Hot topic: 2020 had near-record warmth worldwide

(Image credit: NOAA)

Last year tied 2016 for the warmest on record since such records began in 1880, according to NASA. Separately, NOAA said 2020 was the second-warmest on the books, coming in just behind 2016.

The seven year period from 2014 to 2020 were the warmest seven consecutive years in the record books, an analysis echoed by a recent report from the National Weather Service in Melbourne announcing that “pronounced warmer than normal conditions have largely continued to dominate the weather pattern across the region since 2015 . . . .”

Annual temperatures since 2015 have been within the top five warmest for East-Central Florida.

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NEW ENSO FORECAST: La Niña conditions are pretty much a lock (95 percent) in the tropical Pacific through the rest of the winter and into spring, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said Thursday. But after March, forecasters expect a transition to ENSO neutral conditions through June.

CPC forecasters say the La Niña influence will likely be reflected in the new three-month outlook to be issued next Thursday. La Niña generally means warm and dry weather for Florida, but that hasn’t been the case so far this winter. Although it has been dry, December had below normal temperatures across the state and after this weekend’s chilly temps, January overall temperatures will slide into negative territory as well.

As for the upcoming hurricane season, a fading La Niña may help keep storm numbers from soaring like they did in 2020. Very long-range forecasts issued last December favored another above-average year in the Atlantic, but we’ll have a little better idea when the April forecasts come out.

Ideally, if we transitioned to an El Niño in fall we could see a dramatic decrease in the number of storms, since those conditions — warmer than normal waters in the tropical Pacific — tends to increase wind shear in the tropical Atlantic.

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TEMP TURN AROUND: The normal high in West Palm Beach ticks up a degree — from 74 to 75 — on Monday. The average high as has been on a downward slide since August 8. Miami and Fort Lauderdale’s high rises from 76 to 77 a week from Saturday.

Umbrella alert: Front set to deliver first precip of new year

(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

Hooray! The first measurable rainfall of 2021 is headed into South Florida by mid-week, the National Weather Service says.

HOW DRY WE WERE: Through Monday, none of the four major observation sites in South Florida — Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Naples — have had any measurable rain.

In Miami, you have to go back to December 28 to find 0.01 of an inch of precipitation; 0.09 of an inch fell on Christmas Eve before the major cold front crashed South Florida’s holiday party.

Even so, Miami ended December with just 1.60 inches in the bucket, a monthly rainfall shortage of nearly half an inch.

Wednesday’s rain chances increase to around 50 percent by Wednesday, with a cold front moving into the area and then washing out.

“There will not be a noticeable difference in cooler temperatures behind this frontal passage,” forecasters in Miami said in their Tuesday morning forecast discussion.

Rainfall totals of around a half-inch are expected through the end of the week. (Image credit: NWS-Miami)

And . . . there’s this from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center: Florida may see a return to above normal temperatures at the end of the month. This is supported by the GFS forecast model, which suggests highs in the 80s for at least several days as January enters its final week.

(Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

December goes out cool and dry; but 2020 was hot-hot-hot!

(Image credit: NWS-Tallahassee)

FRIDAY UPDATE: A cold front was expected to stall out over North Florida this weekend and bring heavy rain to parts of the Florida panhandle. The front is forecast to get picked up and move south through the peninsula early next week, bringing “seasonably cool” temperatures to South Florida.

RECORD WATCH: West Palm Beach tied a record warm low Thursday with 74 degrees, matching a mark set in 2015.

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NOAA issued its January forecast Thursday, calling for above normal temperatures in Florida and most of the U.S., with the exception of the Southwest. Highest chances of above normal temps are in the Great Lakes States and the Northeast. (Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

It was an up-and-down temperature month around the Florida peninsula, but December overall will go into the books as a cooler than normal month thanks to four strong cold fronts.

Most cities turned in slight precipitation deficits for December.

The absolute final data won’t be available until next year . . . which is just hours away . . . but here are the near-final figures through Wednesday.

Miami is finishing the month with temperatures running 1.4 degrees below average, and a 0.38 of an inch rainfall shortage. It was the only month of 2020 with below normal temps except for May, when the city finished a half-degree below normal. The month with the biggest temperature anomaly was April, when temps ran 6.1 degrees above average.

Key West was 1.7 degrees below average through New Year’s Eve, and the island also turned in a slight precipitation deficit at -0.71 of an inch. December was the only month of 2020 with below average temps in Key West, and like Miami, the biggest temperature anomaly was in April.

Central Florida turned in an even chillier December performance, with Orlando at 3.8 degrees below average and a rainfall deficit of 1.46 inches. Like Key West, December was the only month of the year with below normal temperatures, but the warmest month compared to normal was March, when the city finished the month at an impressive 7.1 degrees above average.

Tampa had a December temperature deficit of 2.4 degrees, along with a light precipitation surplus of 0.39 of an inch. It was the only month of the year with below average temperatures; March had the largest temperature anomaly at plus-7 degrees.

Jacksonville is ending December 3.1 degrees below average for the month, with a precipitation shortfall of 0.37 of an inch. July in Jacksonville was also slightly below normal — just a tenth of a degree; and June had a temperature deficit of four-tenths of a degree. Jacksonville’s warmest month compared to average was March, with temperatures a whopping 9.1 degrees above normal.

Tallahassee ended December at -2.5 degrees with a precipitation deficit of 0.73 of an inch. It was the only month of the year with below normal temps — and like a lot of other cities, March was the warmest compared to average, at plus-8.9 degrees.

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RECORD WATCH: Vero Beach tied a record warm low Wednesday with 69 degrees, matching a record for the date set just one year ago.

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2021 OUTLOOK: My prediction for the new year weather in Florida: Hot, especially from around May into September and October, followed by slightly cooler temperatures in November and December. (You’re pretty safe with that right?)

Happy New Year!

Warm-up starts Sunday; balmy New Year’s Day in forecast

(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

Merry Christmas from frigid Florida!

“Certainly keeps looking like this will likely be the coldest christmas in 20+ years,” National Weather Service in Miami said.

Morning lows (Weather Underground): Temps bottomed out close to 50 degrees on both South Florid coasts, with 40s inland. It was in the low- to mid-40s in Central Florida but 30s north of Orlando with freezing or near-freezing temperatures north of a line from around Ocala over to St. Augustine.

It was 26 in Live Oak, 28 in the Tallahassee area and mid- to upper-20s in the Florida panhandle, except high 30s to near 40 in some of the Gulf Coast areas.

Apparent lows from the National Weather Service: Miami, 54; Fort Lauderdale, 53; Naples, 51; and West Palm Beach, 50. It was 63 in Key West and in Marathon.

Orlando, 40; Tampa, 46; Jacksonville, 32; and Tallahassee, 27.

After another (slightly colder) Saturday morning, and an unseasonably cold Saturday, a warm-up begins Sunday and into next week.

“Temperatures will reach normal levels by Monday and by mid to late week will be running a good 3 to 5 degrees above normal for day time highs and 5 to 10 for overnight lows.”

The GFS is showing a warm New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day before another shot of cold air brings more below normal temperatures to Florida next weekend.

Holiday weather story: heat index near 90 gives way to wind chill in 30s

More below normal temperatures are in the long-range forecast for all of Florida — and the southern tier of states — for the first week of January. (Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

In Finland they run out of the sauna and jump into an ice-cold lake or pile of snow. South Florida may experience something similar on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, as heat index readings near 90 give way to wind chills in the 30s.

At least, that is the picture painted by National Weather Service forecasters in Miami, who have had a busy week adjusting their predictions on just how hot it’s going to get on Thursday and just how cold it’s going to get on Friday.

The latest forecast: Christmas Eve day will bring “near record highs for the east coast metro areas” with “heat indices to be in the mid to upper 80s over most areas except around 90 over the east coast metro areas.”

And for Christmas and Christmas night: “Wind chill values may reach the 30s across most of [South Florida].”

Actually, this seems like an appropriate way to start the final week of a month that has seen more ups and downs than the International Yo-Yo Federation.

So far, Miami has been as warm as 85 this month and as cold as 48; Fort Lauderdale, 85 and 47; West Palm Beach, 84 and 44; and Naples, 81 and 45.

Up in Central Florida, Orlando has a December temperature spread of 80 and 39; Daytona Beach, 80 and 37; Melbourne, 81 and 37; and Lakeland, 82 and 38.

Temperature spreads have been even more dramatic in North Florida, where Jacksonville reached 81 on December 14 and bottomed out at 28 degrees on December 2. Gainesville: 78 and 26. Tallahassee: 74 and 27.

December average temperatures will likely end up below normal across the state, pretty much the opposite of what an La Niña winter is supposed to look like in Florida.

Forecasters eye ‘potent’ Christmas Eve cold front

More cold temps are forecast to finish off Florida’s up-and-down December. (Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

NO DAY AT THE BEACH: A front due to roll down the Florida peninsula Christmas Eve or early Christmas Day could deliver a nasty punch of frigid air, according to the National Weather Service and some forecast models.

“Temperatures will quickly fall behind the potent cold front with near-freezing temps possible Christmas morning and inland freezes possible again next weekend as a cold airmass settles over the area,” National Weather Service forecasters in Jacksonville said Saturday morning.

NWS Melbourne: “What is most noteworthy with this [frontal passage] will be another taste of below normal temperatures for Christmas, with early morning lows in the in the 40s/50s, and highs Friday afternoon in the upper 50s to upper 60s.”

NWS Tampa: “Some models differences but most indicate much more amplified pattern to sweep through the nation late next week with strong cold front moving through the Deep South with a chance of showers/storms ahead of the front and much colder high pressure airmass into next weekend.”

NWS forecaters in Miami are calling for possible “cool to colder” temps for the holiday weekend.

For now, it doesn’t look that bad. Weather Underground, for example, is projecting highs in Orlando in the low 60s and lows in the low 40s for Christmas weekend. Highs in the upper 60s are in the forecast for Christmas Day in South Florida.

Friday’s GFS model was depicting lows in the 30s all the way down into the southern peninsula, but Saturday’s run seemed to have backed off on that. But the Canadian (CMC) was still insisting that the cold temps will slice all the way down the peninsula on the Saturday morning after Christmas.

The problem is, this time of the year forecasts often trend downward as the event nears, so we’ll have to keep an eye out for forecast changes. Hopefully this won’t turn out to be a “bag-your-sensitive-plants” event for Central and South Florida.

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PINELLAS COUNTY TORNADO: The National Weather Service in Tampa issued its report on the “violent tornado” that ripped through Pinellas and Hillsborough counties on Wednesday. It was rated an EF2 with winds of 125 mph as it covered a 13-mile swath of West-Central Florida.

Much of the severe damage occurred at an industrial park, where buildings were lifted up and roof decking was blown off. Outer walls collapsed. In all, two buildings were destroyed and five had major damage. In a boat storage facility, major damage occurred to the building and 2-ton boats were thrown around.

“Video on social media showed the tornado crossing the Howard Franklin Bridge (Interstate 275) with debris and a light pole dropping in front of the observer,” the report said.

Florida December temps: What goes up must come down

(Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

Florida temperatures this December have been on a rollercoaster ride — and it looks like that may continue right through the end of the month.

Major cold snaps occurred December 1-3, and again December 7-11, with another short-lived event this morning and into Saturday.

Friday morning apparent lows: Miami, 55; Fort Lauderdale, 53; West Palm Beach and Naples, 50. It was 63 in Key West and 60 in Marathon.

It was 41 in Orlando; Melbourne, 43; Vero Beach, 45; Fort Pierce, 46; Tampa, 41; Sarasota, 46; Leesburg, 38; Gainesville, 30; Cross City, 28; Daytona Beach, 37; Jacksonville, 32; and Tallahassee, 30.

Luckily we haven’t had any record-busting lows and there has been only patchy frost west of Lake Okeechobee. Even for people who like cold weather this time of the year, a freeze in South Florida has nasty consequences, not only for agriculture but for your home landscaping maintenance as well.

The cold snaps have been interspersed with near-record high temperatures in some cases — take Miami for example. The high was 85 on Monday, just two degrees off the record for the date. On the other hand, the temperature bottomed out at 48 a few days earlier on December 10. That wasn’t a record either, but it did represent a 32-degree temperature difference over a four day period.

There have been enough cold days to put overall December temps below normal through Thursday, and it looks like that may continue right through the holidays.

In their Friday morning forecast discussions, National Weather Service forecasters are hinting at another potent cold front coming through the state from Christmas Eve into Christmas Day. For now, it doesn’t look too serious, according to long-range forecasts by both Weather Underground and AccuWeather.

But the GFS model is showing some 30s all the way down into South Florida’s West Coast late Christmas weekend. The Canadian model (CMC) seems to support this idea, and both models suggest temperatures in the single digits for the Great Lakes States as the holiday weekend winds down.

A.I. storms into the weather forecasting biz

NOAA issued its January forecast today, calling for above normal temperatures in Florida and the entire tier of southern states, as well as the eastern U.S. (Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

FRIGID FRIDAY MORNING? The cold front that is cruising down the Florida peninsula today will deliver some cool weather by morning — but the cold snap should be short lived. Easterly winds return by Friday night so Saturday morning could be 8-10 degrees warmer.

Expected lows on Friday: Miami, 57; Orlando and Tampa, 41; Jacksonville, 35; Gainesville, 32 with widespread frost and wind chills as low as 27; and Tallahassee, 33.

RAINFALL REPORT: A member of the CoCoRaHS citizens observer network reported 2.81 inches of rain Wednesday in Lake City, North Florida. Rainfall totals over the three county area — Suwanee, Columbia and Baker — ranged from just under 2 inches to around 2.50 inches.

Totals of around an inch-and-a-half were reported in the Jacksonville area.

Observers in the Tampa area reported around a third-of-an-inch up to more than inch in northern Hillsborough County.

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A RADICAL NEW APPROACH to weather forecasting uses artificial intelligence to analyze weather patterns over the past 40 years to predict what will happen next, a breakthrough that could increase speed of forecasting and eventually boost accuracy.

Currently super-computers analyze real-time data from across the globe to produce weather forecasts. Forecast models like NOAA’s GFS sift through all the (very complex) data and come up with a scenario, which is then weighed against other models. Meteorologists generally use a blend of the models, called ensemble forecasting, along with their own skills to make a prediction.

The new technique is being developed by researchers at the University of Washington in cooperation with Microsoft.

The A.I. approach “is essentially doing a glorified version of pattern recognition,” said UW’s Jonathan Weyn, lead author of the study. “It sees a typical pattern, recognizes how it usually evolves and decides what to do based on the examples it has seen in the past 40 years of data.”

For now, the new model is less accurate than traditonal weather forecasting, but it uses 7,000 times less computing power, which means faster results. And when applied to ensemble forecasting, meteorologists may be able to use the approach to more quickly predict where a hurricane might make landfall, for example.

“After training on past weather data, the A.I. algorithm is capable of coming up with relationships between different variables that physics equations just can’t do,” Weyn said. “We can afford to use a lot fewer variables and therefore make a model that’s much faster.”

Toasty temps for Florida as Mid-Atlantic braces for major storm

The Mid-Atlantic States are bracing for some mid-week mayhem, with the potential for heavy snow, wind, and ice. (Image credit: More info below. NWS-Philadelphia)

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BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND: After some moderate rain along the southeast coast early in the morning, the weather turned Chamber-of-Commerce nice on Saturday. Temps topped out near 80 in South Florida and the Keys, with low- to mid-70s in East Central areas; upper 70s to near 80 on the West Coast, and upper 60s to low 70s in North Florida.

The upcoming week looks pretty decent as well, with seasonal temperatures for most of the peninsula but a slight cool-down by Thursday and Friday — but nothing like the cold snap we had last week.

The Big Weather Story for the week may unfold in the Mid-Atlantic States and in New England, where a major snow storm could smack inland areas. Coastal cities could see mostly rain, so the tricky part is going to be predicting where the rain/ snow line sets up. However, some areas of the mid-Atlantic could get freezing rain, which is actually worse than snow.

The traffic in Central and South Florida has been at in-season levels for the last several weeks . . . but watch for more cars jamming the roads as folks flee the start of real winter weather during the upcoming pre-Christmas week. Highs Sunday in New York, Baltimore and DC are forecast to be around 60 before things start to deteriorate on Monday.

“There is increasing confidence a coastal storm will impact the region Wednesday with strong winds and heavy precipitation likely,” National Weather Service forecasters in Philadelphia said on their Facebook page Sunday. “What remains uncertain is the specific details such as where the rain/snow line sets up and the heaviest snow amounts fall.”

There has been speculation that a foot of snow could bury some areas when all is said and done.

Back in Florida, the long-range GFS model is suggesting seasonal temps to wind up the month, with a couple of cool-downs that — so far — don’t look terribly serious.

With so many other problems on our plate, it’s comforting to know that friendly weather conditions may stick around to help cheer people up. As a famous weather expert once said: “I got ninety-nine problems but the weather ain’t one.”

Warming trend to continue through weekend, forecasters say

A MONTH THAT WILL LIVE IN WEATHER INFAMY: This is the 10th anniversary of the coldest December on record in East-Central Florida. Temperatures ran 15-20 degrees below normal. Unusually cold weather gripped the entire state, not just Central Florida. The first 10 days of December 2020 were the coldest start to December since 2010, the National Weather Service in Melbourne said. (Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

SATURDAY UPDATE: Showery weather kicked off the weekend in South Florida, with East Coast locations reporting up to two-thirds of an inch from rain moving in from the Bahamas.

Miami reported 0.30 of an inch, while West Palm Beach reported 0.14 of an inch and Fort Lauderdale, 0.07. Naples was overcast with no rain reported.

Unofficial rainfall totals across the southeastern coast Saturday morning ranged from a few hundredths of an inch north of West Palm Beach to 0.63 of an inch in Homestead, according to the citizens observation network CoCoRaHS. The rest of the state was dry, with the exception of Bird Key off Sarasota, where an observer reported 0.20 of an inch.

But the story for the rest of the weekend will be warmer temperatures, with low 80s in South Florida by Sunday and Monday. In fact, 80s remain in the National Weather Service forecast for South Florida through mid-week.

Monday forecast highs: Miami, 81; and Homestead, 83; and West Palm Beach, 81. Central Florida should be in the upper 70s Sunday and Monday with mid-70s in North Florida.

Rain is expected Wednesday as a cold front stalls out near or over South Florida, according to forecasters. That should be followed by cooler weather late in the week, but only a few degrees below normal — not the cold blasts we experienced earlier this week.

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(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

ORIGINAL POST: It was yet another chilly morning on Friday, despite some recovery in afternoon temperatures on Thursday. Cloud cover on the East Coast added to a somewhat wintry feel.

South Florida Friday morning apparent lows: Miami, 61; Fort Lauderdale, 59; West Palm Beach, 56; Naples, 53.

East Central: Melbourne, 45; Orlando, Vero Beach and Fort Pierce, 47.

West Central: Tampa and Sarasota, 53; St Petersburg, 50; Punta Gorda, 47; Brooksville, 38.

North Florida: Gainesville, 39; Cross City, 36; Daytona Beach, 45; Jacksonville,41; Lake City, 37; Tallahassee, 39.

More seasonal temperatures are in the National Weather Service forecast for the weekend and through next week. Highs are forecast to be in the mid- to upper-70s around the peninsula, except low- to mid-70s in North Florida followed by cooler temperatures next week as a cold front moves through. That front is forecast to stall near South Florida early in the week.

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PACIFIC KEEPS ITS COOL: NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center issued its ENSO update Thursday, calling for a continuation of La Niña conditions — abnormally cold waters in the eastern tropical Pacific — through the winter. Forecasters said that may be followed by a transition to neutral conditions in spring.

They said for La Niña is expected to affect weather in the U.S., which generally means warm and dry conditions for the southern tier of states and cooler, wetter weather for the northern states. That hasn’t been the case so far in December, with Florida turning in below normal temps for the first 10 days of the month.

On top of that, there have been record highs in the northern Plains States.

But the new winter forecast will be out next Thursday, and there’s an expectation that it will once again reflect the moderate La Niña that remains in place.

How cool has December been in Florida so far? Well, for the first 10 days of the month, Miami is running 5.3 degrees below normal, with above normal precipitation — just the opposite of what a La Niña winter tends to look like in Florida.

Fort Lauderdale is running 6.4 degrees below normal and West Palm Beach, 5.6 degrees below average. Naples is 5.9 degrees below normal.

In Central and North Florida, Orlando is running a whopping 8.6 degrees below normal; Tampa is at minus 6.4 degrees and Jacksonville is at minus 7.2 degrees. Tallahassee is at 5.1 degrees below average.