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)


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

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.

Toasty mid-week on tap in Florida; Jacksonville radar under doctor’s care

5 day forecast WFL

(Credit: NWS-TampaBay)

After a blustery weekend, a decent warm-up is in the cards for much of the Florida peninsula, according to forecasters.

In South Florida and in Central Florida, highs could top 80 by mid-week, although temps may be a bit cooler at the coasts due to on-shore breezes.

However, the latest 10-14-day outlook by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is for cooler-than-normal temperatures throughout the peninsula. And the CPC’s call for an above-normal February in Florida looks a little shaky.

At Weather Underground, meteorologist/blogger Jeff Masters said: “The long-range forecast for late February has more uncertainty than usual. A massive pulse of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) is currently over the Western Pacific. It’s the largest such event in 40 years of record keeping for the western Pacific, according to NOAA.

“Computer models have been struggling more than usual in their longer-range forecasts for North America during recent days. In short, we can expect some big weather events over the next several weeks, but where and when they’ll unfold remains uncertain.”

Florida and the eastern U.S. may be in for a mid-month cold snap. (Credit: NOAA/ CPC)


MOPPING UP: Punxsutawney Phil and his fellow furry weather prognosticators have returned to their burrows following Friday’s Groundhog Day ceremonies. NOAA, however, took the opportunity to weigh in on Phil’s record.

The U.S. weather agency said: “In 2017, he also saw his shadow and predicted six more weeks of winter. He missed his mark, though: The contiguous United States saw above average temperatures in both February and March of last year.

“In February 2017, most locations across the Lower 48 were warmer than average. Thirty-nine states from the Rockies to the East Coast were much warmer than average, with 16 states being record warm. Despite below- to near-average temperatures in the Northwest, no state ranked as record cold. Overall, it was the second warmest February on record.”

Florida had a very warm February last year with monthly highs of 88 in West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Naples, and 87 in Miami.


JAX radar outage

DOES HE HAVE A TEMPERATURE? The award for best radar outage graphic goes to the National Weather Service in Jacksonville, which has been having some trouble with their equipment. Ditto for Melbourne, the next major radar service to the south. With this year’s flu season taking a heavy toll across the country this winter, a lot of people feel just like Mr. Radar looks — “under the weather.” (Image credits: NWS-Jacksonville/ NWS-Melbourne)

Melbourne radar outage


Central Florida slammed with heavy rain; Tampa smashes 118-year-old record

CFL rainfall

(Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

Record rainfall swamped parts of Central Florida Sunday, with a 3.31-inch deluge reported in Tampa by the National Weather Service. It smashed the previous precipitation mark for January 28 — 1.52 inches set 118 years ago in 1900.

Even heftier amounts were reported to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network north of the city, including an astonishing 4.22 inches west of I-275.

Central Hernando County checked into CoCoRaHS with 3.12 inches; and an observer near Zephyrhills also reported 3.12 inches. Totals in excess of 3 inches were measured in Lake, Hernando and Marion counties.

To the south in Sarasota County, a CoCoRaHS observer near Englewood measured 3.37 inches, while well over 2 inches fell just north of Port Charlotte.

On Florida’s northeast coast, 3.21 inches fell near St. Augustine, according to CoCoRaHS.

The National Weather Service in Melbourne reported 24-hour totals through 7 a.m. Monday of 1.32 inches in Daytona Beach and 1.44 inches in Deland.

Only trace amounts fell in South Florida Sunday, but the National Weather Service in Miami predicted showers would continue through Monday as the cold front that triggered the North Florida storms rolls through.

The coolest post-cold front morning should be Wednesday, the National Weather Service said,  with lows in the 40s and 50s in South Florida. That will be followed by a brief warming trend, according to forecasters, in advance of yet another cold front at the end of the week.


(Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

FEBRUARY OUTLOOK: The Climate Prediction Center will have its updated February forecast out on Wednesday, but it looks like the NOAA agency will stick with its prediction of above-normal temperatures for Florida and below-normal precipitation, consistent with the Pacific’s La Nina.

In fact, the four-week outlook issued Friday suggests that most of the country will be drier than normal for the final month of the 2017-2018 meteorological winter. The new month, which begins Thursday,  may start with closer-to-average precipitation, according to National Weather Service forecasts.

But February is typically the driest month of the year in Florida.

Tampa ties record low at 29 as Arctic blast ices Florida peninsula

Tampa area lows
Thursday morning lows in the Tampa area. (Image credit: NWS-Tampabay)

It was 29 degrees Thursday morning in Tampa — cold enough to tie a record low for the date set back in 1981.

Wednesday night’s cold front delivered a blast of Arctic air all over Florida. Early morning temperatures in the panhandle were about the same as those in the Upper-Midwest — in the teens.

According to Weather Underground, It was in the mid-30s on the Treasure Coast, low 30s to upper 20s north and west of Lake Okeechobee, the low 30s on the West Coast and mid- to upper-20s northwest of Tampa.

North Florida and the panhandle were in the low to mid-20s and there were a few upper teens in the northwestern panhandle, including a low of 17 in DeFuniak Springs, Florida.

In South Florida, freezing temperatures hit Glades County, west of Lake Okeechobee. Palmdale was 30, and one South Florida Water Management District observation station reported 29. It was 36 in Belle Glade.

In inland Collier County, Immokalee reported 32 degrees.

On the coast, it was 39 in West Palm Beach; 45 in Miami; 42 in Fort Lauderdale; and 36 in Naples.

Lows were well off records in South Florida. The West Palm Beach record low on Thursday was 32 in 1977, and three consecutive cold weather records were set that year with 29 degrees on the 19th and 27 on the 20th.

That was the cold snap that brought Palm Beach County measurable snow — Friday is the 41st anniversary of that event with snow falling as far south as Miami.

Feb forecast

FEBRUARY PATTERN CHANGE? Fresh long-range forecasts were issued Thursday by NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center. They continue to show above-normal temperatures for Florida in February and continuing on through April. The main factor in these long-range forecasts is the La Niña in the tropical Pacific. La Niña usually results in warm and dry conditions in the southern U.S., although that certainly wasn’t the case this month. The pattern of warm temps in the West and cold weather in the East, in place since the first of the year, may begin to reverse itself next week, forecasters say. (Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)


NASA said Thursday that global temperatures in 2017 were the second-hottest on record. The warmest year on record was 2016, the agency said. Global records date back to 1880.

Separately, NOAA declared 2017 the third-warmest on record.

“The minor difference in rankings is due to the different methods used by the two agencies to analyze global temperatures, although over the long-term the agencies’ records remain in strong agreement,” NOAA said. “Both analyses show that the five warmest years on record all have taken place since 2010.”


80-degree weather by next weekend after one more shot of cold air


(Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

If you’re getting a little tired of the cool weather — and I realize that many people actually like it — set your sites on next weekend. A month-ending warm-up appears to be in the works.

Looking at the Sunday morning run of the GFS, it looks like January will indeed go out quite toasty around Florida, with highs close to 80 in the south and the mid- to upper-70s in Central Florida. Other forecast models seem to agree, and National Weather Service forecasters in Miami are predicting highs near 80 next weekend.

Floridians look forward to the winter cool-down, but I wouldn’t count temperatures in the 40s  as open-window weather. That’s what is in the forecast for the coming work week.

By Thursday morning, it’s going to be in the upper 40s in coastal South Florida and the upper 30s in Central Florida.

It was in the low 50s on the southeast coast Sunday morning, but 44 in Naples and to the east, 39 in Immokalee. It was in the 40s out in the Glades, the low 40s in Central Florida and the low 30s in North Florida and the panhandle.

It was in the mid-50s in the Keys.

Here’s what early morning temps looked like in Central Florida:

CFL AM Temps

(Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)


The warm-up begins Friday.

Noteworthy: The last week in January is when normal highs and lows in South Florida begin ticking up after the long (but very gradual) slide since last September.

Days are getting longer and by the end of next week, the sun will set in Miami at 6 p.m., with civil twilight lasting until 6:24 p.m.



Temps to tumble — again — with weekend cold front

With east winds bringing in warmer air off the Atlantic, Monday was the first day with above normal temperatures in South Florida since New Year’s Day — and the first in Naples since December 29.

The same is true in the Keys and most of the rest of the Florida peninsula, except that through Monday Daytona Beach had 11 straight days of below normal temperatures.

Now it’s looking pretty solid that another cold front will rip through this weekend, giving temperatures another wallop, although not as bad as the Arctic Express that blasted Florida and the eastern U.S. right after the holiday, according to National Weather Service projections.

Highs probably won’t make 70 in much of South Florida, and Orlando and Tampa may not see 60.  At least, no freezing weather is forecast by the NWS in Central Florida, although North Florida could see another round of it.

The West stays warm and the East takes another polar hit during the third week of the month, long-range forecasters say. (Credit: NOAA/ CPC)

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center had forecast above average temperatures in South Florida for the month of January, and that’s starting to look like a bust. Shorter-term forecasts show the state locked in another cold snap through at least January 18. Even if temperatures return to normal for the final week of the month, overall temps will likely finish in negative territory.

In Miami, that would mean the first month with below average temperatures since November of 2016. By comparison, last January was a whopping 4.4 degrees above average in Miami, with an average high of 81 and an average low of 65.

Interesting note: While Florida and the eastern U.S. has been shivering under the Arctic onslaught, Australians are sweltering in summertime heat.

In southeastern Australia, near Sydney, the weather over the weekend was “hot enough to melt asphalt,” the New York Times reported. Penrith, a Sydney suburb, hit 117 degrees, the hottest day on record.

The high in Melbourne was 104; beaches were packed, wildfires spread, and a section of highway was closed when asphalt “oozed apart in the heat,” the paper reported.

From that perspective, we should probably be more appreciative of the cool January weather. It’s likely to be another hot summer in Florida, since that has been the pattern over the last decade.