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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statewidetavgrank-201903

(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.

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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.”

Cool & dry to start the weekend; ‘Supermoon’ causes coastal flooding

Red Flag Warning

FIRE ALERT: Low humidity caused a Red Flag Warning to be issued for most of North Florida, including the panhandle. North Florida did not get the soaking rains that South Florida — and Central Florida to a lesser extent — received earlier this week. (Image credit: NOAA/ NWS-Tallahassee)

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All in all, this is not the kind of weather that says late-March/ spring break in Florida.

Friday morning’s apparent low in West Palm Beach was a chilly 53, and it was in the upper 40s in Central Florida.

It was in the mid- to upper-50s in the Fort Lauderdale and Miami areas; the 60s in the Keys and mid- to upper 40s in inland Collier County. It was also in the mid-40s in Central Florida, the low 40s on the Nature Coast but mid-50s on the Treasure Coast.

It was around 40 in the Gainesville area and a Weather Underground observer in Tallahassee posted a temperature of 37.

Parts of South Florida will only reach the low 70s Friday, the National Weather Service said, although the sun is blazing this time of the year so forecasters have warned that UV danger is “Extreme.” (Don’t be fooled by cool breezes at the beach.)

Temps pop back up over the weekend across the peninsula, but then another cold front by the middle of next week should knock them back about 5 degrees, according to forecasters. That should keep temperatures around normal to a little below normal as we close in on the last weekend of the month.

April 1 is a week from Monday, and that’s no foolin’.

While the Climate Prediction Center is calling for above normal temperatures in Florida in April, forecasters predict March will go out below normal around the Florida peninsula and up the coast into Virginia, while the Midwest is expected to finally get a break and see some warmer-than-normal temperatures.

Coastal flooding

(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

If you’ve been out near the water in the last couple of days, you’ve probably noticed that the tides are alarmingly high, and in fact the National Weather Service in Miami issued a Coastal Flood Statement for Friday that includes coastal areas of southeast Florida and Collier County.

“This is largely due to the combination the super moon and spring equinox,” forecasters said in their Friday discussion. “Impacts should be fairly minimal but could include minor ponding of water on streets, parking lots, piers, and docks in the most vulnerable locations along the coast and Intracoastal waterways.”

Earthsky.org says: “This is the closest coincidence of a full moon with the March equinox since March 2000 – 19 years ago. The full moon and March equinox won’t happen less than one day apart again for another 11 years, until March 2030.”

Tracking this week’s cold front; U.S. has wettest winter on record

ECFL cold front

(Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

Here comes another cold front, an early week occurrence lately. Last week’s packed a pretty good punch, driving temperatures down into the low 40s in Central Florida and high 40s as far south as Naples.

This week’s version is tamer, carrying just enough cool air to bring temperatures back to seasonal norms, according to the National Weather Service. It was cruising through North Florida Tuesday morning and was forecast to stall out in the Florida Straits by Wednesday morning.

Miami’s NWS Tuesday discussion: “Temperatures will moderate back to near normal on Wednesday after the frontal passage.”

Melbourne: “Temperatures will be 5 to 10 degrees cooler than yesterday, with highs reaching the upper 70s north of I-4 and lower 80s for Osceola towards the Treasure Coast.”

Tampa: “This front will not be very noticeable except for a slight decrease in dewpoints along and north of I-4. Across the Nature Coast we will also see around 3-5 degrees knocked off our high and low temps for today and tonight, respectively.”

Another front late this weekend could stall out over the peninsula, and rain could sweep in from the Gulf of Mexico through early next week, forecasters said. The seven-day rainfall forecast from NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center indicates wettest conditions along Florida’s southeast coast.

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Marathon record

(Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

RECORD WATCH: Marathon posted a record high Monday of 88. That beat the old record of 86 tied last year on March 11 and originally set in 1994.

Key West tied a record warm low for the second day in a row with 77, matching the mark originally set in 2015.

NOAA reported, meanwhile, that Florida had its second-warmest February on record.

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WETTEST WINTER ON RECORD: For the nation as a whole, that is. Analysts at NOAA referred to a “steady march of snow and rain storms across the country between December 2018 and the end of February,” noting that “it’s no surprise that the contiguous U.S. marked its wettest winter on record.”

The meteorological winter runs from December 1 to February 28.

Nationwide, it was the second-wettest February on record.

Daytona Beach sets record high; cool-down expected next week

Daytona Beach set a record high Sunday with 86, a degree warmer than the previous record of 85 set four years ago in 2015.

The National Weather Service in Miami said coastal South Florida could be flirting with record warm lows this week, but that hasn’t happened yet. Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach all bottomed out at 73 on Sunday, considerably above average but short of records.

However, Key West posted a record warm low with a sultry 77, beating the old mark of 76 set in 1992.

814temp.new

(Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

If you’re worried that the cool weather is over in Florida, here’s a heartening forecast: Temperatures next week, and perhaps the week after, may be slightly cooler than normal, according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. AccuWeather is showing some highs in the mid-70s in South and Central Florida next week, along with some lows in the lower 60s.

The normal low in Miami for this time of the year is 65.

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POLAR VORTEX IN REVIEW: No question that the Midwest is coming off a terrible winter — not only a cold one but a snowy one. In hindsight, we can get an idea of just how bad it really was.

The National Weather Service has confirmed a new all-time low temperature record in Illinois: 38 below zero in Mt. Carroll in the northwestern part of the state on January 31. That’s about 130 miles northwest of Chicago.

A team of experts from NOAA confirmed the temperature, which beat the old record of 36 below zero in Congerville, set on January 5, 1999.

“The station rests in a relative depression, conducive to pooling of cold air, and observations slightly cooler than immediate neighbors are not an uncommon occurrence,” NOAA said in an official report on the temperature reading.

“Personnel from WFO Quad Cities visited the site in the days following the observation. They found the site to be in proper working order, that standard observing practices were followed and that the station instruments successfully compared to a reference instrument.”

On Weather Underground’s Category 6 blog, meteorologist Jeff Masters noted: “All-time state temperature records are very hard to beat. The extreme heat associated with the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s generated almost half of the all-time state highs that exist today. Interestingly, that decade also produced more of the currently standing all-time record lows than any other decade.

“Since 2000, there have been just two new all-time state cold records set: in 2011 in Oklahoma (-31°F at Nowata on Feb. 10) and in 2009 in Maine (-50°F on Jan. 16 the Big Black River near Saint Pamphile, PQ). One all-time state heat record has been set since 2000 (113°F at Columbia University of South Carolina on June 29, 2012) and one has been tied (120°F near Fort Pierre, South Dakota, on July 15, 2006, a record first set in 1936).”

Melbourne notches record high, but North Florida under Freeze Warning

Frost forecast

FROSTY FORECAST: The Nature Coast from Chiefland down to Brooksville could see frost on Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service in Tampa said. A Freeze Warning was posted for North Florida from the Georgia state line south to Gainesville. (Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

Melbourne set a record high Monday with 88 degrees. That broke the old record of 87 set in 1982 and 1952.

It was 89 at Miami International Airport, one degree shy of the record high of 90 posted on March 4, 2003.

Temperatures as high as 90 were common on the East Coast Monday with a southwesterly wind in advance of Tuesday’s cold front. With no ocean cooling, Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport reached 90, as did Opa-locka in Miami-Dade County, Pembroke Pines in Broward County, as well as Pompano Beach.

West Kendall hit 91.

Unofficially, Palm Springs in Palm Beach County reached 92, Delray Beach and Boca Raton reported 91, and it was 92 in Miami Beach.

Temperatures could be 20-30 degrees cooler on Wednesday and Thursday after the cold front pushes through the peninsula Tuesday afternoon, forecasters said. But temps will rebound in time for the weekend.

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Storm reports

(Image credit: NOAA/ SPC)

STORMY SUNDAY: The tornadoes and strong thunderstorms that ripped through the Deep South on Sunday left a trail of destruction in the Florida panhandle as well. A total of 58 tornadoes were reported to NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center, which updated the count on Tuesday. Seven were reported in Florida, mostly in the Central Panhandle. Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina were also hit hard.

The National Weather Service issued an official assessment Monday of an EF1 tornado with winds up to 100 mph that touched down at 6:33 p.m. in Washington County, three miles east of Sunny Hills, Florida. It stayed on the ground for five minutes, lifting out near Steele City in Jackson County. Washington County is due north of Panama City Beach.

The tornado damaged “multiple structures … throughout Washington County, mostly uplift of tin roofing material. Many freshly snapped trees were also seen in Washington County,” the NWS assessment said. “At one residence, all of the tin roofing material was thrown across the street into the neighbor’s yard as all as a completely shredded trampoline, a dog pen that was 100 feet to the northeast and a collapsed garage door.

“The highest degree of damage was at a house near the county border with Jackson County where much of the tin was ripped from the roof, a small barn tumbled about 50 feet to the northeast as well as a metal canopy moving about 75 feet to the northeast.”