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.

(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.


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.


(Image credit: NOAA/ NESDIS)

2019 wrap, decade wrap, and what Mark Twain (reportedly) said …

WEEKEND COLD FRONT UPDATE: Three days out, Sunday morning forecast temperatures are on track to be the coolest since early December, as per the National Weather Service.

This is the time of the year to keep a look out for those Polar Express fronts that leave tourists grumbling and locals searching the far reaches of their back closet to find warmer sweaters or jackets. It doesn’t look like anything too radical at this point, and some people do like a chilly day or two.

But NWS forecasters in Miami posted this caveat: “Sunday afternoon, values could struggle to reach 70. Those with agricultural interests may want to keep a close eye on the forecast as trends could change.”


(Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

In any event, temps should bounce back relatively quickly, and the new January forecast from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, released Tuesday, calls for overall above normal temperatures in Florida.


DECEMBER WRAP: The month goes into the books wet and warm across most of the peninsula, as well as the Keys and North Florida. Miami crossed the finish line with temperatures 3 degrees above normal — there were 22 days with highs in the 80s and the high only failed to reach 70 once, on December 3 (68). Precipitation was 4.39 inches above average.

Key West was 3.9 degrees above average and finished December with a 5.49-inch rainfall surplus.

Orlando was 4.9 degrees above average with a rainfall surplus of 2.37 inches.

Tampa was 4.5 degrees above normal with precipitation 2.02 inches on the plus side.

Jacksonville topped out 5.4 degrees above normal with a 2.06-inch rainfall surplus.

Tallahassee was an exception to the precipitation trend in Florida — it was a bone-dry fall with the exception of October — by turning in a rainfall shortfall of 0.44 of an inch. Temperatures were still 4.6 degrees above normal, however.


2019 WRAP: In Miami, every month of the year ended with above normal temperatures with the exception of January, which were down 0.2 of a degree.

In Orlando, every single month of 2019 had temperatures above the 30-year average, and February was wildly out of whack, with temps 7.1 degrees above normal.

Ditto for Tampa, except November temperatures came in dead-on normal.


DECADE WRAP: Floridians spent some of the 2010s dodging catastrophe, managing to side-step the brunt of hurricanes Sandy (2012), Matthew (2016), and Dorian (2019). The Keys weren’t as lucky with Irma (2017) and the panhandle was clobbered by Michael (2018).


DECADE LOOK-AHEAD: Lots of people want to compare the new decade to The Roaring Twenties of the last century. It has a catchy ring to it and portends excitement. But history doesn’t repeat, it only rhymes, according to Mark Twain.

Besides, the 1920s had some horrific hurricanes, including the 1926 Miami Hurricane, the 1928 hurricane that killed thousands in the Glades, and the last major hurricane to slam Tampa in 1921 (also known as the 1921 Tarpon Springs Hurricane).

I have a feeling that the big story of the new decade in Florida will be accelerating climate change and the accompanying sea level rise that’s already forcing government officials to make tough decisions in the Keys.

Of course, as always, expected the unexpected.

Record rains continue in South Florida; surge of winter warmth in Midwest

As the year and the decade draw to a close, the question is: What happened to winter?

December is the heart of the dry season on the Florida peninsula, and this month has been anything but. Precipitation patterns have been acting more like June, or September, with record rains first slamming the Fort Lauderdale area last weekend, and the Palm Beach area this weekend.

On Saturday, West Palm Beach picked up 2.23 inches of rain, a new record that easily washed away the old mark of 1.85 inches set 70 years ago on December 28, 1949.

All four major observation centers in South Florida — Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm and Naples — are all way ahead on rainfall for the month, and not just by a little. Average rainfall in September in Fort Lauderdale is 8.59 inches; the city already has racked up 9.71 inches for December.

Rainfall on the West Coast is running 2-4 inches above average for the month.

ECFL rainfall

While the heavy rains that soaked parts of South Florida Saturday were expected to taper off on Sunday, more rain was forecast for the East-Central peninsula. (Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

High temperatures haven’t been wildly out of whack due to the rain and cloud cover, but overall temps across Florida have nevertheless been above normal thanks to anomalously warm lows. This has extended well into Central Florida as well, with Orlando tying a record warm low on Saturday at 70 degrees. Fort Pierce set a record warm low Friday with 72.

Dew point temperatures have been hovering around the soupy 70 degree mark in Central Florida as well as South Florida.

That’s in Florida, but what about the rest of the country? Sunday’s forecast high in Chicago is 61. Rain and snow are set to close out the month, but by Thursday the forecast high is back up to 46.

Chicago warmth

(Image credit: NWS-Chicago)

National Weather Service forecasters in Chicago said in a special report: “What is Noteworthy About This? While 50s and even 60s certainly do happen in December, this prolonged duration was particularly noteworthy because it was accompanied with a great deal of sunshine and occurred late in the month (more rare) and overlapped the Christmas holiday.

“The weather pattern for several weeks had generally been a mild one. In fact December 2019 has only had five days with below normal temperatures in Chicago.

“The pattern has also been notably drier than much of the autumn was. The drier pattern has resulted in well below normal snowfall for December, and without snow on the ground locking in colder air, any cold surge has been temporary. Finally, southerly winds were dominant for days, resulting in inching up temperatures, and the sunny pattern (helped by lack of snow cover in the region), further resulted in warming.”

St. Louis is expected to hit 60 on Sunday, and after a brief mid-week cool-down the forecast high for next Saturday is 55.

On the East Coast, New York is forecast to be in the mid- to upper-40s all week, although New Year’s Eve is expected to be typically chilly, with a low around 33.

The only wintry game in town: A winter storm was bringing heavy snow to the Dakotas, Minnesota and northern Wisconsin; and it was forecast to drop freezing rain in parts of New England.

Back in South Florida: “Overnight low temperatures New Years Eve into New Years day are forecast to drop into the upper 50s to low 60s, with high temperatures New Years Day in the mid-70s [accompanied by] widespread sunshine and brisk northerly to northeasterly winds,” the National Weather Service in Miami said Sunday.

“Temperatures then jump aboard the all to familiar warming trend train for the remainder of the forecast period with overnight low temperatures running about 10 to 15 degrees above seasonal norms.”

November wrap: More rainfall deficits; closer to normal temps

EXTRA BLANKET REQUIRED: More news about Monday’s cold front: Forecast models keep adjusting low temperatures down across the Florida peninsula, and further changes could be coming.

As it stands on Sunday, Tuesday morning lows in Glades County could reach 40 degrees, and forecasters at the National Weather Service in Miami said: “Keep in mind that adjustments to these readings are still possible as we fine tune the forecast going forward. Those with agricultural interests, particularly across the northern inland portions of South Florida and the Lake Okeechobee region, will want to keep up with this forecast.”

As of Sunday, there were no cold weather watches or warnings in Florida but that could change on Monday.


Dec forecast

(Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

NOVEMBER WRAP: Monthly temperatures in North Florida were below normal, and Tallahassee once again led the state in rainfall deficits, after the driest October on record.

Areas of Central Florida and South Florida had close to normal temperatures, with the exception of Fort Lauderdale (which ended the month 1.3 degrees below average with a 2.69 precipitation surplus) and Naples (1.7 degrees above normal and a slight rainfall shortage of 0.34 of an inch).

In West-Central Florida, Tampa had dead-normal temperatures in November, with an average high of 78 and an average low of 60. Precipitation was an inch below average. But Sarasota was 2.3 degrees above average, with a precipitation shortfall of 1.40 inches. And Fort Myers was a half-degree above average and had a 0.71 rainfall deficit.

CLOSER LOOK: Miami, 1 degree above average; – 1.65 inches precip; and West Palm Beach, half of a degree above normal; – 1.54 inches precip.

Keys: Key West, + 2.5 degrees, – 1.26 inches; Marathon, +1.9 degrees, – 2.52 inches.

East-Central: Daytona Beach, – 0.9 degrees, – 0.94 of an inch; Orlando, + 0.5 of a degree, – 1.01 inches; Melbourne, + 0.1 of a degree; – 1.38 inches; Vero Beach, + 0.2, -1.43;

North Florida: Jacksonville, – 1.9 degrees; +1.58 inches; Gainesville, – 2.1 degrees, – 0.23 of an inch; Tallahassee, – 1.8 degrees; – 2.63 inches.

NOTE: Saturday was the end of November and the end of meteorological fall. Astronomical winter begins Saturday, December 21 at 11:19 p.m. But for record keeping purposes, winter is divided neatly into a three-month period from December 1 to February 29 (yes there’s an extra day of winter this year thanks to leap year.)

Autumn 2019 (September 1 – November 30) will likely go into the record books as having above normal temperatures around Florida with significant rainfall deficits.

DECEMBER OUTLOOK: Despite the cold start to the new month, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for above normal temperatures — not just in Florida but across the entire U.S., with the exception of Nevada and parts of the Desert Southwest. Rainfall in Florida is forecast to be below normal this month.

The new NOAA forecast was released Saturday.

Orlando, Miami post hottest Octobers on record; reset clocks on Sunday

ECFL record Oct

It was an October to remember for many cities in Central and South Florida. (Image credits: NWS-Melbourne, above; NWS-Miami, below)

SFL temp records

A slew of Florida cities had their warmest October on record, the National Weather Service said Friday.

That includes Miami and Orlando, the latter of which busted a century-old monthly temperature record set in 1919.

In South Florida, West Palm Beach smashed an October temperature record — the daily average of highs and lows for each of the 31 days — that had been on the books since 1911.

Naples set an October record as well, while Fort Lauderdale missed tying its monthly record by a tenth of a degree.

In Central Florida, Vero Beach and Daytona Beach had their warmest October, while Melbourne and Sanford had their second warmest and Fort Pierce had its third warmest.

Jacksonville turned in its sixth-warmest October, although at Jacksonville International Airport, where official readings have been taken since 1971, it was the warmest.

Temperatures crashed on Friday as a cold front ripped through North Florida, but the front stalled out and the hits kept on coming in South Florida and the Keys, where November picked up just as October left off.

Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers and Key West set or tied record highs — with 89, 91 and 88, respectively — and Miami and Naples checked in with record warm minimum temps.

The cold front that gave North and parts of Central Florida its first taste of refreshing fall air before stalling near Lake Okeechobee, was forecast to see-saw up and down the peninsula this weekend and into early next week, keeping rain chances high for Central and South Florida.


(Image credit: NWS-Key West)

LET THEIR BE LIGHT (IN THE MORNING): Anybody else tired of getting up when it’s still dark? That will change on Sunday as Daylight Saving Time ends. Don’t forget to set your clocks back an hour.

Efforts to keep Florida on DST all year have failed to pass congress (luckily). It’s a lousy idea, in my opinion, to make kids go to school in the dark so that tourists can squeeze in another nine holes of golf. Hopefully this proposal goes on to the legislative scrap heap.

Cold front sends Florida’s October heat wave packing

Cold front ECFL

(Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

October was another hot and dry month across South Florida and the Keys — while Central and North Florida were rescued from a second consecutive dry month by Tropical Storm Nestor.

Miami ended the month 3.6 degrees above average, with 14 warm temperature records set or tied. Most of them were record warm lows.

At the same time, Miami finished up with a rainfall deficit of 2.40 inches.

Fort Lauderdale was down 3.51 inches; but West Palm Beach checked in with a quarter-inch surplus, due mostly to a fluky 1.78-inch downpour on October 9.

Temperatures in Key West were 3.2 degrees above average; 3.4 degrees in Marathon. Both cities had moderate rainfall deficits.

In the record books, October 2019 will look like a wet and wild month in Daytona Beach, which was soaked with a whopping 13.82 inches of rain, a 9.51-inch surplus. (Temps were an impressive 5.3 degrees above average.)

However, almost 4 inches of that fell on October 19 as Tropical Storm Nestor passed by to the west, a storm that technically made landfall in the Florida peninsula but dumped almost all of its precipitation on the northern and central peninsula.

Ditto for Orlando, which picked up 3.17 inches on the 19th and another 1.26 inches on the 25th. Temperatures in Orlando were an impressive 5.6 degrees above average.

The Tampa area was hammered by rain from Nestor, and the city came in 4.68 inches above average for October rainfall. Temps were 4.9 degrees above average. Rainfall in St. Petersburg was more than 5 inches above normal.

Jacksonville turned in a small rainfall deficit last month, but both Jacksonville and Gainesville were around 5 degrees above average for temperatures.

The big story in Tallahassee was October heat — the city was 6 degrees above average, tops in the state for temperature anomalies. Tallahassee managed an inch precipitation surplus after the driest September on record, when just a trace of rain fell.

COLD FRONT UPDATE: How is this for a change in the weather: Apalachicola posted a record high Thursday of 86, but on Friday morning the temperature had plunged to 42, with a dew point of 35 degrees.

This is the no-foolin’-around cold front that brought more than 4 inches of snow to southern Wisconsin and up to 2 inches in and around Chicago.

Frost Advisories were posted for parts of southern Alabama on Friday night/ Saturday morning, including areas northwest of Dothan, which is just a hop, skip and jump from the Florida state line.

The front was cruising into Central Florida on Friday morning. It was 68 in Orlando but 54 in Gainesville with a few upper 30s in the panhandle. It was 83 in Cape Coral and 34 in Crestview in the western panhandle, according to Weather Underground.

The front was forecast by the National Weather Service to stall out near Lake Okeechobee, and drift around until it dissipates early next week.


RECORD WATCH: Pre-cold-front, Florida’s hot October weather kept on keeping on. In addition to the record high in Apalachicola, Daytona Beach tied a record high with 89, matching a mark set in 1994.

Miami tied another record warm low with 79, matching the record set 108 years ago in 1911.

Other record warm lows were set or tied in Fort Lauderdale (80); Naples (75); Key West (81); Orlando (74); and Sanford (74).


TROPICS WATCH: The area of disturbed weather being watched by the National Hurricane Center in the Central Atlantic ran out of time and is forecast to encounter hostile conditions on Friday. Forecasters reduced development chances to near zero.

September was driest on record in Florida, new report says

September FL rainfall

(Image credit: NOAA/ NCEI)

HOW DRY WE WERE: Florida had its driest September on record, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information reported Tuesday. Normally, September is the wettest month of the year — along with June — in South and Central Florida. But dry air enveloped the state from the panhandle to the Keys, causing drought conditions to move into the panhandle and northern tier of counties.

By county, Palm Beach, Collier, Lee, and Hendry counties had their driest September on record, as did all of the counties in the western panhandle. No county in the state had an above average, or even an average, month for rainfall.

In the southeastern U.S., Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and West Virginia also had their driest September on record.

September was also the third-hottest on record in Florida, a trend that continued into October in the northern parts of the state and the panhandle.

Broward and Indian River had their hottest September.

RAINFALL REPORT: Some decent rains have fallen across the peninsula in the last few days — which should be enough to prevent drought from spreading south from the northern tier of Florida counties. However, dry conditions with abnormally low rainfall is in the new 6-10 day forecast from the Climate Prediction Center.

Wednesday morning 24 hour CoCoRaHS totals: 3.33 inches near Deerfield Beach; 1-1.5 inches Miami-Dade; 2.44 inches northeast of Tampa in Hillsborough County; 3.12 inches west of Orlando; and 3.5 inches near Daytona Beach.

“A weak front, deep moisture and support aloft will produce a high coverage of rain with embedded storms today,” National Weather Service forecasters in Melbourne said. “Bands of heavy rain initially along the Volusia coast this morning will develop south and west during the day. Up to 3 inches of rain possible in a short time. Motorists, slow down in heavy rain to reduce the risk of hydroplaning.”

COOL-DOWN COMING? The weekend of the 18-20, the GFS shows lows edging down into the low 50s in the western panhandle, with upper 60s across the peninsula. It’s not exactly Currier and Ives weather, but we’ll take it.

TROPICS WATCH: The National Hurricane Center is continuing to watch three systems in the Atlantic. None of them are a threat to Florida, and development chances have been decreasing. The GFS is still showing longer-range development in the southern Caribbean, but it shoves the systems to the west into Central America.