It’s been a ‘no winter’ winter, but stay tuned …

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(Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

The Boston Globe says: “There’s been no winter this winter.”

The city has had less than half its normal amount of snow so far this meteorological winter (December through February) and temperatures have been as warm as the 60s, even in January. Today’s forecast for Boston: sunny with a high of 63.

Temperatures have also been radically above-normal this winter across Florida.

But for much of the eastern U.S., including Florida, it looks like winter weather may be jammed in to the first week or so of March which, ironically, is the start of meteorological spring.

In our neck of the woods, temperatures are poised to fall off a cliff Wednesday night as a potent cold front rolls through, keeping winds out of the north for the weekend. Highs will be stuck in the 60s, even in South Florida, with lows in the 40s — low 40s in Central Florida; near freezing in parts of North Florida.

Temperatures around the state don’t really rebound until Tuesday, and after that temps return to more seasonal levels, which means around 80 in South Florida and upper 70s in Central Florida.

Some heavy snow is set to close out February in the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes States. Even so, the winter of 2019-20 will probably go into the books as one of the top five warmest on record, according to meteorologists.

Forecasters see cool start to March; meteor smacks Dominican Republic

Forecast rainfall

The cold front that eventually makes it through South Florida on Wednesday and Thursday is expected to stall over North Florida as early as Monday, delivering some heavy rainfall to the area. (Image credit: NWS-Jacksonville)

SUNDAY UPDATE: Another round of heavy rain showers hit Palm Beach County’s coast Saturday night, leading to the cancellation of the Houston Astros/ Washington Nationals first spring training game in West Palm Beach, a game that was billed as a World Series rematch for the teams.

The teams were scheduled to meet Sunday afternoon. Rain chances were forecast to diminish throughout the day. Saturday night’s game was canceled after two innings.

Although the rain wasn’t as heavy as Friday night’s round of showers, a CoCoRaHS observer in Boynton Beach, south of West Palm, reported 0.93 of an inch in his backyard bucket. Parts of West Palm Beach received more than half an inch.

Coastal Broward County picked up around a quarter of an inch, and a few hundredths of an inch fell on the Treasure Coast. There were also some light showers in the Upper Keys.

Temperatures rebound into the 80s through Wednesday, after which a potent cold front is forecast to drive overnight temperatures down into the 40s, even in parts of coastal South Florida, with highs only in the 60s through the early part of next weekend. That’s around 10-plus degrees below normal for this time of the year.

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Forecast for the first week of March. (Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

ORIGINAL POST: Go figure. Meteorological winter ends next Saturday, and December 1 – February 29 is almost certain to go into the books with well above normal temperatures for the season. But just as spring gets ready to launch, a shot of Arctic air is poised to give Florida a January-type chill.

“Confidence is building that a chillier pattern may emerge behind the front late in the week,” National Weather Service forecasters in Miami said in their Saturday morning forecast discussion.

Friday morning lows/ Friday afternoon forecast highs: Miami, 53 and 67; Orlando, 42 and 60; Tampa, 44 and 62; Jacksonville, 37 and 60.

Forecast for Sunday, March 1: Miami barely makes 70; Orlando stays in the 60s on Sunday and doesn’t make 72 until Monday; ditto for Tampa, which makes 73 on Monday, the second day of March. (Weather Underground forecasts)

Ultra-long-term, AccuWeather is calling for below normal temperatures through most of March. And, as mentioned yesterday, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting above normal precipitation in Florida during March.

The new eight- to 14-day forecast issued by NOAA Friday calls for only two states to have below normal temperatures through the first week of March — Florida and Alaska.

The reaction of many Florida residents will be, well, enjoy the cool temps while you can because some serious heat can’t be too far away. But tourists and spring breakers who are beach-bound in March might be a little disappointed.

However, the pattern could change later in the month, as indicated by the CPC’s four-week forecast, which was also issued Friday. That contradicts the long-range AccuWeather forecast, calling for above normal temperatures in Florida from March 7-20.

RAINFALL REPORT: Most of the U.S. was dry Friday, the one exception being Florida’s East Coast and particularly, the southeast coast. The action was focused on coastal Palm Beach County, where 1.20 inches of rain was reported through 7 a.m. Saturday on Singer Island, according to CoCoRaHS.

An observer in the Boca Raton area reported 1.06 inches; and an observer in Deerfield Beach, Broward County, reported 1.16 inches.

Miami-Dade had just a few sprinkles, while observers on the Treasure Coast reported a few hundredths of an inch.

IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE: A “small” space rock crashed into the atmosphere above the Dominican Republic during the early morning hours on Friday, Spaceweather.com reported.

“The fireball was so bright, many cameras recorded the flash,” science writer Tony Phillips said. A webcam in the U.S. Virgin Islands captured the event.

“An all-sky camera operated by the Sociedad de Astronomia del Caribe in Puerto Rico also saw it.”

Locals may be out looking for meteorites this weekend.

NOAA beefs up its computer capacity with major upgrade

Computer capacity

(Image credit: NWS-Key West)

NOAA is poised to triple its computing capacity over the next two years, the agency announced Thursday.

In a news release, NOAA said it added “two new Cray computers” the so-called supercomputers from Hewlett Packard, each with a capacity of 12 petaflops, which will become operational in 2022.

“Coupled with NOAA’s research and development supercomputers in West Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Colorado, which have a combined capacity of 16 petaflops, the supercomputing capacity supporting NOAA’s new operational prediction and research will be 40 petaflops,” the agency said.

“This increase in high-performance computing will triple the capacity and double the storage and interconnect speed, allowing NOAA to unlock possibilities for better forecast model guidance through higher-resolution and more comprehensive Earth-system models, using larger ensembles, advanced physics, and improved data assimilation.”

I know what you’re thinking: What’s a petaflop?

I googled it and found this definition: “A unit of computing speed equal to one thousand million million floating-point operations per second.”

Does that clear it up? No, it doesn’t for me, either. But it sounds like these are some heavy-duty, ultra-high-tech, sci-fi-quality mega-machines, so get ready for some pinpoint forecasts.

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RECORD WATCH: Marathon tied a record high Thursday with 86. The original record was set last year. Record warm minimum temperatures were set or tied in Miami (74); Naples (73); and Key West (77).

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SPRING-SUMMER SNEAK PEEK: In addition to the new March forecast released Thursday by NOAA (see yesterday’s post), the agency also issued updated long-range predictions. Below are the forecasts for April-June, the top graphic for temps and the bottom for precip. (Image credits: NOAA/ CPC)

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New March forecast for Florida: Cool and wet

March temps

(Image credits: NOAA/ CPC)

March precip

THE UPDATED MARCH FORECAST IS OUT: The forecast, released by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center Thursday, calls for equal chances of above- or below-normal temperatures in Central and South Florida in March, but below normal temps in the panhandle and North Florida.

Above normal rainfall is predicted throughout all of Florida, including the panhandle.

Taking a closer look, Thursday runs of the GFS suggest that a strong cold front will knock temperatures back to end the month, with lows in the 40s and highs in the 60s next weekend across the peninsula. Ditto for the first weekend of March, as lows sink into the single digits in the Upper Midwest.

In fact, long-range models show a cool first half of March across the country, from California to New England.

In any case, normal highs and lows around Florida start ticking up impressively in March. On March 1, normal highs and lows in Miami are 79 and 71; and 82 and 74 on March 31. Orlando: 76 and 54 to 80 and 58; and Tampa, 74 and 56 to 78 and 60.

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COOL WEEKEND: Forecast highs and lows on Saturday include 71 and 66 in Miami; 67 and 53 in Orlando; and 70 and 51 in Tampa. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph in some areas, the National Weather Service said, so it looks like a rather blustery weekend.

A warm-up begins on Monday.

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RECORD WATCH: Orlando tied a record high Wednesday with 88, matching the mark set in 1962. It was 87 in Marathon, which also tied a record high for February 19 set just last year.

Record warm lows were set or tied in Orlando (67); Miami (75, beating the old record of 74 set in 1929); Fort Lauderdale (75); West Palm Beach (75); Naples (73); Key West (78); Daytona Beach (67); Sanford (68); and Leesburg (69).

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DROUGHT UPDATE: Severe Drought (D2) has taken hold in the central Panhandle, mostly Franklin and Liberty counties. The Tallahassee area is under Moderate Drought (D1), according to the report released Thursday. Northwest Florida is Abnormally Dry as is the Tampa area.

Climate change shocker: Third of all species could be extinct by 2070

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An Alligator Juniper in Prescott, Arizona. The species is being pushed up into the mountains by climate change, a new study says. (Image credit: Tom Check via Wikimedia Commons)

Most people consider sea level rise the biggest problem related to climate change, and that is a critical issue, especially if you live in coastal areas and states like Florida. But here’s another dire consequence: a third of all plants and animal species could be extinct in the next 50 years.

Researchers at the University of Arizona looked at localized plant and animal extinctions in the past that have occurred in specific areas. They found that up to 50 percent of species suffered local extinctions if maximum temperatures increased by more than 0.5 degrees Celsius and 95 percent if they increased by more than 2.9 degrees.

As a result, the rate of extinction is highly dependent on how much warming occurs in the coming years, according to the researchers, Cristian Román-Palacios and John Wiens, of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona.

“In a way, it’s a ‘choose your own adventure,'” said Wiens. “If we stick to the Paris Agreement to combat climate change, we may lose fewer than two out of every 10 plant and animal species on Earth by 2070. But if humans cause larger temperature increases, we could lose more than a third or even half of all animal and plant species, based on our results.”

As one example, they considered the Alligator Juniper tree in Arizona. In flat lands, the plants are dying due to rising daytime temperatures. “Repeated surveys have shown that this species is literally being pushed up the mountain slopes under the impact of climate change,” the university said in a news release.

Here’s the kicker: Extinctions are projected to be two to four times more common in the tropics than in temperate regions. “This is a big problem, because the majority of plant and animal species occur in the tropics,” Román-Palacios said.

Both plant and animal species will be equally affected, the researchers said.

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SPRING IN THE AIR: Clear skies with plenty of sunshine will give temperatures a boost through at least Thursday of this week, with highs rising into the low 80s on the East Coast and as high as the upper 80s in southwestern parts of the Florida peninsula, according to the National Weather Service.

Beyond that, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for below normal temperatures in all of Florida from next Saturday into the following week.

NOAA will release its full March forecast on Thursday. The latest long-range CFS model shows cooler weather hanging on the first week of March followed by above normal temperatures as we head into the second half of the month.

RECORD WATCH: Vero Beach posted a record warm low Sunday of 71 degrees. It beat the old record of 70 set in 1965.

Nice week on tap for Florida peninsula; January was record warm worldwide;

With strong easterly winds and a cold front stalled out over the Keys, some decent rainfall totals were occurring over southeastern Florida and the Keys. A CoCoRaHS observer for the national precipitation network reported 1.54 inches in Key Largo from Saturday through early Sunday morning.

An observer in North Miami Beach reported 1.24 inches; and an observer in Fort Lauderdale reported 1.45 inches.

Palm Beach County reported around a quarter of an inch. Lighter amounts fell along the Treasure Coast.

Another nice warm-up is scheduled for the coming work week, but then a cold front knocks temperatures back to below normal next weekend, just in time for the start of the exhibition baseball season.

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(Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

The Climate Prediction Center is calling for February to go out on a slightly cooler note, especially the southern tier of states from New Mexico all the way to the Carolinas and the Mid-Atlantic States on the East Coast.

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Global temps

(Image credit: NOAA/ NCEI)

ANOTHER JANUARY, ANOTHER RECORD: Earth had its warmest January in the 141-year-old record, the National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI) said on Thursday.

Temperatures worldwide were 2.05 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, which beat the previous record for the warmest January by 0.04 of a degree. That occurred in January 2016.

“The four warmest Januaries on record have occurred since 2016, while the 10 warmest Januaries have occurred since 2002,” NCEI, a NOAA agency, reported. “The only Januaries with a global land and ocean surface temperature departure from average above 1.0°C (1.8°F) occurred in 2016 and 2019.”

The contiguous U.S. had its fifth warmest January, with records in that category going back 126 years. Hawaii had its second warmest January but Alaska had its coldest January since 2012. In fact, it tied 1970 as the 13th coldest January on record.

Every state in the Lower 48 had above normal temperatures, including Florida, which was above average but not record warm. Highest temperature anomalies were found in Texas and Oklahoma, the Great Lakes States, and the Northeast.

The Caribbean had its second warmest January, also behind 2016.

So I figured it was a good time to take a peek at sea surface temperatures in the Caribbean and the Main Development Region of the tropical Atlantic. It’s early, of course, but very warm water temperatures seem to be setting up shop from the coast of Africa all the way west into the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.

Particularly high temperature anomalies are in place off the U.S. East Coast, with the highest being in the Mid-Atlantic.

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(Image credit: NOAA/ NESDIS)

Orlando sizzles; only slight cool-down expected from weekend front

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NEXT WEATHER MAKER: The cold front entering the panhandle Thursday was on its way to the Keys, where it was expected to wash out over the weekend. Temperatures will edge down slightly over the weekend before rebounding again next week, according to the National Weather Service. (Image credit: NOAA)

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That Mickey Mouse suit is starting to get a little uncomfortable. Orlando tied an 81-year-old record high Wednesday with a sultry 88 degrees, matching the mark originally set way back in 1939.

Record highs were also set in Sanford with 87, beating the old record of 86 set in 2018; Leesburg with 86 (tied with 2013); and Jacksonville (high of 84 matched the record set just one year ago). Naples tied a record high for the second day in a row with 89.

Record warm minimum temps were tied or set in Fort Lauderdale (74); West Palm Beach (76); and Naples (72).

National Weather Service forecasters said earlier this week they wouldn’t be surprised to see a few 90-degree temps around South Florida, and that’s what happened Wednesday, with a few popping up out in the Everglades.

Naples Municipal Airport, where official temperatures are kept by the National Weather Service in Miami, reported a high of 89.6 degrees, but it was rounded down to 89. But an unofficial observation site near Everglades City reported a high of 91. And the Bureau of Land Management reported a high of 90 at Big Cypress Swamp north of Alligator Alley.

A cold front that was just entering the Florida panhandle today was forecast to roll down the peninsula on Friday, bringing scattered rain showers as it heads to the Keys, where forecasters expect it to stall out.

On a scale of 1-10, 10 being a lallapalooza that brings heavy rain and thunderstorms, followed by a shot of frigid air, this front should rank at about a minus-1. The National Weather Service is calling for less than a quarter of an inch in Central Florida and perhaps up to a third of an inch at the southern tip of the peninsula as the front stalls just to the south.

Then, after a Saturday with close to normal temperatures, another warm-up begins with more highs in the 80 forecast for next week.

A shot of more wintry air is still suggested by forecast models for the last weekend of the month.

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DROUGHT UPDATE: Areas of West-Central Florida affected by Abnormally Dry conditions shrank slightly in the latest analysis of drought conditions in Florida by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Sarasota County returned to normal status and the designation was removed from parts of Manatee, Hillsborough and Hardee counties.

However, Abnormally Dry conditions spread in North Florida, crossing the state from around Citrus County on the Gulf to Flagler County on the Atlantic. A small swath of the Central Panhandle remained under Moderate Drought.