Winds start to wind down, but rip current threat remains

Spring Break Safety

Easterly winds are calming, but there remains a risk of rip currents at Florida’s East Coast beaches. (Image credit: NOAA/ NWS-Jacksonville)

RAINFALL REPORT: A few spotty showers have been streaming over the peninsula on strong easterly winds — “tropical” showers, the National Weather Service called them this morning — but most sites report only a few hundredths of an inch. An exception was in Palm Beach County, where a CoCoRaHS observer in the Lake Worth/ Lantana area reported an inch of rain through 7 a.m.

In Broward County, an observer in Coral Springs reported just under a half-inch, while an observer near Pompano Beach reported a third of an inch.

TOP WIND GUSTS: A gust of 45 mph was reported at the University of Miami on Monday while observers at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton reported a 42 mph gust. An observer in Sunrise, Broward County, reported a gust of 41 mph on Monday, and a gust of 40 mph was reported at the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.

Winds start to wind down a bit today and the breezy weather should be out of the picture by Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service in Miami.

A nice stretch of weather is on the horizon, according to forecasters, with highs in the 80s over the next 10 days or so. A late-week cold front slides into Central Florida but dissipates before making it to South Florida, they said.

Weather Service issues Wind Advisory for South Florida

Wind Advisory

(Image credits: NWS-Miami)

Peak gusts

HOLD ON TO YOUR HAT: There’s a Wind Advisory in effect for coastal areas of southeastern Florida through tonight, with gusts of up to 40 mph, the National Weather Service in Miami said.

“In addition, for the Palm Beaches, very minor and localized coastal flooding could occur starting tonight, especially around times of high tide,” forecasters warned.

In interior areas of southwest Florida, “the combination of breezy winds and a dry air mass may result in elevated fire-weather conditions,” forecasters said. “Near-critical fire-weather conditions will be possible across Coastal Collier County.”

The winds are being generated by a strong high pressure system to the north. Breezy weather is in the NWS forecast for South Florida through Monday.


CLOCK WATCH: Did you remember to set your clocks ahead? March 8 is the only day of the year with 23 hours, but we’ll get that hour back November 1 with a 25-hour day as we return to standard time.

That’s assuming Florida officials don’t get their way and institute Daylight Saving Time all year around. (The idea still needs congressional approval.)

The time changes in March and November have been sliced and diced many different ways over the years, but here’s one reason why business loves the change: Consumers spend more money.

I posted a blog on the Canadian study last March on my Headline Health site.

Consumers change their buying habits when they’re sleepy, which happens for a time after DST begins. When they’re shopping, people put a wider variety of products in their carts if they are suffering from sleep deficiency, according to a study released just before last year’s spring time change.

“The day after daylight savings people tend to be sleepier as they get less sleep, on average about 30 to 60 minutes,” said Charles Weinberg, a professor or marketing and behavioral science at the UBC Sauder School of Business in Vancouver, British Columbia.

“So, we wanted to see how this would play out in the real world, and through the study we’re seeing that you tend to buy more different types of candy bars, for example, on the day after daylight savings time than you would on other days of the week. That’s even after controlling for how many candy bars you choose.”

Daylight Saving Time ends this year on November 1.


KEVIN COSTNER HAD IT RIGHT: The Earth was once a water world, with oceans covering the entire planet, a new study says. We may be headed that way again in the future, if you believed the 1995 box office “Waterworld” bomb, but that scenario was definitely part of the past — 3.2 billion years ago, researchers at the Iowa State University say.

“An early Earth without emergent continents may have resembled a ‘water world,’ providing an important environmental constraint on the origin and evolution of life on Earth as well as its possible existence elsewhere,” geologists Benjamin Johnson and Boswell Wing wrote in a paper just published online by the journal Nature Geoscience.

Life began in the oceans and the same thing may be happening in some of the other far-away “waterworlds” that have been identified by NASA.

Florida cities log unusually warm January; forecasters look ahead to next storm system

End of week storm

LOOKING AHEAD: It’s a little unusual for the National Weather Service to advertise potentially severe weather this far out, but an end-of-week cold front may trigger some bad weather in North Florida on Thursday, according to forecasters. Still plenty of time to see how this event unfolds. (Image credit: NWS-Jacksonville)


South Florida was hammered late Friday into early Saturday morning with heavy rain moving in from the Gulf of Mexico as a warm front pulled up from the Straits, dropping more than 2 inches of rain in northeastern Miami-Dade County and almost an inch-and-a-half in the Middle and Upper Keys.

On the West Coast, a CoCoRaHS observer in Bonita Springs measured 1.76 inches in the backyard bucket. Otherwise, an observer in Aventura, Miami-Dade, took the honors for heaviest rainfall with 2.38 inches.

Totals in Palm Beach County topped out at 1.73 inches in the Boynton Beach area.

Totals were much lighter, in the quarter-inch range, in East-Central Florida.

Part two of the weekend rain event was penciled in by forecasters from the National Weather Service for Saturday afternoon and evening as the cold front rolls down the peninsula, dropping overnight temperatures into the 40s in interior areas and 50s along the coasts.

By order of the Miami-Dade Tourist Development Council, Super Bowl Sunday will be sunny, cool and dry, with highs around 70.


JANUARY WRAP: Once again, temperatures were above normal across the state. Miami was 3.3 degrees above average and had a precipitation surplus of almost a half-inch, thanks to a two-day rainfall total of 1.50 inches on Thursday and Friday. West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, though, had rainfall deficits with above-normal temps.

Naples was an impressive 5.2 degrees above average with a slight rainfall surplus.

It was a mixed bag in the Keys, although both Marathon and Key West had above normal temperatures in January. Key West was slightly under for precipitation; Marathon was slightly over.

In Central Florida, Orlando was 5.3 degrees above average with a rainfall deficit of 1.73 inches. Only 0.62 of an inch of rain fell in Orlando all month. It was even drier in Daytona Beach, where 0.44 of an inch fell in January, a deficit of 2.30 inches. Temperatures, though, were 4.3 degrees above average.

On the West Coast, Tampa was 4.5 degrees above average with a rainfall deficit of 1.15 inches.

In North Florida, Jacksonville had the highest temperature anomalies in January — 6.4 degrees above average — with a big precip shortfall of 3.12 inches. Only 0.18 of an inch of rain fell at the airport: 0.07 of an inch on January 4 and 0.11 of an inch on January 29.

Likewise, Tallahassee had a 3.01-inch rainfall deficit but temperatures were 5.7 degrees above normal.

Feb temps

FEBRUARY OUTLOOK: NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center unveiled its latest February forecast Friday, calling for above normal temperatures in the eastern U.S., with the highest probabilities for warm temperature anomalies in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Above normal precipitation was also forecast for the southeastern U.S. (Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

Pre-game predictions: Forecasters tackle flooding, severe weather risks

Excessive rainfall risk

Saturday will be the focus of potentially heavy rains over the southern half of the peninsula (above, credit: NOAA/ WPC) and possible severe weather, including gusty winds and tornadoes over the extreme southern peninsula and the Keys (below, credit: NOAA/ SPC).

Severe storm threat

Florida is getting ready for a super-stormy Super Bowl Weekend, although the weather for the final quarter of the weekend on Sunday night in Miami should be cool and dry.

Rainfall totals are notoriously difficult to predict, but here’s what the National Weather Service envisions for the next day or so from the soggy systems that are forecast to converge over the Florida peninsula, and the Keys, over the next day or two:

Through 7 p.m. Saturday: Naples, 1.17 inches; Miami, 0.87; amd West Palm Beach, 0.89. Central (through Monday 7 a.m.): Stuart, 0.77; Vero Beach, 0.69; Melbourne, 0.52; and Orlando, 0.39.

West Central: Tampa, 0.25; Lakeland, 0.75 inches; and Fort Myers, 1.25 inches.

NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center put the southern portion of the Florida peninsula under a level one “Marginal Risk” for Excessive Rainrfall, which means flooding is a possibility, with the focus on Southwest Florida early on Saturday and the rest of the area Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning.

Also, the Storm Prediction Center has the southern tip of the peninsula, along with the Keys at level two “Slight Risk” for severe storms, including strong winds and tornadoes, south of a line from Naples to Boca Raton; and at level one “Marginal Risk” for a slice to the north which includes West Palm Beach and Fort Myers.

The SPC said Friday: “Precipitation may train across the same region resulting in an increased potential for flash flooding, especially Saturday morning into the afternoon hours … local amounts in the 2-4″ range would not be a surprise.”


LONG-RANGE: This is the last day of the first month of the first year of the new decade (easier to write than it is to say), and the Climate Prediction Center will have an updated February forecast later in the day, which I will post.

For the time being, once this strong cold front moves through Florida on Sunday, giving us a couple of days of chilly, well-below normal weather, a warm-up is on the agenda for mid-week.

After that, predictions from the CPC call for above normal temperatures, and above normal precipitation, across the entire state from February 5-13.


HOT TOPICS: Today rounds out Severe Weather Awareness Week with a look at extreme heat and wildfires. The Florida peninsula has had decent rainfall so far this winter, a trend forecast to continue in February, so we’ll see how that impacts wildfire season this spring.

We know heat is coming — that’s a given. Surrounded by water, humidity is high in Florida and the heat index can become a health hazard.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management notes: “The hottest temperature ever recorded in Florida was 109 degrees Fahrenheit on June 29, 1931, in Monticello. In 2010, a heat index of 124 degrees was observed at the Apalachicola Airport.”


Severe weather possible before weekend cold front arrives

Severe storm risk

(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

More than an inch of rain soaked the Cape Coral area of Southwest Florida overnight Wednesday into Thursday morning, and more was on the way for the first part of the weekend along with the potential for some severe weather in parts of South Florida.

NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center put much of South Florida at a Level 2 risk — forecasters call it a “Slight Risk” — Friday night through Sunday morning with the bulk of the storms occurring Friday night and Saturday.

For Saturday, the SPC has South Florida at a Slight Risk from just south of Naples over to Boca Raton on the East Coast, down to the peninsula’s southern tip.  A slice of Level 1 or “Marginal Risk runs from around Fort Myers up through West Palm Beach. Central Florida is expecting thunderstorms.

“The main hazards with these storms look to be gusty winds, small hail, minor localized flooding, and funnel clouds,” National Weather Service forecasters in Miami said. “Given the instability and shear, along with the presence of the jet, a brief tornado can’t be entirely ruled out, though the most prime location for that looks to be across the far southern portion of the peninsula.”

Sunday is expected to be clear and much cooler, with highs only around 70 in Miami, headed for an overnight low of 55; 67 in Orlando going down to a Monday morning low of 46; and 66 in Tampa heading for a low of 48.

Come to think of it, that’s not bad football weather. But expect to see lots of jackets and sweatshirts at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on Super Bowl Sunday with game time temperatures slipping into the 60s along with wind gusts of up to 23 mph, according to the National Weather Service.


RAINFALL REPORT: Observers for the rainfall network CoCoRaHS reported up to 1.26 inches of rain in Cape Coral, from late Wednesday through early Thursday morning. Glades and Hendry counties reported up to 1.23 inches; and Sarasota County had just under an inch.

An observer near Pahokee in Palm Beach County reported 1.10 inches, while coastal areas had closer to a quarter of an inch as a weak cold front rolled down the peninsula Wednesday night.

Northeastern Miami-Dade picked up as much as 0.81 of an inch, and around a half-inch fell on the Treasure Coast.


Severe Weather Awareness hurricanes

AROUND THE CORNER AND DOWN THE STREET: Do we need a reminder? Apparently so, as Thursday is the day to focus on hurricanes in Florida as part of Severe Weather Awareness Week. Just in case you’re keeping score at home, there are 121 shopping days until the start of the 2020 hurricane season on June 1. (Image credit: NOAA)

Arctic cold front this weekend to chill Super Bowl fans

Tornado drill

(Image credit: NOAA)

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: Today, which is the middle of Severe Weather Awareness Week in Florida, the focus is on tornadoes. And in connection with that a tornado drill was scheduled at 10 a.m., when NOAA weather radios announce the drill amid live tweets. “Take shelter as you would for a real tornado, take a selfie, and tweet us using #TornadoDrill #SWAW2020,” the National Weather Service says.


SUPER COLD FRONT: A front that will push air into South Florida that’s “Arctic in nature, if not at least from northern Canada,” will cast a chill over Super Bowl Sunday in Miami, the National Weather Service says. It will feel cold after temps in the high 70s to near 80 that are expected to end the week. But Sunday’s forecast high in Miami is 70, which is 7 degrees below normal, should make it “an excellent day for outdoor activities, especially in northern Miami-Dade County.”

Lows are forecast to be in the 40s in interior areas; 50s along the coast, so you’ll see plenty of jackets at Hard Rock Stadium.

There’s a 50 percent chance of rain Friday night and Saturday in South Florida; 30-50 percent in Central Florida.


BUSY BUSY BUSY: You may think pilots who fly Hurricane Hunter aircraft kick back in the winter and smoke ’em if they got ’em, but in fact they are busy collecting data for winter storms, NOAA says.

“From the beginning of November to the middle of April, two types of aircraft, the NOAA G-IV and the USAF Reserve WC-130J, have been flying over the Gulf of Mexico, along the U.S East Coast, and even over the Pacific Ocean to gather data on winter storms that may have big impacts of wind, rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow and even storm surge,” the agency says in a story posted on the NOAA website.

“Orders come from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction in College Park, Maryland. Depending upon where the winter storm could develop, the aircraft are sent to the Gulf of Mexico, or the Atlantic Ocean off the middle-Atlantic coastline, or perhaps both. They also fly over the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California for winter storms, including atmospheric rivers, that may affect the U.S West Coast.”

As in hurricanes, the aircraft deploy dropwindsondes over the ocean areas and collect data on temperature, wind, moisture and pressure. The data go into computer models to improve forecasts for winter storms.



WET START TO THE WEEKEND: Parts of South Florida could get more than an inch of rain from a strong cold front forecast to roll down the peninsula on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. Up to a half-inch can be expected in East-Central Florida with lighter amounts to the west. (Image credits: NWS-Miami, above; NWS-Melbourne, below.

ECFL precip

After chilly Sunday morning, ‘unsettled’ weather pattern next week


NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center has most of the Florida peninsula at risk for thunderstorms on Monday, continuing into Tuesday for South Florida. Another storm system could wet things down next weekend. (Image credit: NOAA/ SPC)

It was a chilly Sunday morning, but actually temperatures could be described as seasonably cool across the peninsula. These days, it seems like the new normal for the southern half of the peninsula is lows in the 60s, but we’re still in the coolest time of the year and average lows are in the 50s.

Average/ normal temps are now on the upswing in Florida; Orlando’s normal low edged up from 49 to 50 today. Miami kicks its normal low up to 61 on Wednesday. Tampa’s normal low gets bumped up to 53 on Thursday.

Morning temps were in the low 50s along the southeastern coast, although it was 55 in Hialeah and 55 in Key Largo, a far cry from the punch of cold air last week when both Miami and Key Largo were shivering at 40 degrees.

There were some low 40s today in interior southwestern Florida, and Central Florida was in the mid- to upper-40s. You had to go northwest of a line from around Dunnellon to St. Augustine to find upper 30s, and the panhandle was mostly in the mid-30s.


STORMS AND SHADOWS: A low forecast to develop in the Gulf of Mexico will bring rain on Monday, followed by some dry weather and then another round of “unsettled” weather for the weekend. Forecasters’ crystal ball is a little fuzzy seven days out, but Sunday is the Super Bowl at Joe Robbie Stadium Pro Player Stadium Dolphins Stadium Land Shark Stadium Sun Life Stadium Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, and the weather may not be Chamber of Commerce quality for the big weekend-long event.

National Weather Service forecasters in Miami put it this way: “Will certainly continue to the monitor the late week system as it could potentially put a damper on any outdoor activities or games planned for the upcoming weekend.” (Italics added.)

Weather Underground is calling for thunderstorms in Miami on Saturday, but partly cloudy and cooler temps on Sunday, with a high of 73. AccuWeather is forecasting cloudy skies both days.

The main question for next Sunday, though, is not who wins the Super Bowl but whether Punxsutawney Phil sees is shadow up in Pennsylvania. First peek, the forecast for Punxsutawney is for cloudy skies with snow showers, so one might assume that the prophetic groundhog won’t see his shadow and an early spring will be forthcoming.

However, in past years Phil has still managed to see his shadow, despite the lack of sun, and predicted six more weeks of winter. It could be that all the TV cameras cast a shadow, or maybe Phil just mixes environmental observations with pure meteorological instinct.

By the way, this is only the second Super Bowl in history to be played on Groundhog Day. The only other one was on February 2, 2014 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. The Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos 43-8. That year, Punxsutawney Phil predicted a long winter.

It certainly was for the Broncos.