March was warm and dry across the state; forecasters predict wetter April

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The Storm Prediction Center has pulled South Florida out of the “Marginal” risk for severe weather on Tuesday, but Central Florida remains under the gun. Thunderstorms and small hail are possible, forecasters said. (Image credit: NOAA/ SPC)

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Happy April 1st. March was warm and dry across the Florida peninsula and the Keys — and that’s no foolin’!

Miami’s average high was 81.3 degrees with an average low of 66.2 — an overall 1.1 degrees above the March 30-year average. At the same time, Miami had a March precipitation shortfall of 1.09 inches.

Interesting to note that it was the sixth warmer-than-average month out of the last seven in Miami, and the only reason it wasn’t eight straight is that January had slightly below average temperatures.

Orlando had a bone-dry March with just 0.56 of an inch of rain. That was 3.21 inches below average. Temperatures in the city were 1.3 degrees above normal with an average high of 78.8 and an average low of 57.7.

Tampa racked up 1.87 inches of rain but that was still 1.16 inches short. The average high was 77.9 and the average low was 60.3, which was 1.8 degrees above average.

In North Florida, Jacksonville had 2.04 inches — about half of normal March precip — while temps were 0.7 of a degree warmer than normal, with an average high of 73.9 and an average low of 51.

Following the warm and dry pattern across the state, Gainesville ended the month an impressive 3.8 degrees above the 30-year average, and the city was almost two-and-a-half inches shy of normal rainfall. The average high was 78.7 with an average low of 53.6.

Key West was 2.9 degrees above the March average and was short on rainfall by a quarter of an inch. Marathon finished the month 3.7 degrees on the plus side with a precipitation deficit of 1.49 inches.

Tallahassee was short almost 3 inches in March rainfall and had slightly above normal temperatures.

April precip

 

April temps

(Image credits: NOAA/ CPC)

APRIL OUTLOOK: April temps climb steadily in Florida, from a normal high of 82 in Miami on April 1 to 85 on April 30. Lows go from 74 to 78. In Orlando, normals rise from 80 to 85 and lows jump from 58 to 63. In Tampa, highs warm from 78 on April 1 to 84 on April 30, while lows rise from 61 to 66. Temperatures of 90 or better are common around the peninsula in April — the month’s record high in Tampa is 96, set two years ago on April 29.

The new April forecast, released Sunday by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, calls for high chances of above normal temperatures across the entire state along with above normal precipitation. Precipitation usually edges up around Central and South Florida as we head toward the end of the dry season on May 15.

TROPICS: Tropical storms can form in April in both the Atlantic and Pacific. The most recent Atlantic tropical storm was Arlene, which initiated a very busy and costly season on April 19, 2017. Tropical Storm Ana formed on April 20, 2003. An unnamed tropical depression formed on April 14, 1912; and a subtropical storm formed on April 21, 1992. The first tropical depression of the 1973 season formed on April 18.

Colorado State University releases its first hurricane season forecast on Thursday.

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Weekend wonder-weather as March comes to a close

Key West air show

(Image credit: NWS-Key West)

You can pretty much count on Goldilocks weather in Florida this time of the year — not too hot and not too cold. Whether you’re somewhere on the peninsula or in the Keys, chances are good for sunshine and balmy breezes.

So it’s no wonder that the last weekend of March has a lot going on.

To wit:

This is the weekend of the Southernmost Air Spectacular in Key West, which opens at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free at the Naval Air Station. The show includes helicopter rides and a “Kids Zone” with inflatable rides, slides, a bungee jump and bounce houses. And yes, the National Weather Service has a booth at the show for anyone who wants to stop by and ask a question.

This is also the weekend of the Palm Beach International Boat Show on Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach. It’s billed as one of the top five boat shows in the country and features more than $1.2 billion worth of yachts.

The sprawling show, which juts out into the Intracoastal Waterway just east of downtown, has boats on display ranging from 8-foot inflatables to 300-foot yachts.

Interspersed among the boats are floating cocktail lounges where you can get food and listen to live music. There’s a fishing clinic for kids.

Gates open at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. An adult two-day ticket is $52; kids under 6 are free.

Up the coast, Vero Beach has its Groovin’ in the Grove Music Festival Saturday and Sunday, opening at 11 a.m. at Countryside Citrus, 6325 81st Street, Vero Beach. It features bluegrass, country and classic rock.

Check your local listings for events in your neck of the woods.

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(Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

The National Weather Service will issue its updated April forecast on Sunday, but for now it looks like April temperatures will be above normal in Florida, and in fact most of the country.  After a slight dip in temperatures next week with a cold front that rolls through on Monday and Tuesday, the 10-day and 14-day outlook is for a warm April. The three-to-four-week outlook, above, was posted on Friday.

Beach erosion likely for Florida East Coast as Bahamas low revs up

Gale Warning

UPDATE: A Gale Warning was posted by the National Weather Service for Florida’s East Coast from Brevard County south , along with a High Surf Advisory for the Treasure Coast and Palm Beach. A Small Craft Advisory was issued for Biscayne Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The NWS office in Melbourne warned of heavy rain near the coast late Wednesday. A High Wind Advisory was in effect for East Coast inland areas. Winds were gusting up to 32 mph in Jacksonville Wednesday afternoon with 40 mph gusts possible. (Image credit: NWS-Miami)

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Hold on to your hats.

Rain was spreading Wednesday into North Florida, Central Florida and the West Coast around a developing low pressure system that triggered a Wind Advisory from the National Weather Service in Melbourne.

In South Florida, the “driving weather feature the next few days as it deepens and drifts to the east-southeast,” forecasters in Miami said. “Pressure gradient is expected to tighten quickly this afternoon as this low takes shape, with gusty northwest and eventually north-northeast winds wrapping around the low into the region later today and into
Thursday. Main impacts will be across the local waters where gales are expected.”

High surf and beach erosion was also in the forecast for Florida’s East Coast.

In East-Central Florida, wind gusts of up to 35 mph were expected, making for hazardous driving. “Loose outdoor objects may be blown around,” forecasters said. “Minor damage to trees and limbs, power lines and some property is possible.”

Rain chances are at 40-60 percent in Central Florida through Thursday night; 40 percent in South Florida; but mostly clear skies are in the forecast for the West Coast.

CFL high end rain chances

Highest rain totals are expected to be in North-Central Florida. The graphic shows high-end rainfall probabilities. (Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

HERE’S WHAT’S NEXT: After a cool start to April, above normal temperatures are expected for most of the U.S. as we head toward the middle of the month.

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(Image credits: NOAA/ CPC)

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Late-March chill targets peninsula; NOAA issues new April forecast

SFL temps

(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

Florida will be taking a trip back to the 40s and 50s, but don’t expect to see Frank Sinatra, Elvis or Little Richard. An unusual late-March cold snap is on its way, driving overnight temperatures down to around 10 degrees below normal for the next two nights.

You don’t hear wind chills discussed much in South Florida, especially just 10 days short of the beginning of April. But it looks like this cold front will be packing a potent punch.

“Wind chills Friday night look to be in the low to mid 40s across the Lake Region, mid to upper 40s across the central interior, upper 40s to lower 50s across Palm Beach County and the west coast, to low to mid 50s across the east coast,” National Weather Service forecasters said in their Thursday morning discussion.

Friday and Saturday mornings will be the coolest. Forecast lows for South Florida include 58 in Miami; 54 in West Palm Beach; 51 in Belle Glade and 46 in Palmdale, west of Lake Okeechobee.

Central Florida: Orlando, 51; Melbourne, 50; Tampa, 52; and Winter Haven, 49.

North Florida: Jacksonville, 49; Gainesville, 44; and Lake City, 42. Tallahassee will bottom out at around 45, according to forecasters.

A warm-up is in the works for the weekend with highs near 80 on Saturday and Sunday up and down the peninsula. But another cold front may drop down the state on Tuesday, bringing another round of lows in the 50s.

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RAINFALL REPORT: Tuesday-Wednesday rainfall totals included 2 inches in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach; Key West, 1.69; Fort Pierce, 1.20; Vero Beach, 1.16; Orlando, 0.24; and Fort Myers, 0.85.

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April forecast

(Image credits: NOAA/ CPC)

April precip

NEW LONG-RANGE OUTLOOK: NOAA issued its April forecast Thursday, along with an updated 90-day outlook for April, May and June. It calls for above normal temperatures and rainfall in Florida and the southeastern U.S. in April.

For the 90-day forecast through June, NOAA is calling for above normal temperatures in the eastern U.S., including Florida, below normal temperatures in the Upper Midwest, and warmer than normal temperatures in Washington, Oregon and the northwestern U.S.

Most of the nation will have wetter than normal conditions, forecasters said, with high chances of excess rainfall in Florida and the Gulf Coast.

New El Niño forecast could put brakes on hurricane season

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There were 15 named storms during the 2018 hurricane season, above average for the third year in a row. We haven’t had a below average hurricane season since 2015. Will El Niño make a difference this year? (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

There was some potentially good news Thursday from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center — El Niño is expected to continue through the summer months, and there’s a 50 percent chance it may roll right into fall.

That could knock down tropical storm development in the Atlantic, although there are obviously other factors at work during the hurricane season, one of them being sea surface temperatures.

Hurricane researcher Philip Klotzbach immediately posted on Twitter: “NOAA has increased its chances of #ElNino for peak of the Atlantic #hurricane season (August-October). Now at 51%, up from 39% with the February outlook. El Niño typically reduces Atlantic hurricane activity due to increases in vertical wind shear, especially in the Caribbean.”

Klotzbach’s first pre-season forecast for Colorado State University — one of the most watched in the weather biz — will be released two weeks from next Thursday, and you can bet that El Niño will be prominently discussed.

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BLUSTERY WEEK? Forecasters have backed off — a bit — on the amount of rain over the peninsula late this weekend into early next week. But we’re hardly talking about Chamber of Commerce weather, with cloudy skies and highs of only around 70 in Orlando from Sunday through Thursday, and chilly lows in the 50s.

Even in Miami, forecast highs for Monday through Thursday are only in the mid-70s, under mostly cloudy skies and showery conditions, according to the National Weather Service. Ditto for the Keys.

Tampa is looking at highs in the low 70s, cloudy skies, and lows in the 50s next week. Rain chances are a little lower on the West Coast at 20-40 percent through Tuesday.

AccuWeather is predicting temperatures will be closer to normal starting next Friday, March 22. But no major warm-ups are on the horizon so far in Florida, which is good — when the hot weather finally does hit, it’ll be around until folks start putting up their Halloween decorations.

CoCoRaHS

AND SPEAKING OF RAIN: National Weather Service offices are looking for more precipitation observers. So they’re trying to expand CoCoRaHS, the national rainfall monitoring system that has a membership drive every March. “We need as many as we can get!” forecasters in Tampa said on their Facebook page Friday. Florida has had 43 signups so far this month. Click here for more information.

Daytona Beach sets record high; cool-down expected next week

Daytona Beach set a record high Sunday with 86, a degree warmer than the previous record of 85 set four years ago in 2015.

The National Weather Service in Miami said coastal South Florida could be flirting with record warm lows this week, but that hasn’t happened yet. Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach all bottomed out at 73 on Sunday, considerably above average but short of records.

However, Key West posted a record warm low with a sultry 77, beating the old mark of 76 set in 1992.

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(Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

If you’re worried that the cool weather is over in Florida, here’s a heartening forecast: Temperatures next week, and perhaps the week after, may be slightly cooler than normal, according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. AccuWeather is showing some highs in the mid-70s in South and Central Florida next week, along with some lows in the lower 60s.

The normal low in Miami for this time of the year is 65.

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POLAR VORTEX IN REVIEW: No question that the Midwest is coming off a terrible winter — not only a cold one but a snowy one. In hindsight, we can get an idea of just how bad it really was.

The National Weather Service has confirmed a new all-time low temperature record in Illinois: 38 below zero in Mt. Carroll in the northwestern part of the state on January 31. That’s about 130 miles northwest of Chicago.

A team of experts from NOAA confirmed the temperature, which beat the old record of 36 below zero in Congerville, set on January 5, 1999.

“The station rests in a relative depression, conducive to pooling of cold air, and observations slightly cooler than immediate neighbors are not an uncommon occurrence,” NOAA said in an official report on the temperature reading.

“Personnel from WFO Quad Cities visited the site in the days following the observation. They found the site to be in proper working order, that standard observing practices were followed and that the station instruments successfully compared to a reference instrument.”

On Weather Underground’s Category 6 blog, meteorologist Jeff Masters noted: “All-time state temperature records are very hard to beat. The extreme heat associated with the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s generated almost half of the all-time state highs that exist today. Interestingly, that decade also produced more of the currently standing all-time record lows than any other decade.

“Since 2000, there have been just two new all-time state cold records set: in 2011 in Oklahoma (-31°F at Nowata on Feb. 10) and in 2009 in Maine (-50°F on Jan. 16 the Big Black River near Saint Pamphile, PQ). One all-time state heat record has been set since 2000 (113°F at Columbia University of South Carolina on June 29, 2012) and one has been tied (120°F near Fort Pierre, South Dakota, on July 15, 2006, a record first set in 1936).”

Marathon posts second straight record warm February

WCFL forecast temps

THE BIG (MARCH) CHILL: Florida will have two or three days of January-type temps the middle of next week as a massive shot of cold air takes over the Eastern U.S. But temperatures around the state should be back to normal by the end of the week. The GFS is suggesting that most of the U.S. east of the Mississippi River will finally get some spring weather as we head toward the middle of the month. (Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

Marathon had the warmest February on record for the second year in a row, the National Weather Service in Key West said Friday.

The average monthly temperature was 79.3 degrees, smashing the previous record of 77.6 degrees set just last year.

As reported Friday, Key West also had its warmest February on record at 77.2 degrees. That beat the old record for February of 77.0 set in 1959.

The National Weather Service in Jacksonville posted a rather interesting record for Gainesville: The city tied the mark for the most number of dense fog days in February. Gainesville had nine days with dense fog, defined as visibility of a quarter of a mile or less. That also happened last year in Gainesville and in 1986 and in 1976.

The National Weather Service began keeping track of fog data in 1973.

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March Madness
(Image credit: CoCoRaHS)

COLLECTING WEATHER DATA IS A SLAM DUNK: When most people think of March Madness, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament comes to mind. But if you’re a weather aficionado, it may mean something a little different: The contest between all 50 states to see which can recruit the most rainfall observers during March.

“There is always a need for a greater number of observations, as the saying goes ‘the rain doesn’t fall the same on all’,” the organization notes on its website. “Due to the variability of precipitation, amounts measured can be quite different only a block or two away. Help fill in the gaps by recruiting a friend or relative during our contest. The more observations, the clearer the picture, the better the understanding of where it did and did not rain.”

There are two categories — one for the most numbers of volunteer observers and another, for less populated states, for the most per capita observers.

The winners receive a “CoCoRaHS Cup” to exhibit for a year until next year’s contest. It travels around the state. The contest has been ongoing since 2006.

So which states have the most enthusiastic rainfall observers? Florida won it once, in 2017. Other winning states have included Indiana, Illinois, North and South Carolina, and Texas. Last year, 1,302 new observers were recruited through the program.

CoCoRaHS is a non-profit organization that originated at the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University in 1998. Here’s the link for signing up. A rain gauge costs $31.50.