1.61 inches. Coastal Palm Beach County picked up about a half-inch in a late afternoon/ early evening thunderstorm.

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North Florida has a “Slight Risk” of severe thunderstorms on Sunday, but the entire state should see more widespread thunderstorm activity, according to the Storm Prediction Center. (Image credit: NOAA/ SPC)

More widespread rain isn’t due to arrive in South Florida until Sunday, the National Weather Service said, as storms associated with low pressure to the north slide down the peninsula. Saturday’s forecast for the southeast Florida metro areas called for dry weather and heat index values as high as 107.

But rain chances jump to 50-60 percent Sunday through Wednesday, forecasters in Miami said.

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KEY NOTE: While Florida’s southeast coast, and East-Central Florida, have been seeing close to normal temperatures in July, it’s been blistering in the Keys. Key West is running 2.5 degrees above normal this month and is an inch short on rainfall. Marathon is 1.7 degrees above average with a rainfall deficit of 1.26 inches.

Key West has had 10 record warm temperatures in July so far and Friday was the first day since Monday that no record was posted.

Wet weather targets Florida panhandle, peninsula’s East Coast

7 day rainfall

Rain through the weekend and into early next week should be focused on the Florida panhandle, North Florida and the peninsula’s East Coast, forecasters said. (Image credit: NOAA/ WPC)

Rain chances will be on the rise in most of Florida this week — but especially in the panhandle — as a trough of low pressure moves toward the Gulf Coast, according to NOAA.

The agency’s Weather Prediction Center indicates that around 3-5 inches of rain could fall in parts of the panhandle and in the Big Bend area. Over the peninsula, storms that form in the interior should move toward the East Coast on southwest winds, the National Weather Service said.

That means drier weather for the Southwest Coast.

Rainfall in parts of South Florida may be capped by the arrival of more Saharan air, the National Weather Service in Miami said.

The bad news: “Heat index values through Wednesday are forecast to be as high as 106 for the western half of Collier County, Mainland Monroe and inland Miami-Dade over the Everglades,” NWS forecasters said in their Tuesday discussion from Miami. “Heat index values are also forecast to reach 106 for portions of metro Palm Beach County today-Wednesday.”

RECORD WATCH: The low in Fort Lauderdale Monday was 82, breaking a record warm minimum temperature of 81 set in 2009. A record warm minimum temperature was tied at the Orlando-Sandford Airport Monday with 78 degrees. The mark was last set in 1990.

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UNHEALTHY IN HELSINKI: As noted in Monday’s post on Florida’s Algae problem, state university researchers say blue-green algae blooms have become a worldwide issue. Now it turns out that the Trump-Putin summit wasn’t the only news to come out of Helsinki Finland this week — the Gulf of Finland has been “overrun” with blue-green algae, according to the environmental agency, SYKE.

Part of the reason for the algae bloom is that Finland has been experiencing “tropical conditions” according to the Finnish news agency, UUTISET, with highs in the mid- to upper-80s.

“When there is a lot of phosphorous and we get this kind of heat, it creates an ideal environment for blue-green algae,” SYKE researcher Seppo Knuutila told the news organization. Residents and vacationers are being warned not to go into the algae-infested waters.