Winter arrives, but Florida shrugs

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The science behind the winter solstice. (Credit: NWS-Miami)

A cold front was struggling its way into South Florida Wednesday morning just as winter arrived — at 5:44 a.m. EST.

It’s tempting to conclude that the cooler weather is here to stay with the arrival of the new season, but that’s apparently not what nature has in mind. Heat and humidity will return to Florida for Christmas weekend and will dominate the final week of 2016, the National Weather Service says.

More record highs and record warm lows were set around Florida on Tuesday — including a record high of 88 in Naples — and after a brief respite it will be right back into the soup with air conditioners getting an early winter workout.

If it’s any consolation for coolish weather wishers, and it probably isn’t, December 2016 is running behind the torrid pace of December 2015, which was the hottest on record in South Florida. The month through Tuesday is 6.3 degrees above average compared to last year’s blistering pace of 8.2 degrees, although if next week’s forecast pans out overall temperatures will likely edge closer to 2015’s hot and clammy close.

The average high in West Palm Beach through Tuesday was 81 degrees, with an average low of 69.5, not exactly winter wonderland conditions.

Once the current cold front falls apart, high pressure will build again in the Atlantic and spread over the Florida peninsula, sending temperatures into the mid-80s away from the coast and low 80s at the beaches.

Holiday conditions in northern states won’t be bad by seasonal standards. Chicago is expected to reach the mid-40s on Christmas Day but with clouds and drizzle. Call it gloomy and raw, neither fair nor exceptionally foul, the city stuck in weatherland limbo.

The weather map issued by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center has the U.S. Southeast painted blood-red into the first week of the new year, so no pattern changes are on the immediate horizon.

It looks like the holiday week will be a good time to relax outside with a good book. See you at the beach.

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The Eastern U.S. — from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Coast — is expected to be unseasonably warm into the new year. (Credit: NOAA/ CPC)

Record warm temps in Florida as snow, sub-zero weather grips Midwest, Northeast

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Upstate New York braces for a winter weather battering. (Credit: NWS-Buffalo)

A blast of cold Canadian air is poised to hammer the Great Lakes area and leave up to 2 feet of lake-effect snow. People in places like Grand Rapids, Mich., Cleveland and Buffalo are in for a rough end to the week, forecasters say.

Thursday morning’s forecast low in Chicago is 2, with 30 mph winds. That should put wind chill values down to around -17. It warms up on Friday, but up to 8 inches of snow is expected over the weekend.

Christmas weekend temperatures could make it into the 40s, however.

Temperatures in South Florida will be running above normal over the next week, according to the National Weather Service, particularly overnight lows. Average temperatures are mid- to upper-70s with lows in the upper 50s.

The forecast for the next few days is for highs in the low 80s and lows in the upper 60s to near 70. But over the weekend and early next week, lows may only sink into the mid-70s as winds swing around to the southeast.

That could mean a few record warm low temperatures. The forecast low Saturday, Sunday and Monday in West Palm Beach is 75 degrees. Records range from 73-75, so a few marks may be set or tied.

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THE BING THING: A lot of offices are playing Christmas music this time of the year, mine in particular, which has it on 24/7 — even when nobody’s there, I think. So when you open up in the morning you get hit immediately with the sounds of Tony, Perry and Bing.

And of course The Carpenters.

So even though we’re in South Florida, you always wonder, just briefly, what the odds are of a white Christmas here. I myself enjoy seeing a white Christmas — in photos sent by family and friends from colder climes.

The only actual white Christmas I could find in Florida’s modern history came in 1989, when several inches of snow fell near Jacksonville on Christmas Eve day. Parts of the Florida panhandle got a dusting of snow on Christmas Day 2004.

I was living in Boca Raton in 1989 and the previous night I set a dish of water out on my back deck. And yes, it had a thin layer of ice on it the next morning. Snow flurries were reported in the Everglades. My friend’s car wouldn’t start.

What are the chances of a white Christmas in Miami? Well, they’re not zero, since the city did get a dusting of snow during the famous cold snap of January 1977. In 2012, Weather Underground’s Jeff Masters put odds at between one in 20,000 and one in 40,000.

The National Weather Service only issues seven-day forecasts and so their Christmas weekend predictions aren’t out yet. But Weather Underground is forecasting temperatures in the low- to mid-80s in the days leading up to Christmas weekend, although it looks like a front may go through on Christmas Eve day.

AccuWeather says that front could drive South Florida temperatures all the way down to 60 on Christmas morning, although daytime temperatures may rebound into the upper 70s.

So the closest you may get to a white Christmas this year is the shaved ice in your holiday margarita.

After blustery weekend, warm and drier weather on the way for holidays

Drier weather is on the horizon for much of the Florida peninsula as we move toward the Christmas/ New Year holiday.

The Southeast Coast has continued to deal with moderate to heavy rainfall intermittently, with another 0.39 of an inch reported in West Palm Beach on Sunday. Miami picked up 0.22 of an inch and Fort Lauderdale reported 0.43 of an inch after a 1.05-inch soaking on Saturday.

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The long-range forecast through Christmas calls for toast temps in Florida. (Credit: NOAA/ CPC)

Fort Lauderdale is now 1.83 inches above normal in the precipitation department as we near mid-December, while the Miami surplus stands at 1.37 inches; 1.14 inches in West Palm Beach.

More showers were moving north up the Atlantic Coast Monday morning, which will add to those monthly totals.

But the blustery weather that was in place all weekend will give way this week to more appropriate winter sunshine — with at least partly sunny skies.

And, while unusually wet and windy conditions were around for much of the southern peninsula, temperatures have remained significantly above normal.

For example, temperatures have been running 5.4 degrees above average in West Palm Beach, with only two days of below average temperatures. Both occurred last week and were only slightly below average. On the other hand, there have been seven highs in the 80s with a high of 87 on Dec. 6.

Expect the warm weather to continue, even as the drying trend takes hold.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting above normal temperatures for all of Florida at least through Christmas Day.

It looks like a Chamber of Commerce holiday season is around the corner and if you see Santa Claus outside your favorite department store, chances are he’ll be wearing shorts and flip-flops.

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More dense fog was forecast to hit the interior and West Coast areas on Tuesday morning. (Credit: NWS-Miami)

Residents on Florida’s West Coast, and interior areas west and southwest of Lake Okeechobee, were dealing with heavy fog Monday morning. Visibilities were less than a quarter mile, according to the National Weather Service in Miami.

Dense fog was blanketing Collier, Glades and Henry counties as dawn arrived.

And with light winds Monday night, there’s another risk for dense fog into Tuesday morning for all South Florida areas except eastern Miami-Dade and Broward, forecasters said.