South Florida sizzler: Weekend heat index could hit 107, forecasters say

The Port Charlotte area picked up 3.33 inches of rain Wednesday, according to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network. An observer outside of Sebring, in Highlands County, reported a hefty 4.48 inches.

Other areas around the peninsula had a trace to around a quarter of an inch. The National Weather Service in Miami said moisture from ex-Tropical Storm Beryl was streaming over South Florida Wednesday and Thursday, but the heaviest convection was off-shore and farther east into the Bahamas.

Still, South Florida rain chances were in the 30-40 percent range Thursday and Friday; 20-30 percent in East-Central and West-Central Florida; and no mention of rain in the forecast for North Florida until the weekend, when chances rise to 40 percent.

Over South Florida, the story this weekend should be summer heat, the National Weather Service in Miami says, with heat index values of up to 107 degrees in interior areas of the West Coast and 105 degrees in western metro areas of the East Coast.

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The remnants of Tropical Storm Beryl brought showers to the Bahamas Wednesday but showed no signs of redeveloping a surface circulation, the National Hurricane Center said. (Image credit: NHC)

TROPICS WATCH: Chris was downgraded to a 60 mph tropical storm Thursday and forecasters said it could become post-tropical by Thursday night as it races toward the northeast at 35 mph. It was expected to bring some stormy weather to Newfoundland during the overnight hours. Ex-Beryl, which brought showers to the Bahamas on Wednesday, was forecast to follow the same path as Chris well off the U.S. Coast. It had a 50 percent chance of regenerating over five days.

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UK COOL TO WARMING: Only about a quarter of the British public are concerned about global warming, a National Centre for Social Research survey reported Wednesday. And although most people in the United Kingdom believe the climate is warming, only a third blame human activity.

As in the U.S., opinions vary by age group. Of those in the 18-34 group, 32 percent are worried, while 23 percent of those in the 35-64 age group are worried. Of those 65 and older, only 20 percent are concerned.

Americans take the issue more seriously, according to a Gallup Poll released in May. Among those 18-34, 51 believe climate change will pose a serious threat in their lifetime, compared with 47 percent of those 35-54 and 29 percent over age 55. A majority of all age groups believe climate change is being caused by human activity, but it’s higher in the younger age bracket — 75 percent.

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Chris becomes season’s second hurricane; Naples hits record high at 96

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UPDATE: Chris became the second hurricane of the season Tuesday with winds of 85 mph. The National Hurricane Center predicted it would become a Category 2 storm with winds of 100 mph by early Wednesday before post-tropical by Thursday. It poses no threat to U.S. land areas. (Image Credit: NHC)

With Chris headed out to sea — it may clip the eastern tip of Newfoundland on Friday — and ex-Beryl aiming for the Central Bahamas and points north, Florida weather is following its typical summertime plot line. And that means heat.

It was 96 in Naples Monday, which tied a record high originally set in 2004. The heat index in Naples was 109 degrees at 4 p.m.

Even in Key West, which often enjoys the moderating effects of ocean breezes, the heat index was 103 at 3 p.m.

Other heat index values around the peninsula: Miami, 100; Fort Lauderdale, 101; Fort Myers, 100; Punta Gorda, Gainesville and Melbourne, 99; West Palm Beach, 98 and Orlando, 95.

It doesn’t look particularly promising in terms of widespread rainfall through the rest of the week, with precipitation chances in the 20 percent range in Tampa through Friday, 30 percent in South Florida, and 20-30 percent in East-Central Florida. In the Jacksonville forecast, there’s no mention of rain at all until Friday.

Double-check those irrigation systems!

RAINFALL REPORT: Monday’s winner was in Alachua County northeast of Gainesville, where an observer for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network measured 2.29 inches. An observer in Central Citrus County southeast of Crystal River measured 1.76 inches. Most areas of South Florida were dry and rainfall elsewhere was light.

TROPICS WATCH: The National Hurricane Center expects Tropical Storm Chris to become the season’s second hurricane Tuesday afternoon with winds of 80 mph. Forecasters expect it to top out as a 90-mph storm late Wednesday before transitioning into a post-tropical system late in the week over colder water.

No coastal watches or warnings were issued by the NHC. Eastern Nova Scotia had a 5-10 percent chance of getting tropical storm force winds from Chris, while the eastern tip of Newfoundland had a 60 percent chance.

As for ex-Beryl, the National Weather Service in Miami issued a statement on the system late Monday. “At this time none of the guidance and overall conditions favor the potential development of tropical wave Beryl to be a concern for South Florida despite the 50 percent chance of development as it approaches the central Bahamas, ” Pablo Santos, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Miami said.

“The potential development region remains well to our east and upper level flow pattern favors it turning north well east of us. We will continue to monitor this closely and should this perspective change we will let you know.”

Tropical Storm Beryl ‘unlikely’ to impact Florida, forecasters say

Tropical Storm Beryl forms in Atlantic

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UPDATE: The depression was upgraded to Tropical Storm Beryl by the National Hurricane Center at 2:30 p.m. By 5 p.m., forecasters were predicting that Beryl would become the season’s first hurricane on Saturday morning. Nevertheless, they continue to expect dissipation by Monday as it rolls over the Lesser Antilles. Forecast tracks, meanwhile, have shifted south into the Caribbean. (Image credit: NHC)

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The season’s second tropical depression formed in the Central Atlantic Thursday and forecasters at the National Hurricane Center predicted it would become the second named storm of the year by Friday. But they said it would be short-lived due to high wind shear near the Lesser Antilles. They predicted dissipation by Monday. “Even though the cyclone is expected to dissipate east of the Lesser Antilles early next week, the remnant tropical wave will continue moving quickly westward, likely bringing locally heavy rains and gusty winds to portions of the Leeward Islands on Sunday and Monday,” Hurricane Specialist Robbie Berg said in the storm’s first forecast discussion. 

Invest 95L

‘VERY UNLIKELY’: The National Weather Service sums up the potential threat posed to Florida by Invest 95L in the Atlantic by noting that major forecast models call for the system to dissipate once it reaches the Lesser Antilles. Early Thursday morning, the National Hurricane Center was giving the disturbance a 70 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression — or possibly Tropical Storm Beryl — as it moves west-northwest in the Central Atlantic. A second low south of Bermuda had a 30-40 percent chance of developing as it moves toward the north. If both would develop, the next name on the 2018 list is Chris.

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Nature went toe-to-toe with fireworks displays on Wednesday as an upper level low whipped up strong storms accompanied by a lightning show that lasted through the evening hours.

Thunderstorms ripped across Florida’s East Coast in the early morning hours of Thursday, too, dumping as much as 1.77 inches of rain in West Palm Beach.

Southwest Florida was hammered on the holiday, with Fort Myers officially picking up 3.56 inches. Tampa reported 1.47 inches and inland, in Hendry County, an observer reported 2.32 inches to the National Weather Service in Miami.

East-Central Florida saw some soakers as well. Parts of Putnam County and Brevard County were hit with around 2.5 inches of rain.

Thursday was expected to be a carbon copy of Wednesday, with afternoon storms slamming South Florida and Central Florida.

Starting on Sunday, there’s a potential for “a slightly drier air mass” to take control in South Florida, NWS forecasters said in their Thursday morning analysis from Miami. They noted that tropical waves moving in from the Atlantic could push rain chances back above normal again next week.

Although it seems likely that 95L will get dismantled by strong wind shear near the Lesser Antilles, the GFS suggests that some of the moisture associated with it could eventually wash into the Florida peninsula.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for normal levels of precipitation in Florida from July 10-18.

Florida Fourth forecast: Low pressure sloshes in from Atlantic

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TROPICS PERK UP: National Hurricane Center forecasters upped chances of development for the system southeast of Bermuda in the Atlantic from 30 percent to 50 percent Tuesday night. At the same time, they began tracking a tropical wave in the eastern Atlantic, giving it a 20 percent chance of development over the next five days. It may encounter more hostile conditions as it nears the islands over the weekend, forecasters said. The next name on the list is Beryl, followed by Chris. (Image credit: NHC)

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Water spouts

NEW TWIST: The National Weather Service in Tampa is reporting an uptick in waterspouts forming just off-shore in the Gulf of Mexico. They’re most apt to form in the mid- to late-morning, according to forecasters, as storms begin to develop along the land breeze off the beach. Waterspouts are also a fairly common occurrence in the Keys. Needless to say: Amscray if you see one heading toward shore. (Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

Will thunder compete with the snap-crackle-pop of fireworks over the holiday on Wednesday?

Rain chances over the Florida peninsula tick up as we head into mid-week, the National Weather Service says, with an upper level low arriving from the Atlantic. Precipitation probabilities stay in the 50 percent range on the East Coast for the afternoon and may be around 30-40 percent at fireworks time on Wednesday, forecasters said.

The West Coast is looking at rain chances of about 60 percent. Forecasts show a little drier weather in the Keys.

“Both of the GFS and the ECMWF show the upper level low slowly drifting across the Florida peninsula at least through Thursday, which will allow for the enhanced moisture and the high rain chances to continue,” forecasters in Miami said in their Tuesday morning forecast discussion.

This low is distinct from the one expected to form southwest of Bermuda by Thursday. That’s the one getting some attention from the National Hurricane Center, where forecasters give it a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or tropical storm as it moves west and then northwest off the U.S. Coast.

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RAINFALL REPORT: Wet spots through 7 a.m. Tuesday include 2.35 inches east of Clearwater in Pinellas County; 2.25 inches on the east side of Naples in Collier County; 1.57 inches just north of Pensacola in Escambia County; and 1.51 inches north of Tampa off I-275. Data via Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network.

RECORD WATCH: The official low in Melbourne on Monday was 79, which broke the record for warmest low for the date. The previous record was 77 set in 1998.

Forecasters predict record holiday heat; rain may move into Florida

Max heat index

RED HOT HOLIDAY FORECAST: Here’s an interesting look at projected heat index values for the holiday on Wednesday.  Note that there are a few areas in Tennessee and southern Illinois where the heat index may be over 110 degrees. In Florida, meanwhile, it looks like we’ll be enjoying our usual 100-degree heat indices — minus any rainstorms that barrel in and cool things down. (Image credit: NOAA/ WPC)

A Saharan Air Layer (SAL) noses into Florida Saturday, but its effects — hazy skies and dry weather — will be most pronounced on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

But while the Eastern U.S. sizzles over the Fourth of July holiday, the SAL will exit the peninsula on Tuesday and a new batch of moisture may move into Florida from the Atlantic, forecasters said in their Saturday morning weather discussion.

“It appears an upper low and associated surface inflection may move west toward Florida for the latter half of the week. This could lead to increased rain chances if the right setup evolves.”

Farther north into the Central Plains and Deep South, highs are forecast to be up to 20 degrees above average leading up to the holiday, national forecasters said.

“Records are possible across this expansive area. Excessive Heat Warnings and Advisories will be common. Daytime maximum and overnight high-minimum temperature records are in jeopardy and widespread excessive heat warnings/watches and heat advisories are in effect from the Central Plains to the Ohio Valley and parts of the Northeast.”

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FLORIDA RAINFALL REPORT: The Treasure Coast was slammed with more than 2 inches of rain on Friday, and much heavier amounts were reported unofficially. The National Weather Service said the St. Lucie County Airport picked up 2.47 inches, while Melbourne International Airport reported 1.44 inches. Daytona Beach measured 1.02 inches.

Unofficially, an observer for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network reported an incredible 6.45-inch deluge near Cocoa West. Inland, an observer near the Charles H. Bronson State Forest in Seminole County reported 3.59 inches.

Elsewhere, Friday rainfall amounts ranged from just a few hundredths of an inch up to a half-inch. But there were a couple of notable exceptions — an observer on the island of Palm Beach reported 2.54 inches to the National Weather Service in Miami. And the Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport measured 2.95 inches while Miami International reported 0.41 of an inch.

Which goes to show that forecasters can be right on target when they give a rainfall forecast and then add: “Isolated heavier amounts are possible.”

Jacksonville socked with record rainfall

Hefty rainfall was reported up and down the Florida peninsula Thursday, including a 1.52-inch deluge in Jacksonville — a record for the date.

The official total at Jacksonville busted the previous rainfall record for June 28 of 1.37 inches set in 2005.

Impressive amounts were reported elsewhere, including 1.40 in Cross City and 2.27 inches in Punta Gorda.

Amounts of over 2 inches were reported by observers for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network in the Tallahassee area; parts of Alachua County southwest of Gainesville; and northeastern Miami-Dade County.

An observer in Boynton Beach, in Palm Beach County, reported 3.26 inches to the National Weather Service in Miami.

Forecasters said a repeat of Thursday’s activity was expected on Friday, with more focus on interior and West Coast areas over the weekend as Saharan air noses into the Florida peninsula from the east.

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Red Tide

RED TIDE FISH KILL: Karenia brevis problems continued Friday for some West Coast beaches. The website Visitbeaches.org reported heavy concentrations of dead fish at Manasota Beach near South Venice.  Check the website for specific information, since the effects are patchy, according to the National Weather Service in Tampa. (Image credit: NWS-Tampabay)

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TROPICS WATCH: The Canadian forecast model (CMC) doesn’t get much respect for its record on tropical storm prediction. But Friday morning’s run of the model showed a low developing between Bermuda and the northwestern Bahamas on July 4. It has it moving toward the Central Florida Coast, fairly weak, by the weekend, after which it crosses the peninsula into the Gulf of Mexico.

None of the other forecast models — including the GFS and the European (ECMWF) reflect this scenario. But a National Weather Service forecaster had this to say Friday morning from Miami: “By the middle of next week, the GFS and ECMWF show a deep-layered trough moving westward in the western Atlantic between Bermuda and the southeast U.S. coast.

“The GFS had it moving a little faster and closer to Florida compared to yesterday`s 12Z ECMWF. If the GFS were to be correct, then it would enhance moisture, along with widespread showers and storms around day seven.

“However, at this time, my thinking is to lean more with the ECMWF, which is also in line with the latest WPC [Weather Prediction Center] forecast chart for Thursday of next week, which depicts a trough well offshore the southeastern U.S., farther from Florida.”

The National Hurricane Center is forecasting no tropical development through July 4.

Red Tide impacts Florida’s Southwest Coast; wild winds in Gainesville

Harmful Algae Bloom

FLORIDA RED TIDE ALERT: Harmful algae may cause respiratory problems for some beachgoers in Sarasota County and northern Lee County through Thursday, according to the National Weather Service in Tampa. Symptoms include coughing, sneezing and tearing eyes. People with asthma are particularly sensitive. Red Tide is caused by the rapid growth of a microscopic algae species called Karenia brevis. Check out NOAA’s up-to-date forecast for more info. (Image credit: NOAA)

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GATOR GUST: A record high wind gust was recorded Wednesday in Gainesville — 53 mph at 3:50 p.m., according to the National Weather Service in Jacksonville. It broke the old record gust for the date of 41 mph set on June 27 2004.

The city picked up almost an inch of rain along with the windy weather.

It’s the second time this month Gainesville has recorded a wind gust over 50 mph. A gust of 54 mph was measured on June 17.

The record wind gust for June in Gainesville is 64 mph set on June 17, 2011.

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PARTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF ROMAN CANDLES: The Independence Day forecasts are in! Turns out most folks around the Florida peninsula are going to be celebrating the nation’s 242nd birthday amid partly sunny/ partly cloudy skies and hot conditions, with a chance of afternoon showers and thunderstorms.

Which is a forecast that could have been made with a fairly high degree of confidence several months ago.

Here are the specifics:

Key West, partly sunny with a high near 90 and a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Miami, partly sunny with a high near 88 with a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Melbourne, mostly sunny with a high near 88 and a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms.

Orlando, partly sunny with a high near 91 with a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Tampa, partly sunny with a high in the low 90s with a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms. Jacksonville, partly sunny with a high near 92 with a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Tallahassee, partly sunny with a high near 93 and a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms.

Sense a pattern here?

Happy Fourth!

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Tropical potential

TROPICS WATCH: The tropics are clear for the next five days. However, the National Weather Service in Miami says long-term forecast models “hint” that a low near Bermuda could move west and develop “a low-level reflection” late next week. “This is too far out to speculate as to whether it will cause an increase in moisture or chances for stronger thunderstorms,” forecasters said in their Thursday discussion. (Image credit: NWS-Key West)