Florida temps poised for rebound after cool start to week

Chilly temperatures in the 40s and 50s reigned over the Florida peninsula Monday morning as the cool weather season seemed to kick off in earnest.

Dade City, northeast of Tampa, checked in with a low of 39, according to Weather Underground, with a bone-dry dew point of 19 degrees. It was in the upper 30s in North Florida and there were some mid-30s in the panhandle.

In South Florida, extreme southeastern Miami-Dade was in the low 60s and it was in the upper 60s in the lower Keys.

The National Weather Service said it was 59 in Miami, 55 in Fort Lauderdale, 52 in West Palm Beach, 53 in Naples, 47 in Fort Pierce, 45 in Okeechobee, 46 in Vero Beach, 47 in Melbourne, 48 in Orlando, and 38 in Ocala.

Temperatures should rebound to more normal readings, with highs in the 80s and lows in the low 70s, for the week after winds swing around to the northeast and east on Tuesday and Wednesday, forecasters said.

Dry season outlook

(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

This week’s shot of cool, dry weather is a taste of the season to come, according to the NWS, which issued its November-April forecast last week. Due to a developing La Niña in the Pacific — cooler than normal water in the tropical Pacific — Florida is most likely to have a warm and dry winter, with precipitation in the 70-85-percent-of-normal range and temperatures 1-3 degrees above average.

In a La Niña year, storm tracks tend to be farther north, keeping Florida dry. Cold fronts still make it into the state, of course, but they usually have less moisture as they move through. The northern tier of states usually have a colder and wetter winter, so forecasts for a La Niña winter are music to the Florida tourism industry’s ears.

“The main concern of a drier and warmer than normal winter and dry season is the resulting likelihood of developing droughts,” the Weather Service outlook says. Each of the last four weak La Niña winters have led to moderate to severe drought by spring over at least parts of South Florida. Droughts in South Florida typically lead to an increased threat of wildfires such as what was experienced last spring.”

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(Image credit: NHC)

TROPICS WATCH: The disturbance in the Central Atlantic being monitored by the National Hurricane Center had a 40 percent chance of developing into a depression, or Tropical Storm Rina, over the next five days. It was expected to meander between the Azores and Bermuda.

Other than that, major forecast models show clear sailing over the next week to 10 days for Atlantic coastal areas. There are 31 days left in the 2017 hurricane season, which has been one for the record books.

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Wet, windy weekend forecast for Florida’s East Coast

Wet and breezy weather will be the rule this weekend on Florida’s East Coast, with more than 2 inches of rain possible through Monday and winds gusting up to 25 mph, the National Weather Service said.

It’s all the result of the cold front that brought cooler temperatures to the panhandle on Monday and Tuesday. The front was forecast to stall out over extreme South Florida, bringing wet conditions but not much in the way of cooler air.

High pressure building back into the north will create a pressure gradient with the trough of lower pressure to the south, according to forecasters, making for a windy weekend along the East Coast.

Rain chances are lower on the West Coast — in the 20-39 percent range — and lighter winds are in the forecast.

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1910 hurricane

(Image credit: NWS-Key West)

HURRICANE ANNIVERSARY: Yes, damaging Category 4 hurricanes can occur in late October. Tuesday was the 107-year anniversary of a powerful hurricane that made a crazy loop off Cuba’s West Coast in 1910. With peak winds of 150 mph, it then barreled into the Gulf of Mexico between Key West and the Dry Tortugas. It made a landfall near Fort Myers with winds of 110 mph.

TROPICS WATCH: Wednesday morning’s runs of the GFS and European (ECMWF) backed off on tropical development in the Caribbean next week, although the Canadian (CMC) and Navy (NAVGEM) continued to suggest a system or two brewing before the end of the month, either in the Caribbean of Gulf of Mexico.

The National Hurricane Center’s Tropical Weather Outlook map remained clear — no storms expected to form through Monday.

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The Farmer’s Almanac lists 20 signs of a hard winter in its latest edition, but editors are of course referring to the higher latitudes and not Florida. Particularly not South and Central Florida, and the Keys.

Here are the top five:

  • Thicker than normal corn husks.
  • Woodpeckers sharing a tree.
  • Early arrival of the snowy owl.
  • Early departure of ducks and geese.
  • Early migration of the Monarch butterfly

I decided to come up with my own top five signs of an approaching hard winter in Florida:

  • Out-of-state license plates begin appearing early.
  • Restaurants, especially on the barrier islands, introduce new menus with much, much higher prices.
  • Parking meters appear where there were none before.
  • The Department of Transportation announces it will close a lane on I-95 from November 15 to March 15.
  • Your in-laws announce that they’re coming for the holidays and will stay at your house for approximately two weeks.

Contemplating a South Florida fall

Students are heading back to school over the next couple of weeks, and there are already some Halloween displays at stores. The NFL played its first pre-season game on Thursday.

AccuWeather published its fall forecast on Thursday with the word “snow” plastered over the Rocky Mountain States.

In South Florida, fall is more of a concept than an event, but there are some subtle changes that take place.

To wit: The normal high in West Palm Beach, 91 since July 31, edges down to 90 on Tuesday. That doesn’t exactly portend a breath of fresh air, but it’s the first downward adjustment of the normal high temperature since January 18. Florida is surrounded by hot water in the fall, and the high of 89 on August 30 only ticks down to 87 on September 30.

Miami’s high remains at 91 until August 29, and hits 88 on September 30. Fort Lauderdale’s normal high of 91 edges down to 90 on August 17, while Naples’ normal high doesn’t fall to 90 until September 3, and it doesn’t hit 89 until September 25.

Overnight lows along Florida’s East Coast have been in virgin territory over the past two decades, with record warm lows being busted every month of the year. The average low in West Palm Beach in August is 76; 77-78 in Miami; 79 in Fort Lauderdale and 75-76 in Naples. Yet there are many summer nights in which the temperature fails to drop below 80.

Fort Lauderdale’s low on Friday was 84, a new record warm low for the date — and the previous record of 83 was set just eight years ago in 2009. The low was 82 in West Palm Beach, tying the record set in 1993.

By the way, the normal low in West Palm Beach doesn’t sink below 70 until October 27.

As for AccuWeather’s autumn sneak peek, the commercial forecasting company is calling for “a few tropical hits” during the season for the southeastern U.S., with areas along the Gulf Coast and the Carolinas most vulnerable.

Forecasters also warned about flooding rains in the Florida panhandle and states as far north as Kentucky.

Elsewhere, they predicted California and the West Coast would have a warm and dry fall, with chilly temperatures in the Midwest and drought conditions in the Northern Plains. They said New England would have an unusually warm autumn.

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Forecast tracks for Invest 99L. (Credit: SFWMD)

TROPICS WATCH: The GFS has been picking on Florida over the past few days with suggestions on Friday that Invest 99L could turn into a major hurricane and threaten the Keys and Florida’s West Coast. Slight adjustments in track make all the difference in the world, and while Friday’s model runs kept the storm off-shore of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba — a set-up that primes a system for a potential punch to Florida — Saturday’s runs plowed it into the Greater Antilles.

That can and often does tear up a storm thanks to some mountainous terrain, taking Florida off the hook.

Models are run every six to 12 hours, so we can expect many more flips and flops over the next week as 99L gets closer to the islands.

On the plus side, the European (ECMWF) is not terribly interested in 99L, but spins up the disturbance in the Caribbean (90L) and drives it into Mexico from the Bay of Campeche. The Euro has actually been very consistent with this forecast.

The Canadian has had its own brand of consistency with 99L, depicting a vigorous storm that rolls north well east of the Bahamas and off the U.S. East Coast.

It’s been clear the last few days that the Atlantic is still dominated by lots of dry air, and 99L has been struggling with these conditions. The National Hurricane Center slightly reduced chances of tropical development on Saturday, although forecasters continue to believe that chances are good for a tropical depression to form early next week.

Florida’s wet weather moves out, balmy summer beach days ahead

10 day precip
June’s wet weather may finally be on the wane. (Credit: NOAA/ CPC)

Look for a changing of the weather guard over South Florida, with the torrential rains of the past few weeks fading in favor of a more typical July — read drier — pattern.

That’s not to say that the Florida peninsula will return to the dry seasonal precipitation pace that held sway in spring. But the National Weather Service has begun ratcheting down rain chances, especially for East Coast metro areas, into the 20 percent range instead of the 70-80 percent we’ve been seeing.

With Potential Tropical Cyclone Three — a sloppy mess in the Gulf of Mexico that could be named a subtropical storm later on Tuesday — aiming for Louisiana or Texas, and Tropical Storm Bret on a date with dissipation in the Caribbean, the Florida peninsula should be increasingly under the influence of high pressure in the Atlantic.

Forecasters say a stalled cold front over North-Central Florida early next week may deliver another period of showers and storms over South and Central Florida, but all-in-all, better beach weather beckons.

Monthly rainfall totals are in double digits everywhere in South Florida, and respectable totals in East-Central Florida are signficantly above average. West-Central Florida has also had a soggy few weeks, with rainfall totals approaching 10 inches in Tampa, while St. Petersburg-Clearwater is reporting  a fat 14.33 inches for June through Monday.

The Keys are running around 3 inches on the plus side.

But NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center took out its beige marker for the last week in June for South Florida, its graphical forecast map indicating below normal precipitation to round out the month. Central and North-Central Florida may see close to average precipitation.

July is expected to kick off with normal rainfall levels throughout the state.

After a rain-cooled June that brought many Florida locations normal, or slightly below normal, temperatures, above-average heat is likely to fire up again through at least the first week of July, the CPC says.

TROPICS TALK: Looking beyond PTC Three and Tropical Storm Bret, waves continue to roll of the coast of Africa, and the GFS grabs on to one of them for potential development around July 5. But the GFS is infamous for jumping the long-range gun.

The European model (ECMWF) shows clear sailing  over the next 10 days and even the hyperactive Canadian model (CMC) is subdued, save for the suggestion of a Mid-Atlantic system as the month ends.

RECORD WATCH: The low in Melbourne on Monday was 78 degrees, which set a record for the warmest minimum temperature for the date, beating the old mark of 77 set in 2012.

TS Cindy

UPDATE: The National Hurricane Center finally upgraded Potential Tropical Cyclone Three to Tropical Storm Cindy at 2 p.m. EDT. The storm was bound for a landfall early Thursday morning around the Louisiana/ Texas border, forecasters said. Winds were clocked at 45 mph in the Central Gulf of Mexico and Cindy was stationary. In the Caribbean, Tropical Storm Bret was downgraded to a tropical wave as it sped west at 23 mph. (Image credit: NHC)

Hurricane Center goes code red on two Atlantic systems

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UPDATE: Early forecast models for the Caribbean low pressure system, which was designated Invest 93L by the National Hurricane Center Saturday afternoon. (Credit: NHC)

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Forecast development areas for Invests 92L (right) and 93L. (Credit: NHC)

National Hurricane Center forecasters got out their red markers on Saturday to announce a high chance of tropical development for each of the two areas of disturbed weather in the Atlantic.

Model wars continued between the European (ECMWF) and NOAA’s GFS, the latter of which has changed its forecast track for the low in the western Caribbean from Texas/ Mexico to the Florida panhandle. This is echoed by the Canadian (CMC) — the Rodney Dangerfield of tropical forecast models, which doesn’t seem to get much respect among weather professionals and amateurs alike.

But it’s interesting that the CMC has been the most consistent with the Caribbean low in keeping it in the Eastern/ Central Gulf of Mexico and spinning it into the northern Gulf Coast.

On the other hand, the gold-standard ECMWF still projects that the Caribbean low will slide across the Yucatan Peninsula, into the southwest Gulf and eventually make its way into Mexico or Texas.

The question is whether the ECMWF will begin trending east to catch up with the rest of the pack or if the others will see the errors of their ways and join the European in supporting the system’s western march.

On Saturday morning, you could be forgiven for thinking that it was much ado about nothing, since the showers and storms in the western Caribbean seemed to lack any organization at all. In fact, the heaviest rainfall was occurring south of eastern Cuba and near Jamaica, with very little activity near the coast of Central America.

Nevertheless, NHC forecasters give this area a 70 percent chance of becoming a depression or tropical storm by around mid-week. In their Saturday morning Tropical Weather Outlook, they did expand their red cone of development area a bit to the northeast, probably in deference to the GFS.

As for Invest 92L in the Central Atlantic, this system also earned an upgrade to a high chance of development — 70 percent — although some of the tropical waves behind it looked more robust.  (Development chances were downgraded to 60 percent Saturday afternoon). Most forecast models show 92L eventually rolling across the Caribbean and approaching the Yucatan, although a couple of outliers take it over Cuba or Hispaniola.

At this point, nothing suggests a threat to Florida from 92L.

If the western Caribbean low can manage to get its act together sufficiently this weekend, it will be tagged Invest 93L and then we’ll get the benefit of some of the more specific hurricane models, such as the HWRF.

The National Weather Service in Key West sums it up: “Still a tale of two camps between the 00Z ECMWF & GFS, which present different impacts given the associated track of low pressure yet to develop. In the case of the ECMWF, the model subsequent model runs continue to develop low pressure near the Yucatan and then move it more northwestward across the Yucatan Peninsula into either the Southwestern or South-central Gulf of Mexico.

“In this case, the best confluent bands of heavy showers and scattered thunderstorms could only graze the Lower Keys with heavy rainfall, with most of the heavy rainfall moving by to our west. In the case of the GFS solutions, the lower pressure that eventually develops, does move more north northwestward towards the Yucatan Channel and into the Southern Gulf. This scenario allows deep moisture and good confluence bands to move across Central and Western Cuba and to across all of the Keys. So we would include potential for locally heavy rainfall.”

Eastern Atlantic waves

Is this June — or August? Strong tropical waves keep emerging off the coast of Africa, more typical of late summer. (Credit: NOAA)

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LONG-RANGE: Will the Florida peninsula start to dry out over the next week or so? That’s still the picture painted by National Weather Service forecasters in Miami, who say a strengthening Bermuda high and an intrusion of Saharan air will hit the shut-off valve on nature’s rainfall faucet — at least for the East Coast — by late next week.

In the meantime, rain chances remain in the 50-70 percent range through mid-week, before falling to around 30 percent by Friday night.

The last week of the month may kick off a pattern change to drier July weather — if there are no tropical surprises.

Friday’s storms brought up to 2 inches of rain along parts of the East Coast from Broward County all the way up to Volusia County. The Tampa area received about an inch, according to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network.

 

Forecasters in Florida see possible shift to drier pattern

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UPDATE: The tropical wave in the Central Atlantic was designated Invest 92L by the National Hurricane Center. It was plotted at 5N 33.3W, about a thousand miles southwest of the Cape Verde Islands and 3,400 miles east-southeast of Miami. Early forecast models showed the system just clearing the northern coast of South America and moving northwest in the Caribbean. The eastern Caribbean is often a graveyard for Cape Verde storms, but early intensity models show 92L achieving and maintaining tropical storm strength through five days. (Image credit: SFWMD)

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Two areas of disturbed weather were upgraded Friday by the National Hurricane Center. (Credit: NHC)

Weather warning: A pattern shift may be dead ahead.

Forecasts for next week’s tropical weather are trending far enough west that Florida may be out of the picture for any significant rainfall. In fact, as we head toward July a typically drier pattern may be setting up, the National Weather Service says.

Normal July rainfall drops off in a major way from average June precipitation, falling from 8.3 inches to 5.76 inches in West Palm Beach and from 9.67 inches to 6.5 inches in Miami.

So climatology suggests that we may be moving toward a drier summer period.

Last year, July was uncommonly dry, with Palm Beach International Airport recording just 1.59 inches of rain and Miami, 4.11 inches.

That was particularly bad news since July 2016 was the hottest on record.

The Climate Prediction Center is noncommittal for July rainfall, predicting above-normal precipitation for the northern Gulf Coast while shrugging off most of the rest of the country. There’s a big question mark over the Florida peninsula, and rainfall totals will probably depend in part on how active the tropics will be next month.

As for the two systems on the National Hurricane Center map currently, both earned upgrades overnight. The Low that is progged to form over the Yucatan was given a 60 percent chance of tropical development by early next week, and the Atlantic wave that rolled off the coast of Africa on Monday was upgraded to 40 percent over five days.

The next two names on the Atlantic list are Bret and Cindy. And although the Central Atlantic wave appears to be getting better organized, the NHC track suggests it might crash-land into South America before it has a chance to cause any mischief in the Caribbean.

It is slightly disturbing, for non-meterological reasons, that the names for the 2017 hurricane season are recycled from 2005, although there were a number of retired names that year so instead of Katrina, there’s Katia; and instead of Rita there’s Rina; and instead of Wilma there’s Whitney.

These names were used in 2011 as well, and that season was no slouch with 19 named storms, seven hurricanes and four majors.

July was quite active that year with three tropical storms, and then things got crazy in August with seven named storms forming in the Atlantic, including Category 3 Hurricane Irene.

Fortunately, names are just names and have nothing to do with environmental conditions over any given year.

We hope.