All-time February temperature records tied or broken in Tampa, Melbourne

CFL hi temps Tuesday

Highs in southwest Florida are forecast to reach 90 on Tuesday. (Credit: NWS-TampaBay)

It was a scorching 88 degrees in Tampa on Monday — setting a new record for the date and tying a record for the warmest temperature ever recorded in February.

The old record high for February 19 was 86, set in 1997. The all-time February high of 88 was previously set on February 26, 1971.

Sarasota set record high with 87, breaking the previous mark of 86 set in 1990.

Across the state, Melbourne’s low of 73 smashed the previous record warm low for the date of 69 set in 1949. The low is also the warmest minimum temperature ever recorded during the month of February in Melbourne, according to the National Weather Service.

More record warmth was possible Tuesday and Wednesday, forecasters said.

Tuesday morning’s run of the GFS model continues to suggest some cooler temperatures arriving in Florida during the first week of March, although the Climate Prediction Center is still calling for above normal temperatures in Florida through March 5.

Cold temperatures are not unheard of in March — Miami’s all-time March low is 32, for example; ditto in Fort Lauderdale. The all-time March low in West Palm Beach is 26; 33 in Naples. After the first week of the month, though, most record lows in South Florida are in the 40s.

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Excessive rainfall outlook

The nation’s mid-section is in for some very heavy rain through Wednesday. (Credit: NOAA/ WPC)

FLOODING RAINS FORECAST: While high pressure maintains its grip on Florida, moisture from the Gulf of Mexico is sweeping up into the Central U.S., bringing rains of up to 7 inches or more through the Mississippi Valley from Arkansas north to Illinois and Indiana, according to NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center.

A swath from northeastern Texas through Arkansas and up to St. Louis is under a Moderate Risk for very heavy rainfall, as well as northeastern Illinois, northwestern Indiana and southeastern Michigan.

The rain is expected to fall through Wednesday night.

In Florida, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for below normal precipitation through at least March 5. February is likely to end with rainfall deficits throughout the peninsula, with the possible exception of the Tampa area, which was hit with heavy rain at the start of the month.

 

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Vero Beach ties record high; South Florida scientists turn mosquito matchmakers

Satellite image FL

IN THE CLEAR: Friday’s satellite image tells the tale: Florida is under a large area of high pressure that’s keeping cold fronts and other nasty weather to the north. The spring-like conditions are forecast to continue for the foreseeable future, with highs in the 80s around most of the peninsula and lows only in the low- to mid-70s on Florida’s southeast coast. The weekend looks toasty everywhere — including Central Florida and the East-Central Coast. (Image credits: NOAA, above; NWS-Melbourne, below)

CFL weekend forecast

RECORD WATCH: Friday’s high in Vero Beach was 84, which tied a record high for the date set in 1987.

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Aedes_aegypti_biting_human

Scientists are trying to take a bite out of the South Florida mosquito population with a program that introduces males into the community that are unable to produce offspring. The release will intensify as we head toward the rainy season. (Image credit: United States Department of Agriculture via Wikimedia Commons)

HERE’S THE BUZZ: South Florida folks are slapping and swatting throughout the year, since mosquitoes are a nuisance in any season. But the Zika outbreak has prompted researchers to take an unprecedented approach to reducing the population — by releasing more mosquitoes.

Not just any mosquitoes, however. These are males infected with a bacterium, Wolbachia pipientis, which prevents offspring from developing after an infected (and imported) bug mates with a member of the local female population.

The release began last week in South Miami and it’s expected to pick up as we approach the rainy season, according to WLRN Public Radio in Miami.

“They’re going to release approximately two-thirds of a billion male mosquitoes,” South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard told the station. “The way this works is you have to release a lot more of these males than existing natural males because you want these mosquitoes to be the ones to find the females, not the natural male. So you really have to swap out the natural male population and make it hard for our local male mosquitoes to get a date.”

The program will run at least until the end of July and perhaps beyond. The hope is to reduce the population of mosquitoes that carry diseases.

A pilot program was initiated last year in the Florida Keys, but on a very small-scale. A similar program was launched in Fresno, California last year as well. Determining its long-range effectiveness will likely take some time.

NOAA March forecast: More unusually warm and dry weather for Florida

A warm March for South Florida, left, was forecast by the Climate Prediction Center Thursday, while the 90-day precipitation forecast calls for dry conditions in all of Florida through May. (Credit: NOAA/ CPC)

Expect more above-normal temperatures in March, particularly in the southern half of the Florida peninsula, forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said in their new long-range forecast released Thursday.

After a cool January, February has been above-normal around the state — significantly warmer than usual in places like Orlando and Tampa — and it looks like the meteorological spring will pick up where winter leaves off on March 1. (Meteorological spring runs from March 1-May 31.)

Dry conditions are finally taking hold this month across the peninsula, and the CPC is calling for below-normal precipitation statewide, not only across the peninsula but in the panhandle as well, right into May.

In Miami, high temperatures average 79-82 in March; 76-80 in Orlando and 74-78 in Tampa.

As a result of last weekend’s torrential rains in the Florida panhandle, drought conditions eased dramatically in areas west of Tallahassee. But nine counties are still in — or partially in — Moderate Drought, according to the latest assessment by the U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday.

Severe Drought has disappeared, but much of the panhandle remains Abnormally Dry.

The peninsula has managed to avoid drought conditions this winter despite forecasts warning of drought development due to the La Niña in the tropical Pacific. But significant rainfall in January kept most of the state on an even keel.

That luck may be running out in February.

Miami and Naples are more than an inch behind in rainfall; and Fort Lauderdale’s and West Palm beach’s deficits are approaching an inch-and-a-half.

The Keys are about a half-inch to an inch short; and East-Central Florida locations are running deficits of around an inch. Tampa and a few areas on the West Coast, hammered by heavy rain the first weekend of the month, have slight precipitation surpluses for February.

SFL weekend forecast

Another spring-like weekend is on the horizon in South Florida. (Credit: NWS-Miami)

Florida pollen counts are nothing to sneeze at as record warmth continues

February’s spring-like weather in Florida has one big downside: Pollen counts are soaring, causing people with allergies to start their seasonal ritual of sneezing and wheezing.

As of Sunday, Central Florida had the highest pollen counts in the country, with the worst cities identified as Orlando, Tampa, and West Palm Beach. Tree pollens are the biggest culprit.

Allergy sufferers are also reaching for the medicine cabinet in Southern California, southern Arizona, and parts of Texas, although those pollen outbreaks are in the medium-high range, a little below Central Florida, according to Pollen.com.

Not surprisingly, 72 percent of the country is in low-pollen status as winter weather in northern latitudes continues unabated.

WFL forecast

(Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

And speaking of weather patterns continuing unabated, warm temperature records were challenged or broken up and down the Florida peninsula on Saturday, with another round likely Sunday.

“The stretch of warm weather will continue with afternoon highs once again near record levels,” the National Weather Service in Tampa said Sunday morning. “Scattered afternoon showers and storms are expected across interior portions of the peninsula this afternoon.

“Is summer here already?”

It was 84 in Tampa on Saturday, tying a record high set 86 years ago in 1932.

On the East Coast, Miami busted a record warm minimum temperature with an incredible low of 74 degrees — beating the old mark of 73 set in 1994. Melbourne also scored a record warm low at 72, smashing the previous record of 67 set in 1986.

Ditto for Vero Beach, where the low of 70 bumped off the previous mark of 68 set in 1982. Fort Pierce tied a record with a low of 70, previously set in 1939.

It doesn’t look like the warm weather is going anywhere. Sunday’s run of the GFS forecast model shows cold fronts getting deflected north of Florida through February 27. NOAA comes out with its new March forecast on Thursday, and it’s likely to show more above-normal temperatures and dry weather for the state, although cold fronts can — and do — often put a chill on early spring weather in Florida.

A disturbance moving up from the Florida Straits Sunday was expected to trigger showers and thunderstorms through the southern part of the peninsula, but then high pressure was forecast to build back in, according to the National Weather Service.

Highs could jump into the upper 80s in parts of South Florida on Monday, forecasters said.

SFL forecast

The official South Florida forecast is for highs in the 80s to continue all week. (Credit: NWS-Miami)

Tampa and Naples notch record highs; islands may ask Washington for storm aid

Tampa beat a 79-year-old high temperature record Friday with 86, besting the old record of 85 set in 1939. Also on Friday, Naples set a record high of 86, beating the previous record for the date set on February 9, 1965.

Several record warm lows were set on Friday as well. As Naples set a record high, the city also set a record warm low with 68, beating the previous mark of 67 set in 2008.

Fort Pierce also set a new record warm low Friday with 70, besting the old mark of 69 set in 1939.

Unofficially, two observation stations in Collier County topped out at 88 degrees Friday.

Expect more record warm lows on Florida’s East Coast — and record highs on the West Coast — over the weekend, the National Weather Service in Miami said.

forecast highs SFL

Full sunscreen alert for visitors to the Orlando attractions, where highs in the mid-80s are forecast this weekend. (Image credits: Above, NWS-Miami; below: NWS-Melbourne)

CFL weekend highs

FUN FEB FACT: February 10 is the first day of the year in which the record high temperature at West Palm Beach has hit 90. That happened in 1949. In Miami, the first 90-degree record high doesn’t occur until March 2; In Fort Lauderdale it’s February 14; Naples, March 8.

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TROPICS TALK: We’re more than three months away from the hurricane season in the continental U.S., but tropical weather is front and center in another part of the country — Hawaii and, to the southwest, American Samoa. The latter was smacked on Friday by Tropical Cyclone Gita, causing high winds, flooding and mudslides.

The U.S. Coast Guard closed the port at Pago Pago, the capital of the island chain. The National Weather Service office there was closed, and forecasts were being issued from Honolulu, according to Radio New Zealand.

The storm damaged homes and caused power outages. American Samoa Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga declared an emergency and said it was likely he’d ask for assistance from the U.S. government in Washington.

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KW radar upgrade

OFFLINE IN THE KEYS: The radar in Key West will be down next week for “a major upgrade,” the National Weather Service said. In the meantime, radar in Miami covers the Keys. (Credit: NWS-Key West)

Forecasts: Balmy spring weather may be followed by early start to hurricane season

ENSO forecast

Neutral ENSO conditions are in the forecast for this summer. What will that mean for the 2018 hurricane season? (Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

An unusually warm and dry spring in Florida — and an early start to the hurricane season — were among predictions issued by forecasters Thursday.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center released its monthly assessment of El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions in the tropical Pacific, calling for the current La Niña to transition to neutral conditions during the spring months.

Nevertheless, they see La Niña impacts on North America continuing into the spring season, translating to a March-May period in Florida with above normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation.

“The outlooks generally favor above-average temperatures and below-median precipitation across the southern tier of the United States, and below-average temperatures and above median precipitation across the northern tier of the United States,” CPC forecasters said.

At the same time, AccuWeather released its spring forecast Thursday, calling for dry conditions through April in Florida, after which “the dry pattern could be turned on its head come May, when an early tropical feature threatens to impact the region.”

AccuWeather forecaster Paul Pastelok warned about May tropical development in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the southwestern Atlantic.

“I do feel there’s going to be something popping up,” he said.

Early season tropical storms aren’t unusual in the Atlantic Basin — Tropical Storm Arlene formed last year on April 19. In 2016, Tropical Storm Bonnie formed on May 27 and in 2015, Tropical Storm Ana formed on May 8.

anoma.2.8.2018

(Image credit: NOAA/ NESDIS)

The latest sea surface temperature anomaly assessments by NOAA, also released Thursday, show a lot of below-normal water temperatures have built up off Florida’s coasts, as well as in the Gulf of Mexico and northwestern Caribbean.

After a cool January, high pressure has taken control this month over the southwestern Atlantic and Caribbean, and water temperatures can rise quickly if that pattern holds.

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RECORD WATCH: Melbourne busted a 61-year-old temperature record Thursday with a balmy low of 69. The previous record warm low was 68 set in 1957. The low in Naples was 68, which tied the record warm low set in 1986.

The high in Punta Gorda Thursday was 89; and it was 87 in Fort Myers. But both were short of records for the date.

‘Summertime pattern:’ Feb temps running up to 6 degrees above average

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Most of the eastern U.S. is forecast to be warmer than normal over the next two weeks. Warm weather continues to hang on in California and the West Coast as well, but the Upper Midwest may stay in the deep freeze. (Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

The warm spell that spread across much of the Florida peninsula this week started challenging records on Wednesday.

With brisk easterly winds off the Atlantic, there haven’t been any record highs on the state’s East Coast, but record warm lows are popping up. And the above-normal temperatures are forecast to continue through the weekend.

In fact, looking at Thursday’s GFS model runs from Tropical Tidbits, warm temperature anomalies in Florida span out to at least February 24. And NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for above-normal temps in Florida — and all of the southern U.S. — through March 2.

Data tell the tale.

With the first week of February in the books, Miami is running 4.6 degrees above average; Fort Lauderdale is at plus-2.6.; West Palm Beach, plus-5.2; and Naples, plus-4.9 degrees.

Naples tied a record high Wednesday with 86, matching a mark originally set in 1982.

Miami tied a record warm low with 72 — the record was first set back in 1972.

In East-Central Florida, Vero Beach tied a record warm low with 68, matching the record set in 2012.

And the warm temperature anomalies reach far to the north, with Daytona Beach running 4.6 degrees above average for the first week of the month; Melbourne an impressive plus-6.1 degrees; Vero Beach, plus-3.7; and Orlando, plus-3.7 degrees.

On the West Coast, Tampa is at a hefty plus-6.6 degrees; and Fort Myers, plus 4.6.

North Florida is running above average, too, but not to the same extent as Central and South Florida. Jacksonville is at plus-2.9 and Gainesville, plus-2.5.

The reason for the toasty temps is that Florida is under the influence of high pressure, and forecasters predict that will continue into next week.

“Rain chances will remain low with only a slight chance of showers concentrated over the interior along sea breezes, almost like a summertime pattern,” the National Weather Service in Miami said Thursday.