As Michael moves away, more heat and humidity grip Florida peninsula

Tropical outlook Miami

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.

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‘Stormy pattern’ targets peninsula next week; red tide rolls up East Coast

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(Image credit: NHC)

September was hot and dry in many places around the Florida peninsula, particularly on the East Coast. The dry conditions could finally be washed away next by an “increasingly wet and stormy pattern,” the National Weather Service says.

The first system develops off the tail-end of Hurricane Leslie, which is now moving north, according to the National Weather Service in Miami. The system has potential for “wrapping deep tropical moisture around it as it moves toward the peninsula midweek,” NWS forecasters in Miami said.

The other concern is the low developing in the western Caribbean, which is being tracked by the National Hurricane Center. It has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression, or Tropical Storm Michael, as it moves north toward the Gulf of Mexico next week.

The low is expected to bring “a potentially impressive moisture plume with it,” NWS forecasters said.

Here’s how the Thursday morning model runs stacked up for the Caribbean low:

GFS — Low smashes into Central America; European: Low goes into Gulf of Mexico middle of next week, heads north, makes landfall in Florida panhandle following weekend.

FV3-GFS (experimental version of GFS) Low takes shape this weekend off Honduras, slides over East-Central Cuba this weekend, heads to Florida Straits and nicks the Keys and extreme South Florida as a weak disturbance. It muscles up in the Gulf and hits the northern Gulf Coast as a strong tropical storm or hurricane.

The Canadian (CMC) pretty much takes it straight north toward Pensacola by the end of next week.

The Navy model (NAVGEM) shows a strong storm bearing down on the Louisiana Coast.

Red tide map
(Image credit: FWC)

RED TIDE TAKING TOLL: The toxic algae that caused havoc on Florida’s West Coast this summer has been confirmed in three counties off the East Coast — Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties, the Miami Herald said Wednesday. The announcement came from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The algae, K. brevis, covered 135 miles of coastline from northern Pinellas County to northern Collier, FWC said in a news release Wednesday. “A patchy bloom of K. brevis continues in Northwest Florida,” the agency said. “A bloom of K. brevis was also observed on Florida’s East Coast for the first time this past week.

“On the East Coast, K. brevis was observed in St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties; up to ‘medium’ concentrations occurred only in and offshore of Palm Beach County.”

It’s the first appearance of red tide on the East Coast in more than a decade. Broward and Miami-Dade are also being tested and results are expected on Friday. In Palm Beach County, beaches are closed and fish kills have been reported at MacArthur State Park north of Singer Island, according to the Herald.

RECORD WATCH: Daytona Beach had its hottest September on record along with Sanford and Melbourne, the National Weather Service announced. Also at Melbourne, the low on Wednesday was only 79, which tied a record warm low set in 2002.

Hurricane Center watching new Caribbean system; September records roll in

Let the model watching begin

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(Image credit: NHC)

The western Caribbean blob of showers and thunderstorms is now an official “X” on the National Hurricane Center’s Tropical Outlook map. It’s marked in yellow, with a 30 percent chance of development into a tropical depression or storm over the next five days.

Tuesday morning’s run of the GFS had several lows dancing around the Caribbean, Bahamas and southern Gulf of Mexico over the next 7-10 days, but nothing that seems to gel. The European (ECMWF) tries to pull something together this weekend near Jamaica, and sends it north over the Bahamas, where it revs up north of Grand Bahama Island later in the week.

An experimental version of the GFS — the FV3-GFS — also likes the Jamaica area this weekend, shoots it north and then sends a sprawling low over South Florida early to mid-week. It fully develops in the Gulf of Mexico as it heads toward the northern Gulf Coast.

The Canadian (CMC) develops the system off the coast of Honduras this weekend, threads the needle between the Yucatan Peninsula and western Cuba on Monday and then brings it to the northern Gulf Coast around mid-week.

The Navy’s NAVGEM model spins it up off Honduras in the Thursday-Friday timeframe and then slides it up toward the western tip of Cuba by Monday as a strong hurricane.

Once this system takes shape toward the end of the week — if in fact that happens — we’ll start to have a better idea of where it’s going and how much punch it might be packing. But this is October, the time of the year when storms start to find favorable footing in the western Caribbean, so this is worth watching.

The NHC’s Tuesday analysis: “Unfavorable upper-level winds are expected to inhibit development over the next couple of days while the low drifts generally northward. By late week and over the weekend, however, upper-level winds are forecast to become a little more conducive for development when the system will be moving northwestward into the northwestern Caribbean Sea.”

This area had not been designated an invest yet and if/when it does get a number, we’ll start to see hurricane model runs.

RAINFALL REPORT: The new month started a little wetter than September on Florida’s East Coast. East-Central Florida in particular got a good soaking, with Daytona Beach reporting 1.08 inches Monday. Jacksonville reported 0.41 of an inch and Gainesville had 0.13. More than an inch and a half fell in coastal Nassau County to the north of Jacksonville, according to CoCoRaHS.

Although Miami reported just a trace of rain, Fort Lauderdale checked in with 0.43 of an inch and West Palm Beach measured 0.28 of an inch, and Fort Pierce picked up 0.08.

Key West had 0.13 of an inch.

Locations on the West Coast posted mostly goose eggs.

RECORD WATCH: It was the warmest September on record for a slew of West Coast cities, including Tampa, Winter Haven, Plant City, Punta Gorda, Tarpon Springs, Lakeland, Chiefland, Brooksville, and Arcadia, the National Weather Service in Tampa reported Tuesday. Many other cities in the area had a top-10-warmest month.

The National Weather Service in Jacksonville reported: “September 2018 will go down as one of the warmest and most humid September months on record in Jacksonville. Records date back to 1871 and were located downtown before moving to the airport location in 1956.

“The average temperature for the month was 82.4, which was 4.2 above normal. This ranked as the second warmest September on record behind 83.3 in 1925, but it was the warmest on record for September at the airport.”

In addition, “The average temperature in September tied the August 2018 value for the warmest month of the year. This is only the fourth time the average temperature in September was the warmest month of the calendar year, previously occurring in 1933, 1925 and 1921.”

Gainesville had its warmest September on record. The previous warmest on record was in 1925.

Florida September wrap: Record heat; mounting rainfall deficits

Key West warmest September

(Image credit: NWS-Key West)

It was a record breaking, blistering hot September across Florida, from the Keys to the panhandle.

Two interesting stats right out of the chute as we slide into October: Tampa closed out the month with another high of 97 on Sunday, the second day in a row at such lofty temps.

And in Key West, the National Weather Service announced that September was the hottest ever recorded. Several other locations are candidates for the hottest September on record, including Tampa, Gainesville and Tallahassee.

Tallahassee ended the month 4.5 degrees above average, while Tampa closed out at 4.2 degrees above average — ditto for Jacksonville.

But Gainesville topped them all, with an overall September temperature 5.3 degrees above normal.

There were also some significant rainfall shortages in September, led by Marathon (-6.02 inches); Melbourne (-6.01); Daytona Beach (-5.52); West Palm Beach (-5.21); Jacksonville (-4.78 inches); Orlando (-4.15); and Fort Myers (-3.36).

Here’s how some of the other cities stacked up:

SOUTH FLORIDA: Miami, + 0.4 degrees; – 1.97 iches; Fort Lauderdale, + 0.1 – 3.05; Naples, + 0.7 plus 1.1; and Key West, + 2.6, – .63.

EAST-CENTRAL: Vero Beach, + 1.3, – 2.44; AND Fort Pierce, plus 0.9, – 3.15,

WEST-CENTRAL: Tampa, + 4.2, + 2.9; and Sarasota, + 1.2, – 0.95.

NORTH: Jacksonville, + 4.2, – 4.78; and Gainesville, + 5.3, – 1.58.

PANHANDLE: Tallahassee, + 4.5, – 0.62; and Apalachicola, plus 3.3, – 1.03.

RECORD WATCH: Melbourne’s low of 81 smashed the old record of 78 set in 2007, and Vero Beach’s low of 79 beat the old record of 78 set in 1989. The West Palm Beach low of 80 tied the record set in 2009.

TROPICS WATCH: The National Hurricane Center says Leslie, which has transitioned from subtropical into a tropical storm in the Central Atlantic, will strengthen into a hurricane by Tuesday night with winds of 75 mph. Forecasters said Leslie would continue to sweep south and west until it reaches around 30N, after which it is expected to make a U-turn and move back to the north and east without impacting any land areas. It’s been meandering about half-way between Bermuda and the Azores.

Longer-range forecast models continue to suggest — although Monday’s GFS backed off of the idea — that a tropical system will spin up in the western Caribbean next weekend and move north toward the Gulf of Mexico or the Bahamas early the following week. We’ll have to see if NHC forecasters get out their colored markers later this week.

Torrid Tampa sizzles at 97– hottest temp ever recorded in September

Tampa record high

(Image credit: NWS-Tampa)

If you were in Tampa on Saturday you experienced a bit of weather history — it was a scorching 97 degrees, a record high for the date and the hottest it’s ever been in September. That obliterated the previous record high of 93 set in 2002.

The high temperature has hit 95 three times this month — 96 once on September 20 — and there have been eight daily highs of 94 degrees. The high only failed to reach 90 on one day this month: September 9, when it was 89.

September’s average high in Tampa was 93.1 with an average low of 78.6.

Saturday’s low of 79 also smashed a record warm low of 77 that had been set just a year ago. Temperature records date back to 1890.

Also on Saturday, Melbourne set a record warm low with 82, easily beating the previous record of 80 set in 1989. Fort Lauderdale tied a record warm low with 80 degrees.

There’s been some chatter about slightly cooler weather moving in next week for the first week of October. A “backdoor” cold front is forecast by the National Weather Service to slide across the state from the Atlantic, bring a little relief, mostly in terms of lower dew points, for the East Coast but not much for the West Coast.

10 day temps

(Image credit: NOAA/ CPC via NWS-Tallahassee)

And in fact forecast temps for mid-week have edged up even for the East Coast, with mid- to upper-80s expected from Melbourne down to Miami. But with strong easterly winds, temps may struggle to drop below 80 at night.

The 6-10-day temperature outlook released by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center indicates a continuation of above normal temperatures for the U.S. East Coast, all the way from Maine down to Florida. The only cool spot will be in the upper Midwest with above-normal temperatures favored for California and the West Coast, too.

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BARRED FROM THE BEACH: Test results are expected Monday on what caused an outbreak of respiratory distress at some East Coast beaches from Martin to Palm Beach County. Several beaches were closed on Saturday after people reported medical issues, WPTV-TV Palm Beach reported.

Causes are being investigated by the Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife, Palm Beach County, and Environmental Resource Management.

“Martin County officials say beachgoers are reporting respiratory issues consistent with Red Tide, which may be present,” the station reported. “While Martin County beaches remain open to swimmers, they are advising residents with respiratory issues to avoid Hobe Sound and Bathtub Beaches at this time.”

The Lake Worth public beach was also closed.

Red Tide is mostly a West Coast phenomenon but it’s not impossible for the contamination to get swept through the straits and up the East Coast by the Gulf Stream.

Anticipation: How cool will it get next week along the Florida coast?

1929 hurricane

HISTORIC HURRICANE: Friday was the anniversary of the 1929 Bahamas Hurricane smacking the Upper Keys, a powerhouse storm that washed out parts of the Overseas Railway and all road service to the Keys. Winds of up to 150 mph walloped Key Largo. The storm killed 51 people, most of them in the Bahamas, according to the National Weather Service in Key West. (Image credit: NWS-Key West)

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Winds will be gusting up to 25 mph along parts of Florida’s East Coast next week as slightly cooler air moves in from the Atlantic, the National Weather Service said.

In Miami on Friday, the dew point at noon was 77 degrees with an air temperature of 90 and humidity of 66 percent, resulting in a blistering heat index of 103.

How much cooler will it be? Not much, but dew points are expected to fall into the lower 70s, which will be an improvement over the smothering mid- to upper-70s that have driven up heat index numbers across South and Central Florida all month long. Add in some gusty winds off the Atlantic and it should feel relatively comfortable after four solid months of heat.

Cities on Florida’s East Coast, from Miami up to Melbourne and points north, should be looking at highs in the mid-80s next week, forecasters said.

Unfortunately, by the time the air gets to the West Coast, temperatures will be pushing into the high 80s to near 90 with heat index values again approaching 100 by the end of the week, according to the Weather Service in Tampa.

RECORD WATCH: Orlando tied a record warm low Friday that’s been on the books for 115 years. The temperature bottomed out at 77, which matched the mark set for the date in 1903.

Sanford broke its record warm low with 77, beating the 76 set in 2015. And Key West’s low of 83 tied the record warm minimum last set in 1974.

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TROPICS WATCH: Kirk fizzled out in the Caribbean with the last advisory from the National Hurricane Center issued Friday night at 11 p.m. “Heavy rains are still possible over portions of eastern Puerto Rico and St. Croix during the next day or two while Kirk’s remnants pass to the south,” forecaster Robbie Berg said.

A Flood Watch was in effect Saturday for Puerto Rico with wind gusts of up to 35 mph.

Subtropical Storm Leslie was the only game in town on Saturday morning. Forecasters predicted it would transition into a tropical storm by Sunday and reach hurricane status by mid-week as it meanders in the North-Central Atlantic.

Saturday runs of the GFS showed a couple potential areas of interest brewing in the western Caribbean/ Bahamas vicinity next weekend into the following week.

The Canadian (CMC) has a system in western Cuba next weekend.

Kirk clobbers parts of Antilles; string of record warm lows posted on Florida East Coast

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(Image credit: NHC)

TROPICAL STORM KIRK powered across parts of the Lesser Antilles Thursday night and early Friday morning, dropping 3-5 inches of rain in Barbados with wind gusts of 44-48 mph, according to the Caribbean Hurricane Network. Power was out in St. Lucia, where the storm’s center crossed the island, on Friday morning.

“I’m running my generator and my internet is up so all is good at the moment,” one St. Lucia resident posted on the network. “Other reports of power outages all over the island have been seen.”

There were also a few reports of roofs getting blown off and downed trees blocking roads.

“I have a bunch of banana trees that have taken a beating, much to my wife’s disgust.”

Kirk still had winds of 50 mph early Friday morning, but it was forecast to quickly degenerate into a depression by Saturday and dissipate on late Saturday or Sunday.

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It’s going to be a September to remember up and down much of the Florida peninsula and into the panhandle as well. It continues to look like there will be a (slight) cool-down next week to kick off the new month, according to the National Weather Service.

Notable high temps on Thursday: Winter Haven, 96; Orlando, 95; Punta Gorda, 95; and Tampa, 94.

Sanford’s high of 95 broke the previous record of 94 degrees set on September 27, 2010.

Record warm lows were set or tied along the southeast coast and the Keys. Miami’s low of 82 broke the old record of 81 set in 1989; Fort Lauderdale’s 83 broke the old record of 82 set in 2014; and West Palm Beach’s low of 82 busted the previous mark of 81 set in 1995.

Key West also checked in with a super-balmy low of 85, smashing the previous record warm low of 82 set in 2014.