NOAA forecasts unusually hot May in Florida; drought conditions continue

TS Arlene

On Friday morning, Tropical Storm Arlene had strengthened slightly with winds of 50 mph. It was moving just south of due west at 31 mph. Arlene, the first named storm of the 2017 hurricane season, was still forecast to dissipate later on Friday. (Credit: NHC)

ANNOUNCING ARLENE: “I have to add one more surprise to my long hurricane forecasting career,” National Hurricane Center forecaster Lixion Avila said a late Thursday NHC advisory. “Unexpectedly, the subtropical cyclone became a tropical depression this morning, and then it intensified to a tropical storm.” So Tropical Storm Arlene did materialize after all, a very early named system that should boost totals for the season — although a quiet 2017 has been predicted.

“Tropical storms in April are rare and Arlene is only the second one observed in this month during the satellite era,” Avila said. “It should be noted, however, that this type of storm was practically impossible to detect prior to the weather satellite era.”

Tropical Storm Arlene had sustained winds of 45 mph and was moving west-northwest. It was still forecast to become extra-tropical on Friday.

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May forecast temps

LATE-SPRING SIZZLER: Brace for a red-hot May across all of Florida, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said Thursday. The agency called for above normal temperatures across all of the U.S. southern states, with the highest chances for above-average heat in the Desert Southwest as well as Florida, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. May 15 is usually the start of the rainy season in South Florida, but NOAA hedged its bets on Florida precipitation predictions, calling for equal chances for above-normal, below-normal or average May rainfall. (Credit: NOAA/ CPC)

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Palm Beach International Airport received only its second measurable April rainfall on Wednesday — 0.11 of an inch — as a quick stream of spotty showers continued sweeping into the peninsula from the Atlantic. The shower brought the West Palm Beach April rainfall total up to 0.12 of an inch, 2.35 inches below normal for the month.

No rain was reported in Miami or Naples, and Fort Lauderdale had a trace.

A weather observer in Boynton Beach reported an unofficial total of 0.68 of an inch.

Areas of Northwest Florida received almost a third of an inch of rain and precipitation was also reported in the panhandle on Wednesday.

Rain chances disappear from the South Florida forecast for the early part of the weekend, but then jump to 20 percent Sunday and 40 percent Monday.

Drought Monitor
Florida drought conditions as of April 18. (Credit: U.S. Drought Monitor)

Drought conditions in Florida remained virtually unchanged this week, with a small area of extreme Northeastern Florida going from Moderate Drought to Severe Drought, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor analysis.

Much of the southern peninsula remains in Severe Drought, with Moderate Drought over southern parts of the Everglades and Abnormally Dry conditions in place over most of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

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Earth Day in the Keys

EARTH DAY IN THE KEYS: Saturday’s the big day at Bahia Honda State Park, where National Weather Service meteorologists will be on hand to answer questions. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Credit: NWS-Key West)

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Diminishing winds forecast with slight chance of rain, but no drought relief in sight

It’s been good kite flying weather — assuming your string didn’t break and your kite ended up somewhere on Sanibel Island.

Winds were clipping along out of the east at a fairly brisk pace on Saturday, with a gust of 34 mph recorded at Palm Beach International Airport. Miami had a gust of 30 mph, and Fort Lauderdale reported a gust of 33 mph.

Even the West Coast wasn’t left out, with Naples reporting a 30 mph gust.

In Biscayne National Park, Fowey Rocks Lighthouse reported a pair of gusts Saturday of 36 mph.

Top 10 driest periods
Areas in West-Central and Southwest Florida have had one of the driest “dry seasons” on record, with some locations reporting the driest on record. (Credit: NWS-Tampa)

The trigger has been a block of high pressure in the Northeast, which began sliding southeast toward Bermuda on Sunday. That should swing winds around to the southeast, according to the National Weather Service, which means diminishing winds and higher humidity for South Florida.

The moister air results in rain chances rising to 30 percent Monday, and they remain between 20-30 percent most of the week. Unfortunately for the East Coast, most of the potent shower activity may be focused on the peninsula’s interior.

“Some of the heavier showers/storms may produce brief heavy downpours, which will be beneficial to the ongoing drought situation,” forecasters in Miami said Sunday.

Based on analyses from NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center, end-of-week rainfall totals look to be around an inch just east of Fort Myers and around a quarter of an inch in Palm Beach south into Miami-Dade. The lower Keys may also get a decent soaking.

But that will hardly be enough to dampen the developing South Florida drought. April rainfall deficits currently stand at about 2 inches in West Palm Beach; an inch-and-a-half in Miami and Fort Lauderdale; and an inch-and-a-quarter in Naples.

Central Florida deficits range widely from just 0.08 of an inch in Fort Pierce to 1.48 inches in Orlando. And Vero Beach is actually enjoying a surplus of 1.19 inches.

Tampa is down a half-inch, and the Middle- and Lower-Keys are running close to average.

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800px-Greenland-ice_sheet_hg

ANXIETY IN THE ARCTIC: A glacier that holds back water from Greenland’s massive ice sheet has developed worrisome cracks, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

The potential worst-case scenario sea level rise if the Greenland ice sheet melted: a foot.

At issue is the Petermann Glacier, which has already lost several Manhattan-sized chunks of ice since 2010.

The glacier floats atop a fjord as deep as the Grand Canyon, and acts as sort of a plug to stop ice melt from the ice sheet from pouring directly into the ocean.

Image credit: The Greenland ice sheet via Wikimedia Commons

Another shot of open-window-weather likely by week’s end

South Florida forecast

Spring weather has definitely sprung around South Florida, but a shot of cool air is due next weekend. (Credit: NWS-Miami)

It’s tempting to conclude that the cool weather season is over in South Florida, that the A/C is set, the windows are closed, and the light jackets are returned to the back of the closet.

Not so fast, though, National Weather Service forecasters say.

An exceptionally strong cold front appears poised to roll through the Florida peninsula at the end of the week, delivering a shot of January-type air that should produce another round of open-window-weather as we close in on the Passover/ Easter holidays.

The week looks pre-summer sultry, with highs in the mid-80s even on the Atlantic coast and lows dipping only to the mid-70s at night. Balmy winds will blow out of the southeast, and with the April sun high in the sky you’ll be cranking up the car’s A/C to high every time you jump behind the wheel.

But the cold front that slides through Thursday night looks for real (at least for now), driving temperatures down into the low 60s by Saturday with highs only in the mid-70s. It’s worth noting that 75 is the average high around South Florida in January.

Before the front arrives: “South Florida will be under prevailing south-southwesterly flow though the period, with only minimal east coast sea-breeze development,” NWS forecasters said in their Sunday analysis. “The result will be very warm temperatures, potentially approaching record highs, in the mid-upper 80s and low 90s.”

Forecasters are calling for seasonable temperatures next weekend, and much drier air should make for some very pleasant conditions.

If the forecast pans out, though, and highs only reach 75 with lows around 60, that would be around 5 degrees cooler than normal highs and lows of 80 and 64. (In fact, the normal high ticks up to 82 in Miami on Wednesday.)

Of course, strong cold fronts in April aren’t all that unusual, although record cool maximum temperatures creep into the mid-70s by the middle of the month.

Record lows in West Palm Beach are in the 50s all the way through the end of May, but it’s interesting to note that from April 1 to May 31, only three record lows have been recorded in this century — the April 16 low of 50 set in 2007, the April 24 low of 53 set in 2012, and the April April 25 low of 50 set in 2005.

None of the record lows in May were set in this century, although the May 1 record of 54 was set in 1999.

On the other hand, 23 low temperature records in May were set before 1930 in West Palm Beach; and 19 record lows in April occurred prior to 1930.

CoCoRaHS observers

FLORIDA SHINES: The state came through with 135 new sign-ups for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network (CoCoRaHS), the most in the nation during the March drive for volunteers.  You can sign up anytime, of course — all you need is a rain gauge. See https://www.cocorahs.org/. (Credit: NWS-Melbourne)

Chances for wet weekend on the wane for South Florida, forecasters say

Chances for any significant rainfall in parched South Florida are dwindling as the weekend approaches, the National Weather Service said Wednesday.

While a low pressure system and accompanying cold front pushes east across the eastern U.S. and into the Mid-Atlantic, triggering potentially severe weather, it’s looking as if the front could weaken substantially before providing the area with any much-need rain.

Precipitation probabilities peak at around 30 percent Friday and Friday night, forecasters said, then level off to around 20 percent Saturday and Sunday as the front lingers in the area.

“While models show the bulk of activity over the Gulf of Mexico weakening substantially as it nears South Florida later on Friday, will have to watch for potential of more organized convection holding together,” forecasters said in their Wednesday discussion.

NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center shows maximum precipitation amounts through the weekend of around a quarter of an inch around South Florida, and less as you head south toward the Keys.

The front is expected to wash out over the area on Sunday.

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800px-GreenMountainWindFarm_Fluvanna_2004

OUTLOOK CLOUDY: As the U.S. gears up to put a greater emphasis on coal for energy needs, other parts of the world are seeing a brighter future for renewable resources.

The U.S. is already well behind the rest of the world when it comes to renewable energy, and the question is now whether this gap will widen further in the coming years. President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday wiping out previous climate change directives that would have closed many coal-fired power plants.

Hydroelectricity, solar and wind accounted for about 15 percent of U.S. electricity generation in 2016, according to Nature.com. That was almost double compared to a decade ago, when renewables accounted for just 8 percent of the market.

But they accounted for 24 percent of power generation in 2016 worldwide.

A new study by the University of California at Berkeley suggests wind and solar power will take center stage in Africas as power needs triple on the continent by 2030.

Researchers identified potential for solar and wind farms in 21 nations in southern and eastern Africa, from Libya and Egypt to the east coast of South Africa. The reliance on wind and solar to fuel the growth would save billions of dollars in infrastructure costs across the continent, they said.

About a third of Africa uses hydroelectric power, but the reliability of that is in doubt as the potential for drought increases due to climate change.

“The surprising find is that the wind and solar resources in Africa are absolutely gigantic, and something you could tap into for relatively low-cost,” said senior author Duncan Callaway, a UC Berkeley associate professor of energy and resources. “But we need to be thinking now about strategies for fostering international collaboration to tap into the resource in a way that is going to maximize its potential while minimizing its impact.”

Image: Green Mountain Energy Wind Farm, near Fluvanna, Texas via Wikimedia Commons.

Big spring warm-up on tap as ‘Severe Drought’ grips parts of Florida

THURSDAY RAINFALL TOTALS: Miami, 1.17 inches; Kendall, 2.11; Marathon, 0.11; Fort Lauderdale, 0.45; Pompano Beach, 0.45; West Palm Beach, 0.45.

East-Central: Fort Pierce, 0.54; Vero Beach, 0.70; Melbourne, 0.07; Daytona Beach, 0.20.

West Coast: Naples, 0.01; Fort Myers, trace; Tampa, 0.0;

RECORD WATCH: Fort Myers set a record high Thursday with 90 degrees, beating the old mark of 88 in 2007. Melbourne tied a record high Wednesday with 90, matching a mark set in 1955.

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ORIGINAL POST: Although a cold front was plowing across the Florida peninsula on Thursday — and was forecast to settle into the Straits on Friday — there’s apparently little or no cold air actually associated with it and temperatures through the next week are expected to warm into the above-normal range.

Hot sunshine this time of the year, the equivalent of the strength of the sun in September, tends to make short work of cooler overnight lows.

Wednesday morning’s low in West Palm Beach was a chilly 55 degrees, the ninth day in a row of sub-60-degree lows. But under clear skies, the afternoon temperature shot up to 83.

You could make a case that Wednesday’s low was the last hurrah for the cold weather season, since all of the major forecasting organizations from the National Weather Service to AccuWeather have highs climbing into the low- to mid-80s by the weekend while bottoming out in the mid- to upper-60s.

Precipitation chances were as high as 60 percent for some areas of South Florida on Thursday, and NWS forecasters were optimistically calling for up to three-quarters of an inch of rain.

“Overall rainfall amounts are expected to generally be light, but a few areas could see a nice soaking rainfall of around a half an inch, helping the ongoing drought situation,” forecasters said in their morning analysis from Miami.

Florida drought
Parts of South-Central Florida are now in Severe Drought. (Credit: U.S. Drought Monitor)

Drought conditions have gotten worse through the Florida peninsula, the U.S. Drought Monitor said in its outlook released Thursday. Areas to the north and west of Lake Okeechobee are now in Severe Drought, analysts said, while Moderate Drought has expanded up the East Coast into the Cocoa Beach area and west toward parts of Metro Orlando.

Another slice of Moderate Drought has developed from near the Big Bend area on the Gulf Coast northeast to St. Augustine.

Most of coastal South Florida remains Abnormally Dry, with actual drought confined to northeastern Palm Beach and Broward counties.

March rainfall deficits range from 0.11 of an inch in Miami to 1.62 inches in Fort Lauderdale, 1.47 inches in Naples and 2.29 inches in West Palm Beach.

Deficits in the Keys range from around a half-inch to an inch-and-a-half.

February was second-warmest on record worldwide, NOAA says

February global temps
The world map was once again awash in red in February. (Credit: NOAA/ NCEI)

It was the second-warmest February worldwide — coming in only behind February 2016 as the warmest in the 138-year global record.

Global temperatures on land and sea combined were 1.76 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average of 53.9 degrees, compared with 2.16 degrees over average in 2016. It edged out February 2015 by 0.18 of a degree, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information announced Friday.

It was also the second-warmest February across the U.S. behind 1954.

“The February global land and ocean temperature has increased at an average rate of plus-0.13 F per decade since 1880; however, the average rate of increase is twice as great since 1980,” the agency said.

February temperatures in Florida ranged from plus-2.5 degrees in Fort Lauderdale to plus-8.9 degrees in Pensacola, according to the Florida Climate Center.

“February 2017 was the second-warmest in Pensacola, third-warmest in Fort Myers, and fifth-warmest in Tallahassee and Tampa,” analysts said. “Several high temperature records were tied or broken across the state.”

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Rocket launch

FIREWORKS ON THE SPACE COAST: A heat and moisture plume from Saturday night’s Delta-IV rocket launch is shown in this photo released by the National Weather Service in Melbourne. It was taken by the GOES-16 satellite 26,000 miles above the Earth. The launch occurred at 8:18 p.m. after a 40-minute delay due to a ground system issue. (Credit: NWS-Melbourne)

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COOL SNAP CONTINUES: Yet another cold front will sweep down the Florida peninsula Sunday night, dropping high temperatures Monday to nearly 10 degrees below normal. But since winds will quickly swing around to the northeast, overnight lows early this week will be in the low 60s rather than the 50s and even 40s seen with last week’s front.

High pressure building in mid-week should drive highs back to around normal in South Florida, with lows in the upper 60s to near 70 by the end of the week, National Weather Service forecasters said.

Rain chances also increase next weekend into the 20-30 percent range, forecasters said, as a developing low pressure system in the eastern U.S. draws moisture into the Florida peninsula from the south.

Through Saturday, major South Florida reporting sites have had five straight days of below normal temperatures.

Miami breaks rainfall record; more storms on the way

Florida forecast

With the cold front exiting the state Tuesday morning, unseasonably cool temperatures are on the way for all of the Florida peninsula.  Wednesday and Thursday low should dip into the low 50s on the southeastern coast, the upper 40s on the West Coast, and 30s in North-Central Florida. The forecast low in Gainesville Thursday morning is 28. (Credit: NWS-Miami)

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TUESDAY UPDATE: Monday night/ Tuesday morning storm totals: Miami, 0.40 of an inch; Fort Lauderdale, 0.02; West Palm Beach, 0.61; Palm Beach, 0.40; Naples, 0.10; Boynton Beach, 1.05; Key West, 0.74; Vero Beach, 0.33; Fort Pierce, 0.21; Orlando, 0.08; Punta Gorda, 0.78; Fort Myers, 0.16; Tampa, 0.61.

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ORIGINAL POST: Miami busted a one-day rainfall record on Sunday as a line of pre-cold front storms swept across the southern peninsula, but some other South Florida reporting stations received little or no precipitation.

The National Weather Service measured 1.33 inches at Miami International Airport, beating the previous record of 1.20 inches that fell on March 12, 2010.

But only 0.05 of an inch fell in Fort Lauderdale, while West Palm Beach reported a quarter of an inch and Naples was skunked — no measurable rain has fallen in the Southwest Florida location in March.

That’s expected to change Monday night and Tuesday as the cold front actually moves through. In fact, West Coast locations are under a Marginal risk for severe weather Monday night, with thunderstorms expected over the rest of the southern peninsula.

NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center is calling for about a quarter of an inch to fall over the southern peninsula, with lesser amounts as you head south toward the Keys.

Post-cold front lows on Tuesday night, Wednesday night and even Thursday night are expected to sink into the 50s as dry weather returns to Florida.

The same storm system that’s dragging the front across Florida is expected to bring blizzard conditions to parts of the Northeast, with up to 2 feet of snow and 60 mph winds, according to the National Weather Service.

New York blizzard forecast

Heavy snow with possible white-out conditions are in the forecast for Monday and Tuesday from the Mid-Atlantic north into New England. New York City could get close to 2 feet of snow. (Credit: NWS-New York)

Five day forecast

Cooler but very pleasant weather, by March standards, is in the Florida forecast for the rest of the week. Wintry temperatures return to the Upper Midwest and Northeast as spring approaches on Monday. (Credit: NWS-Miami)