Florida enjoys Chamber of Commerce start to week; winter on hiatus

nfl morning temps

Sunday morning temperatures in North Florida. (Credit: NWS-Jacksonville)

It was pleasantly cool on Sunday around the Florida peninsula, and here’s the interesting thing: The weather nationwide was pretty much ho-hum, a strangely mild end to the first week of January.

First, the early morning post-cold front numbers (from National Weather Service and Weather Underground) around the state and area: 56 in Miami; low 50s in the Palm Beaches; upper 50s in south Miami-Dade County and Upper Keys; mid-60s in Lower Keys; mid-50s on the southwest coast with a few upper 40s in interior areas of South Florida.

Upper 40s were common in the Tampa area over to Orlando, but it was in the low- to mid-50s on the Treasure Coast and Space Coast. North Florida was in the low 40s with upper 40s in the Jacksonville area; and low 40s to upper 30s in the Tallahassee area.

The Northwestern Bahamas were pretty much in the low 60s, except Alice Town in the Biminis east of Miami checked in with 68.

WEIRDLY WARM IN THE DEAD OF WINTER: For the second week of January, the nation’s weather takes a walk on the mild side.

Tuesday’s forecast high in New York is 52; it’s expected to be 58 degrees in Washington (assuming anyone’s there to take a measurement); 64 in Atlanta; 51 in Pittsburgh; 55 in Cincinnati and 42 in Chicago (after an expected high of 57 on Monday).

Monday’s forecast high in St. Louis is 65 (anyone else starting to think about the baseball season?); Minneapolis, 40; Kansas City, 58; and Denver, 54.

Last Vegas will be in the 60s to end the week, while the West Coast is looking to get soaked by winter rains.

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TROPICS WATCH: Chances of development of a low southwest of Baja California dropped to near-zero on Sunday, the National Hurricane Center said, as environmental conditions became hostile. Chances of development were as high as 50 percent at the end of last week.

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Hurricane Center watching for off-season development in Pacific

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TROPICS WATCH: January should be a smoke-em-if-you-got-em time for the staff at the National Hurricane Center, a period deep into the off-season that offers a chance for research and fine-tuning forecast infrastructure. Lo and behold, though, an area of interest has popped up on the Northeastern Pacific Tropical Weather Outlook map, 1,300 miles southwest the tip of Baja California. The broad area of low pressure was moving north and NHC forecasters gave it a 50 percent chance of developing “tropical or subtropical characteristics” over the next five days. “Environmental conditions are expected to become unfavorable for further development by early next week,” forecaster David Zelinsky said. “Regardless of tropical or subtropical cyclone development, the low will likely produce gale-force winds over the weekend.” Tropical systems in the Northeastern Pacific are not entirely unknown in January — four have formed since record keeping began. It seems February is a more unlikely time for tropical development in that area. Only one storm has formed during that month. The Northeastern Pacific hurricane season runs from May 15 to November 30. (Image credit: NHC)

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(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

ABOUT THAT COLD FRONT: It was entering the panhandle on Friday and was forecast to roll through Central and South Florida on Saturday. Unfortunately for South Florida, it looks like it’s going to come through mostly dry.

Forecasters at the National Weather Service in Miami upped rain chances to just 20 percent, and they expected rainfall totals to be less than a tenth of an inch in most places. Eastern and southern portions of the Florida peninsula are still dealing with Moderate Drought conditions, and December ended dry in the southeast.

West Palm Beach ended December with a shortfall of 1.94 inches.

Rain chances are a little higher on the state’s West Coast, forecasters said.

It seems 2018 was either feast or famine for rainfall in the U.S. Bob Henson at Weather Underground has an interesting analysis of the final data for the year. The Mid-Atlantic was drenched in 2018, and the heavy rainfall totals stretched all the way down to the Gulf Coast. Rainfall totals in the Central Florida panhandle were in the top 10 percent compared to other years, but Central and South Florida were unusually dry, along with the western U.S. Mt. Mitchell, North Carolina posted an amazing yearly total of 139.94 inches.

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RECORD WATCH: Fort Lauderdale notched a record warm low temperature on Thursday of 76 degrees, beating the old record of 75 set in 2015. The low in Key West was 78, which broke the previous record warm low of 77, also set in 2015.

Naples scores nation’s high with 87; drought maintains grip on Florida East Coast

Florida had the nation’s high on Wednesday for the seventh day in a row with 87 degrees at Naples. That was also good enough to tie a record high for the date in Naples, matching a mark set 72 years ago in 1947.

It was 85 in Fort Myers, and upper 80s were common in inland Collier County.

The nation’s low on Wednesday was in Alamosa, Colorado: – 24 degrees.

WCFL temps

NO DRAMATIC COOL-DOWN: Temperatures across the peninsula should fall back to near normal after Saturday’s cold front rolls through. (Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

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UPDATE: Drought conditions remained basically unchanged this week in Florida. A large swath of the Florida peninsula is under Moderate Drought, stretching from Brevard County on the East Coast to southern Miami-Dade. The area also encompasses Lake Okeechobee and parts of Collier, Hendry and Glades counties.

The rest of South Florida is Abnormally Dry, including most of Mainland Monroe, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor analysis.

“An active weather pattern brought various amounts of rain across most of the Southeast, with the greatest totals (4-8 inches, locally to 10) located in western sections (Alabama and western Georgia), while 0.5-3 inches was measured at most locations in Virginia, the Carolinas, eastern Georgia, and northern Florida,” NOAA’s David Miskus said.

“The rains missed central and southern Florida, and short-term (90-day) deficits of 3-6 inches have accumulated across southeastern sections of the state, with a few coastal Atlantic areas seeing 6-9 inch shortages.”

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APOLOGIES TO PINK FLOYD: With all of the hoopla over Ultima Thule, the mini-planet 4 billion miles away that was photographed by NASA’s New Horizons on New Year’s Day, it’s probably only fair to point out that China has achieved an astronomical feat of its own — landing on the far side of the moon.

That’s the side of the moon we never see on Earth, although it’s been photographed by satellites and the Apollo astronauts saw it when they made their trips back in the 1960s and ’70s.

“China’s rover will be the first to explore a far side crater, probing it with ground-penetrating radar and measuring its mineral composition with an infrared spectrometer,” NASA writer Tony Phillips said on Spaceweather.com. “If water is present, the rover might find it.”

People often mistakenly refer to the far side of the moon as the dark side of the moon, but the far side gets as much light as the side facing Earth. The misconception is the inevitable result of the 1973 Pink Floyd Album, which still gets plenty of air time here on Earth.

Rain forecast for panhandle while peninsula enjoys warming temps

SFL forecast highs

(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

The New Year’s weekend warm-up has begun in South and Central Florida, with highs running 3-5 degrees above normal — and overnight lows coming in more than 10 degrees above average for this time of the year.

From the Keys to Miami and up into Orlando and Tampa, highs are expected to top 80 through New Year’s Day with winds calming by the weekend under a dome of high pressure, the National Weather Service says.

It looks like forecast highs and lows may be short of record temps, however.

Panhandle rainfall

(Image credit: NWS-Tallahassee)

The situation is a little different in North Florida and the panhandle, where rain associated with a cold front is forecast to dump up to 2 inches of rain in the Central Panhandle with lighter amounts going down into the Big Bend area and Cross City, forecasters in Tallahassee said Thursday.

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DROUGHT UPDATE: Moderate Drought edged farther west into interior counties this week, according to the latest analysis by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Florida’s East Coast, from Brevard County south to southern Miami-Dade County remained under Moderate Drought, but the designation swallowed more inland areas west of Lake Okeechobee and to the north in Osecola County.

Last week’s rains didn’t quite make it into the areas where it’s much-needed. All of Mainland Monroe and most of Collier County remain Abnormally Dry.

Moderate precipitation kept most of the region free of dryness and drought, with the exception of southeastern Florida,” NOAA’s Richard Tinker said. “Three to locally over six inches of precipitation doused the northwestern tier of the D0-D1 areas, eliminating the former D0 areas from approximately Volusia southwestward to parts of Hardee and Polk Counties, but the rain cutoff sharply on its southeastern side, leaving the remaining D0 and most of last week’s D1 intact.”

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NASTY WEATHER NATIONWIDE: While Central and South Florida look forward to some late-December beach weather, the northern plains are getting whacked with a blizzard. Much of the eastern U.S. will be hit with rain this weekend, according to NOAA forecasts, although temperatures are forecast to warm into the 50s as far north as Albany, NY.

But a cooler-than-normal first half of January is in the forecast for most of the South and Eastern U.S., from the Mid-Atlantic States south to the Florida panhandle and west to Texas. Above normal precipitation is also in the forecast for those areas.

Tampa area slammed with more than 3 inches of rain; frigid start to week

WCFL lows

A chilly night/ early Tuesday is in store for the Florida peninsula. (Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

West-Central Florida was the rainfall winner with the passage of Sunday’s cold front. The National Weather Service in Tampa reported a hefty 1.74 inches of rain, the most significant precipitation event so far this month.

CoCoRaHS observers reported more than 3 inches in parts of northern Pinellas and Hillsborough counties

Gainesville checked in with 1.11 inches while Jacksonville recorded 0.63 of an inch.

The panhandle received up to 2 inches from the system — Panama City had a 24-hour total as of 7 a.m. Monday of 2.02 inch.

Rainfall amounts began to fizzle out as the line of showers associated with the front moved down the peninsula.

East-Central Florida still picked up decent rainfall with 1.19 inches falling in Orlando; 0.94 of an inch in Sanford; 0.71 of an inch falling in Daytona Beach; 0.12 in Melbourne and 0.01 of an inch in Vero Beach.

The cold front slid through South Florida with only a few showers — Fort Lauderdale reported 0.20 of an inch, but Miami and Naples only picked up 0.01 of an inch while West Palm Beach reported 0.04 of an inch. That’s going to leave December precipitation deficits in the area of around a half-inch.

And we’re going into yet another dry week in South Florida. The National Weather Service in Miami is predicting no rainfall through at least Thursday as the cool, dry air takes hold.

Another front increases rain chances next weekend, forecasters said.

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GSPSnowfallAnalysisPublic

WINTER BLAST: Parts of North Carolina were buried by almost a foot-and-a-half of snow over the weekend, but rising temperatures this week mean it won’t be sticking around long. Taylorsville, north of Charlotte and east of Asheville, reported 17.5 inches of snow. Map above credit NWS-Greenville/ Spartanburg.

NOAA warms to long-term outlook; Florida braces for stormy Sunday

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(Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

The Midwest and Northeast had early tastes of winter with snow and cold temperatures right after Thanksgiving. The takeaway may have been to strap on your seat belt for an unusually wicked winter.

But now some interesting things are happening with long-term forecasts — there seems to be a decided lack of blue, NOAA’s symbol for below normal temperatures.

In the contiguous U.S., from coast to coast and North to South, no below normal temps are forecast through at least January 4. The latest three- to four-week forecast from NOAA, published Friday, predicts above normal temperatures everywhere, including the Florida peninsula over the Christmas holidays from December 20 to January 4.

A chunk of the South and Southwest, from the Florida panhandle west through Texas and the Desert Southwest, have equal chances of above or below normal temps.

In fact, the only patch of blue — representing a call for below normal temperatures — appeared on the December forecast map for a small area of Utah, Nevada and Idaho. That’s it.

The NOAA forecasts are reflected in the ultra-long-range city forecasts. Starting Sunday, Chicago is forecast to have above-freezing temperatures every day through Saturday, January 5. New York is forecast to be mostly in the 40s for the rest of the month and into the first week of January.

Close to normal temperatures are predicted for Florida, with warmer temps over the holiday week.

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Storm setup Tampa

(Image credit: NWS-Tampa)

STORMY SUNDAY: Rain and even some potentially severe weather will be on the radar Sunday as a storm system rolls along Florida’s northern tier of counties, the National Weather Service says. Highest rain totals will be in the western panhandle, according to NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center, which is calling for up to 3 inches west of Tallahassee.

Totals of up to an inch may fall in North-Central Florida, tapering off to around a half-inch in northern parts of South Florida, from around Fort Myers east to Lake Okeechobee and over to West Palm Beach.

NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center has parts of Florida’s West Coast, from around Fort Myers to the Tampa area, under a Marginal threat for severe weather on Sunday. Thunderstorms could pop up anywhere on the peninsula.

Sunday storms

(Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

The National Weather Service in Melbourne says: “Make sure to stay weather aware this coming Sunday as some strong storms are in the forecast. Isolated severe storms will be also be possible, but a lot of specifics remain uncertain. Keep checking back as the forecast will be fine-tuned as we get closer.”

North Florida heads for the deep freeze; weekend rebound in forecast

NFL Freeze Warning

The coldest weather of the season has arrived with Freeze Warnings for Northwest Florida as far south as Cross City and western Alachua County. (Image credits: NWS-Jacksonville, above; NWS-Tallahassee, below)

Panhandle Freeze Warning

Out of the frying pan and into the refrigerator.

That’s the mid-week forecast for the Florida peninsula and the panhandle, with freeze warnings as far south as western Alachua County and a Freeze Watch for areas as far south as inland Hernando County.

Monday was the end of the warm weather … but only until the weekend when the forecast is for yet another round of above normal temps.

COMPARE AND CONTRAST: Melbourne set a record high Monday with 87, edging out the old record of 86 set in 1992. Vero Beach tied a record high with 85. And Key West tied a record warm low of 78 set in 1986.

Unofficially in South Florida Monday, it was 89 in Margate and 90 at Zoo Miami.

Now here’s the Wednesday morning wake-up weather and forecast highs:

Miami, 53 and 66; West Palm Beach, 49 and 65; Melbourne, 41 and 60; Orlando, 39 and 57 with patchy frost early Thursday morning and a low of 36; Tampa, 42 and 59; Jacksonville, 34 (with wind chill values as low as 26 degrees) and 55; Lake City, 30 and 53; Tallahassee, 31 and 55.

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Tuesday snow cover
NOVEMBER GOES OUT LIKE A LION: There’s impressive snow cover across the northern U.S. — and it’s not even December. Chicago was officially socked Sunday night and Monday with 8.4 inches of snow at O’Hare International Airport. And Rockford reported almost a foot — 11.7 inches, a new record for November snowfall. Rockford has received 15.6 inches this month, the snowiest November on record. (Image credit: NOAA/ National Snow Analysis)