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.”


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.


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.


More temperature records fall in the Keys

Marathon record.png

(Image credit: NWS-Key West)

There was a 31-degree temperature difference from the Keys to the panhandle Saturday, with record warmth in Marathon and Key West while parts of the western panhandle didn’t even make it to 60.

Marathon hit 90, the earliest the city in the Middle Keys has ever reached that temperature. The previous record for earliest 90-degree high was April 6, 2009. On average, the first 90 degree day occurs on May 15.

The 90-degree high also beat the record for March 16, 89 degrees set in 2015. Additionally, Marathon broke the record for warmest low on Saturday with 78 degrees, beating the old mark of 76 set on March 16, 2001.

Key West tied a record warm minimum, meanwhile, with 77, matching the mark last set in 2001.

Pensacola, meanwhile, was in the low- to mid-50s all day until mid-afternoon, when the temperature topped out at 59. Winds were gusting over 20 mph. Pensacola had a pair of record highs earlier in the week of 84 degrees.

Tallahassee’s high on Saturday was 65.


CFL rainfall

(Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

ST. PADDY’S DAY SOAKING: Bring an umbrella if you’re headed out for a dinner of corned beef and cabbage, especially in Central Florida where rain chances are almost 80 percent in the Daytona Beach area.

In the holiday spirit, forecasters at the National Weather Service office in Melbourne said on Facebook: “Lots of green to be seen today, including on radar! Rain chances climb through the afternoon, ranging from 40-70% across the area. Widespread cloudiness will limit sunshine, so probably no rainbows to look for a pot o’ gold today.

“Stay dry on this St. Patrick’s Day!”


High end rainfall SFL

High end rainfall chances through Wednesday in South Florida. Image credit: NWS-Miami)

AND TO THE SOUTH: The bulk of the rain in South Florida will likely fall Monday night and Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service in Miami. But Wednesday may also be wet and blustery, with precipitation chances falling slightly.

Although forecasters are sticking to their prediction of 1-4 inches of rain generally across South Florida, the National Weather Service in Miami said Sunday morning: “Prospectively, higher accumulation totals of up to 6 inches are expressed by the local experimental probabilistic QPF for the east coast metro areas.

Given the expected increase in precipitation through the period, localized flooding could result from periods of heavy rainfall and the higher accumulation totals.”


Florida’s ‘record shattering day’ sees temps hit 90; more heat expected

ECFL records

(Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

There were more record warm temperatures around Florida on Monday than you can shake a palm frond at. In fact, almost every major city on the state’s East Coast, from Key West up to Jacksonville, posted either a record high temperature or a record warm minimum — or both.

The unprecedented heat extended to interior cities like Orlando and Gainesville, too.

In some cases the temperatures were the warmest ever recorded in February.

A few low 90s appeared in South Florida, including Immokalee in Collier County, which hit 90. Brighton, on the west side of Lake Okeechobee, had the nation’s high Monday with 91.

In all, 22 temperature records were set or tied around the peninsula. A cold front moved into the state Tuesday, bringing some slightly cooler air to North Florida, but Central and South Florida are forecast to continue their near-record or record-setting ways over the next couple of days.

The front is forecast to move back to the north Wednesday as a warm front, and the extended forecast through early next week doesn’t show any break in the heat. Even the West Coast may see some record busting temperatures, forecasters said.

Here’s the record roundup:

  • Gainesville reached 89, shattering the previous record high of 85 set in 1962. It was also the warmest temperature ever recorded in February, beating the old mark of 88 set on February 26, 1971. Gainesville also set a record warm minimum temperature with 67, beating the old mark of 66 set in 1975.
  • The high in Jacksonville was 86, busting a 63-year-old record high of 85 set in 1956.
  • Vero Beach made it to 89, breaking a record set in 2008 of 88. The 89 degree reading tied the warmest temperature ever recorded for the month of February. Vero Beach also set a new record warm minimum with 72, shattering the old record of 69 set in 2008.
  • Fort Pierce matched Vero Beach with 89, 2 degrees warmer than the old record of 87 set in 2008. The low was 72, beating the old record warm minimum of 70 set in 2008.
  • Down the coast, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach all set new record warm lows Monday with 75, 76 and 75, respectively. Miami’s previous record warm low, 73, had been on the books since 1961.
  • Naples‘ low was 73, beating the previous record warm minimum of 71 set in 1995.
  • In the Keys, Marathon’s high of 88 beat the old record of 87 set in 2008, and tied the record for warmest February temperature. the low, an incredible 79 degrees, broke the record for the date, 76 — set just a year ago. It tied the record for the month of February — which was set just a week ago on February 12!
  • Key West tied a record high with 84 and set a record warm low with 77.

Keys temp records

(Image credit: NWS-Key West)

Temperature records set, tied or challenged around the state

Monday forecast SFL

HAVE A NICE WHATEVER: Here’s the forecast for Presidents’ Day … or, as the National Weather Service calls it every year, Washington’s Birthday. Well, it turns out that the day actually is officially called Washington’s Birthday by the federal government, according to the website infoplease.com. “Many Americans believe that this holiday is now called ‘Presidents’ Day,’ in honor of both Presidents Washington and Lincoln, whose birthdays are Feb. 22 and Feb. 12, respectively,” the site notes. The celebration of Washington’s birthday goes back to the days when Washington was still in office, although it wasn’t named a holiday officially until 1885. Congress passed the Monday Holidays Act in 1968, which made Washington’s Birthday the third Monday of February. “Some reformers had wanted to change the name of the holiday as well, to Presidents’ Day, in honor of both Lincoln and Washington, but that proposal was rejected by Congress.” (Image credit: NWS-Miami)


Several high temperature records were set or tied around the Florida peninsula Sunday, while other areas came within a few degrees of tying records.

The high in Gainesville was 86, which beat the old record high of 85 set 91 years ago in 1928.

It was 86 in Sanford, which tied the record high set in 1949, and in the Keys Marathon hit 87, which busted the previous record of 84 set last in 2008.

This is the sixth warm temperature record set or tied this month in Marathon, although it needs to be noted that temperature records in Marathon only go back to 1950.

The high in Orlando was 85, which was 3 degrees off the record high of 88 set in 1944.

It was 85 in Naples, 2 degrees off the record high of 87 set in 1975.

Florida had the nation’s high again Sunday with 88 at Immokalee, Plant City and Winter Haven. The low was 30 below at 30 at Escourt Station, Maine, which is at the northern most point in the state on the Canadian border.

A look at February’s toasty temps; and a historic Valentine’s Day chill

Coldest Florida temps

MOTHER OF ALL ARCTIC OUTBREAKS: Florida has been warm this month, but a cold snap packed a true winter wallop over a century ago during the “Great Arctic Outbreak” of 1899, which occurred on Valentine’s Day. Temperatures plummeted below freezing over the most of the peninsula, with snow as far south as Central Florida. Tallahassee hit an incredible 2 degrees below zero — the coldest temperature ever recorded in Florida. (Image credit: NWS-Miami)


Florida is apparently headed into one of the warmest weeks of the winter after a first half of February that was already significantly above average from Tallahassee to Key West.

While January ended blustery and cool, it looks like February may go into the record books as unusually warm. NOAA will issue its spring forecast next Thursday.

Interior areas of South and Central Florida are forecast to warm into the mid-80s next week as high pressure over the peninsula keeps cold front to the north. Monday’s holiday forecast high in Immokalee, for example, is 87. Orlando’s forecast high on Wednesday is 85.

For the first half of February (through Thursday), temperatures in Florida were running as much as 8.6 degrees above normal. That was the temperature anomaly in Gainesville, which posted two record highs during the first half of the month, a pair of 86-degree readings.

Here are February first-half anomalies for the rest of the state:

Brooksville, plus-7.5 degrees; Tallahassee, plus-7.0; Sarasota, plus-6.6; Jacksonville, plus-6.5; Tampa, plus-6; Naples, plus-5.6; Fort Myers, plus-5.2; Orlando, Melbourne and Daytona Beach, plus 5.1; Key West, plus-4.6; West Palm Beach, plus-4.2; Miami, plus-3.0 and Fort Lauderdale, plus 2.8.

Marathon checked in with a first-half temperature anomaly of plus-6 degrees with four high temperature records. Marathon has had only one day this month in which it failed to reach at least 80 degrees, and that was February 4, when the high was 79.

Temperatures throughout the state are forecast to be well above normal for the remaining two weeks of February. Meteorological spring begins March 1 and astronomical spring begins March 20.


Forecast temperature anomalies through February 28. (Image credits: NOAA/ CPC)

Mild February in Florida forecast; a look at historic Groundhog Day storms


The new three- to four-week forecast from NOAA, issued Friday, calls for cool temperatures during the second-half of the month but toastier temps in Florida. (Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

The latest February forecast from NOAA shows Florida bucking a nationwide trend, with below normal temperatures expected in the western two-thirds of the country during the first half of the month and a cold second-half for everyone except the Florida peninsula, from around Orlando south into the Keys.

Some nice beach weather kicks off the upcoming week. “Under the dome of high pressure, fronts and most activity will stay to our north,” National Weather Service forecasters said Saturday.

Highs this week are expected to be near 80 in South Florida, the upper 70s in East-Central Florida, and upper 70s will take hold in Tampa and West-Central Florida toward the end of the week.


Groundhog Day tornado

(Image credit: NWS-Key West)

HISTORIC STORMS: A wind gust of 120 mph was recorded during an intense storm that walloped the Keys 21 years ago on Saturday. The 1998 system triggered tornadoes, flooding and record rainfall in Key West.

In addition, Saturday was the 67th anniversary of the Groundhog Day storm that slammed into South Florida — the only tropical storm ever recorded in February. It actually hit Florida as a gale-force storm before transitioning into a pure tropical system later in the Atlantic.

Miami recorded wind gusts of up to 68 mph with the system. The storm formed from a disturbance in the western Caribbean on February 2, 1952.


SUPER WEATHER IN ATLANTA? The expected high temperature in Atlanta Sunday is 60 degrees with a light wind, so there’s a chance that the roof at the $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium may remain open during the football game. The overnight forecast low is 45.

“I think you’ll see the roof in some form be operable,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank told Boston.com. “The NFL would like to see it operable. We’d like to see it operable. I think that’s what the plans are. How much and long it will be open, I’m not sure.”

FLORIDA WEATHER WATCH PREDICTION: New Orleans Los Angeles 24, New England 20.

Coastal Palm Beach slammed with more than 5 inches of rain

Marathon high temp

(Image credit: NWS-Key West)

Coastal Palm Beach County was hammered with rain Friday as storms developed off-shore and then drifted inland.

Barrier islands were the most affected, but Palm Beach International Airport, a few miles inland, racked up 1.43 inches through early Saturday morning.

A CoCoRaHS observer on Singer Island — northeast of West Palm Beach — checked in with a 24-hour total of 5.15 inches. Just to the north in Juno Beach, a National Weather Service observer reported 2.91 inches. And an observer just west of Lake Mangonia in West Palm Beach measured 3.67 inches.

The island of Palm Beach — near the Par 3 Golf Course — reported 2.91 inches.

Coastal Broward County picked up a fair share of precip as well. Pompano Beach reported 2.78 inches while Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport reported 0.83. Miami International Airport, though, only had a trace.

A TASTE OF THE WARM-UP TO COME: Marathon had a high temperature Friday of 84 degrees, tying a record high set in 2008. It was 80 in Key West.

Highs in Orlando are forecast to be near 80 by the end of next week.


PHIL SPRINGS INTO ACTION: Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow Saturday morning after emerging from his burrow in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and forecast an early spring.

The last time Phil predicted an early spring, in 2016, he was correct. He has predicted an early spring only 18 times in the 122-year history of the event. Still, the pros at NOAA and the National Weather Service aren’t impressed.

“While Groundhog Day is a way to have a little fun at mid-winter, climate records and statistics tell us that winter probably isn’t over,” NOAA says on its Groundhog Day website. “Climatologically speaking, the three coldest months of the year are December, January, and February, so winter typically still has a bit to go when the groundhog comes out in search of his shadow on February 2.”


January SFL wrap

South Florida’s January at a glance. For January stats in the rest of the state, see Friday’s Florida Weather Watch post. (Image credit: NWS-Miami)