February-type temps expected over holiday weekend

NOAA upgrades Hurricane Michael to Category 5 in new post-season analysis

PHOTO - Hurricane Michael

(Image credit: NOAA)

Last fall’s Hurricane Michael has been upgraded to a Category 5 at landfall — making it the first Category 5 storm to make landfall in the U.S. since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Michael hit the coast with winds of 160 mph on October 10, 2018 near Mexico Beach, Florida.

The upgrade, made after “a detailed post-storm analysis” and announced Friday, also makes Michael one of only four Category 5 storms to strike the U.S. in recorded history. The others are the Labor Day Hurricane in 1935 and Hurricane Camille in 1969.

“Michael is also the strongest hurricane landfall on record in the Florida Panhandle and only the second known Category 5 landfall on the northern Gulf coast,” NOAA said in a news release.

“Category 5 winds were likely experienced over a very small area at and near the coast, and the change in estimated wind speeds is of little practical significance in terms of the impacts associated with the storm. Michael produced devastating winds and storm surge and was directly responsible for 16 deaths and about $25 billion in damage in the United States.”

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Gulf satellite

(Image credit: NOAA)

The cold front expected to rip across the Florida peninsula was developing in the Gulf of Mexico early Friday morning. A Coastal Flood advisory was in effect for the West Coast, along with high surf producing “very dangerous conditions” along the Gulf Coast.

In East-Central Florida, a High Wind Advisory was in effect until 10 p.m. Forecasters said winds could gust up to 40 mph, except during thunderstorms, when they could gust “in excess” of 60 mph.

Heavy rain was possible anywhere on the peninsula. Look for a roundup of rainfall totals on Saturday. Fingers crossed for no severe weather or damaging storms.

EASTER SUNDAY: Since the holiday is so late this year, we might have expected steamy, tropical weather for Easter, but that will not be the case. Sunday’s forecast high in Miami is only 76 after a morning low of 66, with pleasant, dry air taking hold. The normal high in Miami is 84 and the normal low is 69.

West Palm Beach is forecast to start the day out at 60, which is the normal low for February 18.

Sunday morning’s Orlando temperature should sink to around 54 degrees, and reach a high of 79 under clear skies.

Tampa’s forecast low for Sunday morning is 57, with an expected high of 76.

In Jacksonville, wake-up weather looks like a rather chilly 51 degrees, but under lots of sun the forecast high is 77.

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RECORD WATCH: Naples tied a record high Thursday with 90, matching a record originally set in 1989. It was 89 in Marathon, which tied a record set in 2013 and 2015.

DROUGHT WATCH: Abnormally Dry conditions spread east across the panhandle in the new report by the U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday. Dry conditions are now as far south and east as Levy County. The five western counties in the panhandle, from Escambia east to Holmes County, remain under Moderate Drought.

The only Abnormally Dry conditions on the peninsula are in Indian River and Brevard counties.

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Severe weather possible statewide on Friday, forecasters say

Daytona Beach breaks 90-year-old temperature record

Friday storm potential

(Image credit: NOAA/ SPC)

It’s early in the week and things can change, but most of the Florida peninsula is at risk for severe weather for Friday into Friday night, according to NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center.

The official forecast is for a “Slight” risk for the state, which translates to a 15 percent possibility of strong storms.

The SPC risk categories range from Marginal to Slight to Enhanced to Moderate to High. The strong storm system that is expected to sweep through the southern Great Lakes around mid-week will bring some Enhanced chances of severe weather possibilities to Texas, Arkansas and Missouri before targeting the East Coast on Friday and Saturday.

National Weather Service in Melbourne: “A trailing strong cold front is forecast to cross the forecast area during the day Friday into Friday evening, accompanied by a band of strong to possibly severe storms.” They added: “The primary threat should be straight line winds.”

NWS Jacksonville: “Models are also showing widespread rainfall amounts of 1-2 inches of rain, so minor flooding cannot be ruled out as well. Strong and isolated severe storms are likely to move through the region on Friday, especially if the storms come through during the time of peak heating, with all modes of severe weather possible.”

Unusually warm temperatures should be the rule around Florida until the cold front arrives, with highs in the 90s on the West Coast and in interior areas.

More record warm low temperatures were broken on Sunday. The low in Daytona Beach was only 72, which busted a record that had been on the books for 90 years. The old record warm low was 71 set on April 14, 1929.

Also:

  • Orlando had a low of 71, which beat the old mark of 70 set in in 1974.
  • Melbourne’s low of 74 was a degree warmer than the 73-degree record set in 2014.
  • Vero Beach set a record with 75, a degree warmer than the old record of 74 set in 1980.
  • Fort Pierce’s low of 74 beat a record low of 73 set way back in 1948.
  • Jacksonville’s low of 70 tied a record set in 1947.
  • Gainesville’s low of 72 broke a record of 70 set in 1994.
  • In South Florida, Miami’s low of 78 tied a record set in 1975.
  • Fort Lauderdale’s 79 degree low beat the previous record warm low of 77 set in 2015.
  • Naples’ low of 74 was a degree warmer than the old record of 73 set in 1978.
  • And in the Keys, Marathon’s low of 82 was a degree warmer than the previous record of 81 set in 2013. That 82 is also the warmest low so far this year anywhere in Florida.

Gainesville ties 111-year-old heat record; early week cold front to bring cooler temps

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(Image credit: NOAA/ SPC)

The storm system that’s causing all the messy weather in the central part of the U.S. could trigger some severe storms in the Florida panhandle and in North Florida on Sunday, the Storm Prediction Center says. But forecasters say the system is expected to move so quickly to the northeast that it won’t have much energy left by the time its associated cold front gets into Central and South Florida.

One good thing about the storm system: It’s expected to bring more seasonal conditions to the Florida peninsula.

“A noticeably drier (and ever so slightly cooler) air mass will spill into (South Florida) Monday night into Tuesday as high pressure builds into the area,” National Weather Service forecasters in Miami said Saturday.

CFL temps

(Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

After blistering temperatures near 90 around the Florida peninsula Friday and Saturday, April-appropriate weather looks to be on the way by the middle of next week.

The forecast low Tuesday morning in Orlando and Tampa: 61 degrees; Gainesville: 54; Lake City, 51; and Jacksonville, 56. Even interior areas of South Florida are forecast to sink into the low 60s.

RECORD WATCH: Friday’s high in Gainesville was 92, which tied a record for the date, set 111 years ago in 1908. Another record high was set in Marathon with 90 degrees, beating the previous record of 89 set in 2013.

El Niño likely to stretch into peak of the hurricane season, forecasters say

The weak El Niño in the tropical Pacific is likely to continue through the fall, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said Thursday in a forecast that has implications for the 2019 hurricane season.

Forecasters put summer El Niño chances at 65 percent, up from 60 percent in last month’s assessment, and 50-55 percent for fall, the agency’s first El Niño forecast for autumn. Since El Niño conditions have the effect of increasing wind shear in the Atlantic, it could keep tropical storm formation down into the peak of the season, which is August through October.

The Australia Bureau of Meteorology issues its updated El Niño outlook on Tuesday, but an analysis earlier this month predicted that warmer than average Pacific temperatures will “remain at El Niño levels at least to mid-year.”

Hurricane forecasters have been predicting a slightly below average hurricane season for 2019.

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RECORD WATCH: The high in Marathon Thursday was 88, tying a record for the date, originally set in 2008.

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Sunday panhandle storms

(Image credit: NWS-Tallahassee)

Strong storms are possible in the Florida panhandle on Sunday, NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center says.

Most of the western and central portions of the panhandle are under a “Slight” risk for severe weather — one step up from Marginal. But an “Enhanced” risk was posted for parts of Alabama and Georgia just north of the panhandle.

Most of the northern and central Florida peninsula are at risk for garden variety thunderstorms. South Florida was left out of the risk area completely on Friday, although forecasters said a thunderstorm or two “can’t be ruled out.”

The front that’s poised to bring the severe weather risk may deliver some slightly cooler air to the peninsula early next week, but it won’t last long, according to the National Weather Service.

“Any cooling and drying will be modest and short-lived as southeasterly flow will return by Wednesday,” NWS forecasters in Miami said Friday.

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DOOMED ON THE MOON: Israel’s SpaceIL mission to the moon — a private company’s effort to land a spacecraft on the surface — ended in disappointment Thursday when the ship crash-landed. The lunar lander, called Beresheet, had been tasked with carrying out scientific measurements.

“As the spacecraft approached the moon, SpaceIL lost contact with Beresheet several times,” The Jerusalem Post reported Friday. “The scientists kept hope as the connection was restored, but just minutes before the spacecraft was supposed to touch down, contact was lost once again and it crashed on the moon.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Israel would keep trying.

Rains wash away all South Florida drought concerns

The Abnormally Dry conditions that have been plaguing South Florida during the winter and early spring have been officially wiped off the map, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported Thursday.

But dry conditions linger in Brevard and Volusia County in East-Central Florida.

The Drought Monitor said Moderate Drought continues in the western Florida panhandle, while the northern tier of Florida counties remain Abnormally Dry.

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JAX boat show weather

(Image credit: NWS-Jacksonville)

HOT FOR THE YACHTS: The forecast is for partly sunny conditions with a steamy high near 88 for the Jacksonville In-Water Boat Show this weekend at Metropolitan Park. But there’s a chance of thunderstorms after 2 p.m. on Sunday. The National Weather Service office will have a booth staffed with meteorologists from the Jacksonville office to answer weather-related questions.

The Storm Prediction Center, meanwhile, has placed the western and central panhandle under a Slight Risk of severe storms on Sunday as the next cold front enters the state.

Rain chances rise to 30 percent all the way down to the southern peninsula.

“This cold front will bring only slightly less warm conditions and somewhat drier weather for Tuesday, before southeasterly winds, moisture, and more above normal temperatures return for the latter half of the week,” National Weather Service forecasters in Miami said Thursday.

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RECORD WATCH: Wednesday was the first day in April that no weather records were set or tied in Marathon. The city in the Middle Keys tied or set temperature records for the first eight days, and a rainfall record was set for the ninth day of the month on Tuesday.

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statewidetavgrank-201903

(Image credit: NOAA/ NCEI)

HERE’S A SWITCH: Usually climatologists are talking about record warmth. But it turns out that nationwide, March was the 44th coolest on record in the U.S. in 125 years of record keeping, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information said this week. Florida had slightly above average minimum temperatures, but close to average temperatures overall.

Only Arizona and New Mexico had above average temperatures, while Washington, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Kentucky had below average temperatures.

However, Florida has had its ninth-warmest year so far (January through March), according to the NCEI analysis.

Nationally, “the year to date (January-March) is running just below average, as the 61st coldest in 125 years of record keeping,” Bob Henson noted in a Weather Underground Category 6 post. “The last time that the contiguous U.S. got off to this cool of a start was in 2014.”

“The bulk of the heartland cold in 2019 unfolded during February and March, ushered in by the ‘polar vortex’ outbreak at the end of January,” he said.

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ONE SMALL STEP FOR A ROBOT: The first private company is scheduled to land a space craft on the moon today, carrying with it a robot that will measure the magnetic field.

The venture was engineered by an Israeli company called SpaceIL which will live-stream the landing at 3 p.m. Thursday.

The lander is called Beresheet after the first word of the Hebrew Bible, which means “in the beginning.” It went into lunar orbit on April 4.

Marathon posts record rainfall; forecasters predict 90 in Orlando by Friday

Caribbean water vapor 041019

The Florida peninsula was drying out on Wednesday from the northwest as the moisture that caused Tuesday’s rains moved off into the Atlantic. (Image credit: NOAA)

RAINFALL REPORT: The system from the Gulf of Mexico delivered some soaking rains to extreme southern Florida and the Keys on Tuesday, but many people in areas to the north just had wet windshields — or posted precipitation goose-eggs.

Even official totals in Miami-Dade and Broward counties were modest. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International picked up just 0.14 of an inch while Miami International reported 0.43 of an inch.

Naples measured 0.28 of an inch and only a trace of rain fell in West Palm Beach.

The South Florida rainfall winner was Homestead in Miami-Dade, where 1.63 inches was reported to the National Weather Service in Miami.

The heaviest rain seemed to hit from Homestead south into the Keys. Marathon picked up 0.95 of an inch, which set a daily rainfall record for April 9. The previous record was 0.54 of an inch set in 1993. Interesting to note that this was the 10th record in a row for Marathon this month — temperature records were set every day prior to the rainfall record.

Most locations in the Keys reported around a half-inch or a little more.

Southwest Florida, including Sarasota, reported about a quarter of an inch through CoCoRaHS, although an inland observer in Hillsborough County found more than a half-inch in his backyard bucket.

Officially, the National Weather Service measured 0.34 of an inch in Tampa, and 0.27 of an inch in Punta Gorda.

On the East-Central coast, Daytona Beach received 0.28 of an inch but Melbourne reported just a trace of rain and Vero Beach was dry.

In North Florida, Jacksonville received 0.31 of an inch and Gainesville measured a tenth of an inch.

Scattered showers are possible on Wednesday before things start to dry out Wednesday night and into Thursday, the National Weather Service said.

Next up: Near-record warm temperatures up and down the peninsula. Friday’s forecast highs include 90 in Orlando; 88 in Tampa; 90 in Fort Myers; and upper 80s on Florida’s southeast coast.

Forecasters see sizzling weekend weather after storms exit peninsula

Continental US - Shortwave Window - IR

Storms from the Gulf of Mexico were poised to move into the Florida peninsula early Tuesday morning. There was a “Marginal” risk of severe weather, according to NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center. (Image credit: NOAA)

Following Tuesday’s nasty weather — with rain possibilities stretching into Wednesday — the end-of-week weather story can be summed up in one word: Heat.

From South Florida and the Keys north to Orlando and over to Brooksville, the National Weather Service is forecasting highs near 90 over the weekend.

Although Tuesday’s wet conditions were associated with a cold front rolling across the peninsula from the Gulf of Mexico, there’s no cold air behind the front, the National Weather Service said.

“Temperatures on either side of it will remain above normal,” NWS forecasters said in their daily analysis from Miami. “Naples has been setting daily maxima records since the weekend and it appears record warm minima were set Monday along the east coast.

“This trend of near record-breaking warmth may persist through the bulk of the week, especially with a couple of days of westerly flow reducing cooling impact of Atlantic breeze across the east coast urban corridor.”

They added: “With humid conditions and heat indices likely reaching into the 90s Friday through the weekend, the warm temperatures may be the main weather story.”

Some cooler air may arrive early next week, according to forecasts.

Meanwhile, a lot of records were set or tied on Monday. Here’s the rundown:

  • The low in Marathon was a sultry 81 degrees. That easily smashed the previous record warm low for April 8 of 78, set one year ago. Marathon has set or tied a record warm high or record warm minimum every day so far this month. Also, 81 is the warmest low temperature recorded so far in 2019 for anywhere in Florida.
  • Key West’s low was 79, which busted the old record low for the date of 78, set in 2011.
  • The high was 89 in Naples, tying a record set in 2015. It was the third day in a row a record was set or tied in Naples.
  • The low in Fort Lauderdale was 77, which broke the record warm low of 76 set in 2003.
  • Monday’s low was 75 in West Palm Beach, tying a record warm low set in 2015.
  • In East-Central Florida, Melbourne set a record warm low with 72, beating the old record of 71 set in 1994.
  • Vero Beach tied a record warm low with 73. It was originally set in 2003.

RAINFALL REPORT: Most of the action on Monday was in the Daytona Beach area, where some CoCoRaHS observers reported more than 2 inches. In Inland Volusia County near Deland, an observer checked in with 1.40 inches.

Officially, Daytona Beach recorded 1.75 inches, according to the National Weather Service in Melbourne.

Parts of eastern Flagler County received up to 1.31 inches; and northeastern Sumter County near The Villages reported up to an inch.

To the south in Okeechobee County, an observer near Basinger measured 1.25 inches.

CFL high end rain chances

PREDICTED PRECIP: High end rain chances in Central Florida, above, and high-end chances in South Florida, below. The National Weather Service said Tuesday’s totals would be very localized. (Image credits: NWS-Melbourne, above; NWS-Miami, below)

SFL high end rain chances