Miami smashes record with 98 as new heat wave takes hold

CFL heat index

(Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

Get out the sports drinks and the sunscreen — Florida is in the midst of its third heat wave of the summer season.

The entire state was under a heat advisory Wednesday with the exception of South Florida counties and coastal East-Central Florida from Brevard County south. A heat advisory means a “feels like” temperature of at least 108 degrees for at least two hours.

The only reason South Florida isn’t under a heat advisory is because cloud cover and sea breezes may keep heat index readings under 108. Interior areas are also under a greater thunderstorm threat, the National Weather Service said.

Summer started out with a bang this year with actual air temperatures in the triple digits in North Florida for the start of June, followed by another round of extreme heat at the end of the month with extra doses of high humidity added to the mix. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said July would start out hot in Florida and forecasters look to be right on target.

Miami hit 98 (actual air temperature) on Tuesday, thanks to a delayed East Coast sea breeze. That easily busted the old record high of 95. Look for crazy hot readings all over the state on Wednesday, with the exception of the far western panhandle.

“Highs this afternoon will be quite warm, and with high humidities in place, heat index values will be 105-110 this afternoon,” the National Weather Service in Tampa said.

In South Florida and Central Florida, strong storms could be an issue for late in the day, forecasters said, but sea breezes may keep them away from the immediate coast.

RECORD WATCH: In addition to the record high in Miami, four cities tied record warm lows Tuesday. They were Key West, which bottomed out at 84; West Palm Beach, with a low of 80 that matched the original record set 117 years ago in 1902; Daytona Beach, which tied a record low from 1998 with 77 degrees; and Sanford, which tied a record warm low with 78.

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Sea surface temperature anomalies as analyzed by satellite on June 27. (Image credit: NOAA/ NESDIS)

TROPICS WATCH: Hurricane Barbara reached Category 4 status in the eastern Pacific, the season’s first major hurricane. It was heading in the general direction of Hawaii, but was expected to encounter heavy wind shear that should significantly weaken it.

The National Hurricane Center is predicting no tropical threats in the Atlantic through at least Monday, and the major forecast models look clear for the next seven to 10 days.

But in a few weeks we’ll be entering the time of the year to be wary and keep an eye on the forecasts daily.

Water temperatures are astonishingly warm across the tropical and subtropical Atlantic, and warm temperature anomalies stretch all the way from the West Coast of Africa through the the Caribbean and into the Gulf of Mexico. Waters around Florida and the Bahamas are particularly warm.

Also, wind shear is on its way down across the Gulf of Mexico and to the east of Florida, although it’s still high in the Main Development Region of the Atlantic.

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NO-GO ON THE GULF: Dozens of beaches are closed on the northern Gulf coast in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas due to harmful algae blooms, CNN reports through WREG-TV in Memphis. The latest closures occurred in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Authorities say the greenish-blue algae contains bacteria that cause rashes, cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. People are being advised to stay out of the water.

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Another round of brutal heat set to arrive with summer solstice

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The summer solstice occurs Friday at 11:54 a.m. Heat index readings are expected to soar by the end of the week in places like Texas and South Florida. (Image credit: NOAA/ WPC)

Temperatures were a little more subdued around Florida on Saturday, thanks to cloud cover and sea breezes. Most locations turned in highs in the 80s — Pembroke Pines in Broward County reported a high of 81 to the National Weather Service.

Tampa was 87, and it was 89 in both Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach — only the second day this month that the high failed to reach 90 in Miami.

Rain chances finally begin to diminish late in the week, and the National Weather Service in Miami said in its Sunday forecast discussion: “The return of above normal temperatures and triple digit heat indices are also possible across the region by the end of the (forecast) period.”

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RAINFALL REPORT: CoCoRaHS observers near LaBelle in Hendry County reported up to 2.70 inches of rain on Saturday, while an observer east of Lake Placid in Highlands County measured 1.74 inches.

Most of the heavy rain was on or near the West Coast, but an observer in Miami reported 1.80 inches.

Parts of Sarasota County checked in with up to 2 inches, and 2.4 inches were reported in northern Pinellas County.

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TROPICS WATCH: Global forecast models continue to show nothing of significance forming in the Atlantic in the next 10 days, and there’s nothing of interest on the National Hurricane Center Tropical Weather Outlook map through at least Friday. The newly minted version of the GFS shows a system trying to spin up in the northwestern Caribbean off the coast of Belize the last week of June, but fizzling out over the Yucatan Peninsula.

Experts are continuing to weigh in on how the new GFS, which launched last week, will handle tropical storm forecasts. Weather Underground blogger Bob Henson had an interesting post on the subject on Friday, emphasizing NOAA’s prediction that the FV3, the new and improved version of the GFS, will not only be better at track forecasting but also intensity forecasts. The latter has been the most difficult for the NHC to show improvement in, as forecasters themselves will readily admit.

“Once concern,” Henson says, is that apparently the old GFS did better on track accuracy after day six, and that the FV3 did better on forecasting the track for weaker storms. “FV3’s performance on hurricanes versus tropical storms and tropical depressions will bear watching in 2019 and beyond,” he said.

On the other hand, the new model may be better at predicting central pressure of storms that do form, and that could reduce the number of false alarms that the old GFS consistently had during hurricane season.

Henson writes: “The new FV3 makes some big strides toward reducing the number of ‘boguscanes’, according to NOAA/EMC physical scientist Fanglin Yang. The center’s evaluation found that the FV3 reduces the false-alarm rate for tropical cyclogenesis by 48 percent in the Atlantic and 33 percent in the East Pacific, as compared to the previous GFS.”

The jury is out, but we’ll know more in the next month or two as the heart of the season begins to unfold.

Triple digits forecast in panhandle over holiday weekend

Holiday heat wave

Above: forecast temperatures for the end of the week and the beginning of Memorial Day Weekend. Below: the bigger picture — a lot of heat in the Southeast but cool temps in the western U.S. and Rocky Mountain States. (Image credits: NWS-Jacksonville, above; NOAA/ CPC, below)

Memorial Day forecast

While temperatures in the Florida peninsula will be somewhat modified by the cooler waters of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, the upcoming holiday heatwave is expected to bring the season’s first triple-digit temps to the panhandle and points north.

Next Saturday’s forecast high in Tallahassee is 100 degrees and just to the north in Valdosta, Georgia, it could hit 101. Farther north, Columbia, South Carolina is forecast to reach 99 degrees on Saturday.

North Florida will be in the upper 90s and much of Central Florida will be in the mid-90s.

Temperatures have already been creeping up this weekend. It was 93 in Gainesville on Saturday, 91 in Jacksonville, 93 in Marianna in the panhandle, and 91 in Tallahassee and Tampa.

What a difference on the East Coast: Saturday’s high was 83 in Vero Beach and Melbourne; 85 in West Palm Beach and 88 in Miami.

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(Image credit: NHC)

TROPICS WATCH: The Atlantic has sprinted ahead in the race with the northeastern Pacific for the first named storm of the 2019 season.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center upped chances of development for an anticipated low between Bermuda and the Bahamas to 40 percent — that’s medium and warrants an orange crayon — over the next five days as it moves north or northeast. It has a 10 percent chance of development by Tuesday.

The Pacific low pressure system, meanwhile, off the coast of Guatemala, was now drifting west and had a 20 percent chance of development.

The Atlantic system could become either Tropical or Subtropical Storm Andrea. The first name in the Pacific is Alvin.

Florida tourist season extended? North remains in winter mode

Business people in Palm Beach are saying that the tourist/ snowbird season is lasting longer this year. Usually, Florida traffic drops precipitously after Easter and Passover, but this year not so much.

Here may be one reason why: The weather in some of the northern population centers, particularly the Upper Midwest, doesn’t want to shift out its winter mode.

To wit: Chicago on Saturday had its latest accumulating snow in more than 25 years, with 2.5 inches reported at O’Hare International Airport and 3.7 inches to the west in Rockford, Illinois.

“Some parts of the Rockford metro area have had 4-5+ with this event,” National Weather Service forecasters in Chicago said.

Parts of southern Wisconsin received up to 5 inches.

More than 700 flights were canceled at O’Hare and the White Sox – Detroit Tigers game was postponed. The game will be made up on July 3 (weather permitting).

On the East Coast, the Sunday night forecast for Boston is rain with a low of 38. However, Boston is running more than 4 degrees above average this month, with a precipitation surplus of almost 3 inches.

It of course helps that Florida has enjoyed relatively cool and dry weather this month. A series of cold fronts have capped humidity levels, and many nights and mornings have been crisp across the peninsula.

The rainy season starts on May 15 in South Florida, so changes are likely coming in the next two or three weeks,

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(Image credit: NASA via YouTube)

READY TO RUMBLE: a new scientific field, Martian seismology, was born on April 6 after NASA’s Mars lander detected the first ever quake on the planet. Since it can’t be called an Earthquake scientists are calling it a Marsquake.

“This is the first recorded trembling that appears to have come from inside the planet, as opposed to being caused by forces above the surface, such as wind,” the space agency said in a news release.

“We’ve been waiting months for a signal like this,” said Philippe Lognonné, SEIS team lead at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP) in France. “It’s so exciting to finally have proof that Mars is still seismically active. We’re looking forward to sharing detailed results once we’ve had a chance to analyze them.”

There are moonquakes as well, according to NASA. Apollo astronauts recorded “thousands of quakes” on the moon between 1969 and 1977.

Rains wash away all South Florida drought concerns

The Abnormally Dry conditions that have been plaguing South Florida during the winter and early spring have been officially wiped off the map, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported Thursday.

But dry conditions linger in Brevard and Volusia County in East-Central Florida.

The Drought Monitor said Moderate Drought continues in the western Florida panhandle, while the northern tier of Florida counties remain Abnormally Dry.

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JAX boat show weather

(Image credit: NWS-Jacksonville)

HOT FOR THE YACHTS: The forecast is for partly sunny conditions with a steamy high near 88 for the Jacksonville In-Water Boat Show this weekend at Metropolitan Park. But there’s a chance of thunderstorms after 2 p.m. on Sunday. The National Weather Service office will have a booth staffed with meteorologists from the Jacksonville office to answer weather-related questions.

The Storm Prediction Center, meanwhile, has placed the western and central panhandle under a Slight Risk of severe storms on Sunday as the next cold front enters the state.

Rain chances rise to 30 percent all the way down to the southern peninsula.

“This cold front will bring only slightly less warm conditions and somewhat drier weather for Tuesday, before southeasterly winds, moisture, and more above normal temperatures return for the latter half of the week,” National Weather Service forecasters in Miami said Thursday.

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RECORD WATCH: Wednesday was the first day in April that no weather records were set or tied in Marathon. The city in the Middle Keys tied or set temperature records for the first eight days, and a rainfall record was set for the ninth day of the month on Tuesday.

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(Image credit: NOAA/ NCEI)

HERE’S A SWITCH: Usually climatologists are talking about record warmth. But it turns out that nationwide, March was the 44th coolest on record in the U.S. in 125 years of record keeping, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information said this week. Florida had slightly above average minimum temperatures, but close to average temperatures overall.

Only Arizona and New Mexico had above average temperatures, while Washington, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Kentucky had below average temperatures.

However, Florida has had its ninth-warmest year so far (January through March), according to the NCEI analysis.

Nationally, “the year to date (January-March) is running just below average, as the 61st coldest in 125 years of record keeping,” Bob Henson noted in a Weather Underground Category 6 post. “The last time that the contiguous U.S. got off to this cool of a start was in 2014.”

“The bulk of the heartland cold in 2019 unfolded during February and March, ushered in by the ‘polar vortex’ outbreak at the end of January,” he said.

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ONE SMALL STEP FOR A ROBOT: The first private company is scheduled to land a space craft on the moon today, carrying with it a robot that will measure the magnetic field.

The venture was engineered by an Israeli company called SpaceIL which will live-stream the landing at 3 p.m. Thursday.

The lander is called Beresheet after the first word of the Hebrew Bible, which means “in the beginning.” It went into lunar orbit on April 4.

Storms may target peninsula Tuesday with hail, gusty winds

Severe weather outlook Tuesday

Tuesday’s severe weather forecast from the Storm Prediction Center. (Image credit: NOAA/ SPC)

March is going out like a lamb around the Florida peninsula, but April may storm in like a lion with a cold front stalling over the central part of the state and low pressure sliding in from the Gulf of Mexico, the National Weather Service says.

NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center has put almost the entire peninsula under a “Marginal” risk for severe weather on Tuesday, particularly north of Lake Okeechobee.

“A few thunderstorms could be strong with some gusty winds and small hail,” NWS forecasters in Miami said Sunday.

In an assessment of high-end rainfall chances, the National Weather Service in Mebourne says the Daytona Beach area and points north could get as much as 2.5 inches of rain from the system.

Expected rainfall in Central Florida ranges from around a third of an inch north of Lake Okeechobee to around an inch and a half to 2 inches north of Daytona Beach and over to Orlando.

Despite some stormy weather in March, many locations around the state are ending the month with precipitation deficits. Orlando is down 3.08 inches from normal; Daytona Beach is short 3.22 inches; and Vero Beach has a 2.21-inch shortfall.

On the West Coast, Tampa will end March down around an inch; but Fort Myers is down almost 2 inches from average.

In North Florida, Jacksonville has about a 2-inch shortfall and Gainesville is down 2.59 inches. Tallahassee is down 2.80 inches from normal.

South Florida fared a little better: Miami is down around an inch while West Palm Beach is short about an inch and a half. Naples had close to average rainfall in March.

In the Keys, Key West is down slightly from average but Marathon is ending the month with a 1.40-inch shortfall.

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ALASKA ON THIN ICE: As reported on Thursday, Alaska has been experiencing an unprecedented “heat wave” in March that has busted records all over the state. For only the second time in history, Anchorage received no snow at all this month, CNN reports.

And on March 19, a town in southeastern Alaksa, Klawock, reached a high of 70 degrees, the earliest 70-degree reading in Alaska on record.

The National Weather Service was warning people not to venture out on lakes and rivers this weekend due to deteriorating ice conditions.

Meanwhile, earlier in the month it was 71 in Yohin Lake in Canada’s Northwest Territories and 76 in Tofino, British Columbia. On the same day, Seattle set an all-time March temperature record with a high of 79. That was 8 degrees warmer than the March 19 high in Miami of 71.

East Coast wind gusts top 40 mph; drought conditions spread in panhandle

Full Disk - Upper-Level Water Vapor - IR

The low causing Florida’s windy conditions was centered Thursday just off Great Abaco Island in the northern Bahamas.  It was forecast to strengthen as it drifts east. (Image credit: NOAA)

MAXIMUM GUSTS ALONG FLORIDA’S EAST COAST: East Cape Canaveral, 56 mph (120 miles east of Cape Canaveral via National Data Buoy Center); Cape Canaveral, 43 mph; St. Augustine, 42 mph; Lake Worth Pier, 39 mph; West Palm Beach, 35 mph; Fowey Rocks (Biscayne Bay, 33 mph); Jacksonville, 32 mph; and Fort Lauderdale, 29 mph.

RAINFALL REPORT: Orlando Executive Airport reported 1.26 inches, while 1.05 inches fell in Melbourne, according to the National Weather Service. Unofficially, the heftiest rain totals were in northern Brevard County, where almost 4 inches fell near Titusville, according to CoCoRaHS.

An observer in Orange County outside of Orlando reported 2.58 inches.

Gale Warnings and Small Craft Advisories remained in effect for South Florida waters, with a high risk of rip currents at beaches. The low that developed over the Bahamas was forecast to begin sliding east later on Thursday, slowly winding down winds over the Florida peninsula. But Friday will still be breezy, according to the National Weather Service.

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DROUGHT REPORT: As we approach the end of the dry season in Florida — it ends May 15 in the south — the state appears to be in pretty good shape. This week, though, Abnormally Dry conditions expanded from the western tip of the panhandle east into the Central panhandle.

Abnormally Dry conditions still plague parts of the peninsula’s East Coast, including coastal areas of Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Brevard counties. Brevard County got a soaking on Wednesday with the latest cold front, but that won’t be reflected until next week’s U.S. Drought Monitor report.

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ALMOST BEACH WEATHER (IN ALASKA): While Florida temperatures have been normal to even slightly coolish this month, “ludicrous” warmth has invaded the Northwest, according to Weather Underground’s Bob Henson. On March 19, all-time highs were posted at six sites in Alaska, including 67 degrees at Sitka, which is 400 miles from the Arctic Circle.

It was 71 in Yohin Lake in Canada’s Northwest Territories and 76 in Tofino, British Columbia. On the same day, Seattle set an all-time March temperature record with a high of 79. That was 8 degrees warmer than the March 19 high in Miami of 71.

“The rate at which Alaska’s temperature has been warming is twice as fast as the global average since the middle of the 20th century,” Henson wrote, quoting the 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment.

“Temperatures have been increasing faster in Arctic Alaska than in the temperate southern part of the state, with the Alaska North Slope warming at 2.6 times the rate of the continental U.S. and with many other areas of Alaska, most notably the west coast, central interior, and Bristol Bay, warming at more than twice the continental U.S. rate.”