Another weekend, another cold snap

SUNDAY UPDATE: No breakfasting on the patio by the pool this morning — temps were just too chilly. North Palm Beach County temperatures sank to 43 degrees and it was only nine degrees warmer in Miami at 52. A warming trend starts Tuesday and temperatures are forecast to be near 80 by the end of the week. In fact, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting above normal temperatures for the entire state well into next week. But the final week of the month is expected to bring more chilly weather to the Florida peninsula. (Image credit: NWS-Miami)

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Projected lows for the next seven days in West-Central Florida will be stuck in the 40s, with some lows in the mid-30s in Brooksville. (Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

ORIGINAL POST: Bundle up for a cool weekend and a cool upcoming week with lows mostly dipping into the 40s in South Florida and only rising into the mid-60s for highs.

Normal highs are in the mid- to upper-70s this time of the year but we won’t see weather that warm until late in the week, according to the National Weather Service.

“The primary short-term weather concern is focused on low temperatures for late tonight into Sunday morning,” forecasters in Miami said Saturday morning. “Trends have been holding steady over the past few days, and while it will be cool, tonight’s lows don’t appear to be quite on par with some of the colder nights we`ve had so far this winter. That said, readings will be on the cool side.”

Forecast lows:

Lake Okeechobee/northern inland areas: lower to mid 40s;
Gulf Coast/coastal Collier County: around 50;
Palm Beach metro: upper 40s;
Miami/Broward metro: around 50;
Southern inland areas/far western Miami/Broward metro: upper 40s.

Forecast lows in Orlando and parts of Central Florida will be stuck in the 40s through Thursday morning.

Parts of North Florida were under a Freeze Watch for Sunday morning, and lows will linger in the 30s through at least Wednesday morning.

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CALAMITY IN CALIFORNIA? Santee, California, northeast of San Diego, had the nation’s high on Friday with 96. It was 92 in Anaheim, 94 in Vista and 88 in San Diego itself, an all-time high for January.

Punishing Santa Ana winds were gusting as high as 87 mph on Friday, an unusual January occurrence that has prompted wild fire concerns during what is normally the area’s wet season.

The last major rainfall in Southern California was just after Christmas, and it’s been drying out since then. Some brush fires have already popped up, and more strong and dry winds forecast for next week are expected to increase fire threats.

“It’s been so incredibly dry through the fall and winter that fuels are still incredibly dry,” Joe Sirard, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard, told The Washington Post on Friday. “If we’d had lots of rain in December and everything was all green now, I don’t think we’d think much about fire weather.”

Key West record: 122 days with 80-plus degree lows

(Image credit: NOAA)

THURSDAY UPDATE: The next cold front was racing across the Gulf of Mexico toward the Florida peninsula Thursday morning. It was forecast to arrive on the peninsula’s southwest coast around 4 a.m. Friday, dragging cold air behind it. Another chilly weekend will follow, according to the National Weather Service.

Sunday morning will see the coldest temperatures. Forecast lows: Miami, 54; West Palm Beach and Naples, 48; Orlando, 40; Tampa, 43; Gainesville, 33 (with widespread frost); Jacksonville, 36 (with areas of frost); Lake City, 32 (widespread frost); and Tallahassee, 33 (ditto).

If it’s any consolation, and I think it is, the same storm system is forecast to dump snow Friday in eastern Tennessee, northern Georgia and into the Carolinas and Virginia. So Florida remains a desired destination, with its relatively palatable weather this weekend.

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2020 weather highlights in the Florida Keys. (Image credit: NWS-Key West)

KEYS YEAR IN REVIEW: 2020 was the second-warmest year on record in Key West and the fourth-warmest in Marathon, the National Weather Service said this week.

“Helping to fuel the warmer year was an abundance of warmer low temperatures,” the Weather Service said in a report, with 103 daily warm overnight temperature records set or tied in Marathon and Key West, where records date back to 1872 (1950 in Marathon).

Monthly warm minimum temperature records were set or tied in Key West in March, April, May, June, and September.

Another notable stat: Key West had 122 days in 2020 in which the low failed to drop below 80 degrees, more than double the annual average of 53 days.

“It was also a wet year. Marathon measured 64.55 inches of rainfall last year, putting it at 18.38 inches above normal and the second wettest year on record.

“Key West measured 52.30 inches of rainfall, 12.47 inches above normal,” putting it in the top 10 percent of wettest years in the island’s 150-year history.

Click here for the full report.

The night of the iguanas: Hard freeze could deliver a wallop

Most of the Florida peninsula was under a Level 1 (Marginal) threat for severe weather on Thursday into Friday morning, according to NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center. The Florida panhandle was under a Level 2 threat (Slight) as the front comes through on Thursday. (Image credit: NOAA/ SPC)

A Weather Underground headline this morning said: Frozen Iguanas May Soon Be a Problem in Florida.

Iguanas have been spotted as far north as Jacksonville, but they are becoming plentiful in Central Florida — although not as plentiful as they are in South Florida. In any case, the population north of Orlando could be in for a couple of rough nights tonight and Friday night.

There’s a hard freeze watch for North Florida with a forecast low on Saturday morning of 26 in Gainesville. Much of the rest of the peninsula will bottom out in the 30s and 40s (the southeast coast). That’s cold enough to stun iguanas but most of them should recover.

There’s no question, however, that this particular cold front means business.

It was in the single digits Thursday morning as far south as northern Missouri, and temperatures were below zero in northwestern Iowa. Temps were in the teens in the Chicago area. This morning’s low in Roseau, Minnesota was -20.

It was in the 70s along Florida’s southeast coast, with forecast highs in the 80s before the cold front that was just entering the Florida panhandle slaps the peninsula with Arctic air.

(Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

The panhandle and North Florida could see a tornado spin up as the front moves through, but severe weather chances diminish as it rolls down the peninsula. East-Central Florida was under a Moderate Threat for “excessive lightning.”

The thunderstorm threat (overnight) in South Florida was mainly north of Alligator Alley, the National Weather Service said.

Winter rolls in with cold front Monday; planetary anticipation peaks

As winter officially arrives, here’s a look at Sunday snow cover after last week’s storm in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Cold temperatures have kept the snow from melting and in some places it’s topped with a layer of ice. (Image credit: NOAA)

‘TIS THE SEASON: Winter 2020-21 will creep in while you sleep early Monday morning. It arrives at 5:02 a.m. EST, when the sun will be at its farthest point south on the planet, the Tropic of Capricorn.

On cue, another cold front will be slicing across the Florida peninsula right about that time, bringing slightly below normal temperatures. Another more potent cold front arrives on Christmas Eve.

Spring arrives on Saturday March 20 at 5:37 a.m., hopefully bringing with it some cheerier times.

SPEAKING OF WHICH: From the National Weather Service office in Mebourne this morning on Facebook: “Guess what today is?!?! It’s the start of the last FULL WEEK of 2020! Whew! The finish line is in sight, y’all.”

(Image credit: NASA via NWS-TampaBay)

NO, IT’S NOT THE DAWNING OF THE AGE OF AQUARIUS. That requires Jupiter aligning with Mars. But it is the “great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn,” which occurs Monday evening. “Look to the southwest about 45 minutes to 1 hour after sunset,” the National Weather Service office in Tampa says.

This is an event that occurs about once every 20 years. One theory holds that the alignment was actually the legendary star of Bethlehem. although the alignment doesn’t always occur at Christmas.

Usually, the separation between the two planets is about 1 degree, according to Space.com. But this time the separation is a mere tenth of a degree, something that hasn’t happened in at least 400 years.

The last time the planets appeared so close was on July 16, 1623, but that phenomenon was only visible in the tropics.

“The last time most of the world’s population had a favorable view of these two planets coming so close to each other was on March 5, 1226,” said Space.com writer Joe Rao.

Florida December temps: What goes up must come down

(Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

Florida temperatures this December have been on a rollercoaster ride — and it looks like that may continue right through the end of the month.

Major cold snaps occurred December 1-3, and again December 7-11, with another short-lived event this morning and into Saturday.

Friday morning apparent lows: Miami, 55; Fort Lauderdale, 53; West Palm Beach and Naples, 50. It was 63 in Key West and 60 in Marathon.

It was 41 in Orlando; Melbourne, 43; Vero Beach, 45; Fort Pierce, 46; Tampa, 41; Sarasota, 46; Leesburg, 38; Gainesville, 30; Cross City, 28; Daytona Beach, 37; Jacksonville, 32; and Tallahassee, 30.

Luckily we haven’t had any record-busting lows and there has been only patchy frost west of Lake Okeechobee. Even for people who like cold weather this time of the year, a freeze in South Florida has nasty consequences, not only for agriculture but for your home landscaping maintenance as well.

The cold snaps have been interspersed with near-record high temperatures in some cases — take Miami for example. The high was 85 on Monday, just two degrees off the record for the date. On the other hand, the temperature bottomed out at 48 a few days earlier on December 10. That wasn’t a record either, but it did represent a 32-degree temperature difference over a four day period.

There have been enough cold days to put overall December temps below normal through Thursday, and it looks like that may continue right through the holidays.

In their Friday morning forecast discussions, National Weather Service forecasters are hinting at another potent cold front coming through the state from Christmas Eve into Christmas Day. For now, it doesn’t look too serious, according to long-range forecasts by both Weather Underground and AccuWeather.

But the GFS model is showing some 30s all the way down into South Florida’s West Coast late Christmas weekend. The Canadian model (CMC) seems to support this idea, and both models suggest temperatures in the single digits for the Great Lakes States as the holiday weekend winds down.

First look at holiday weather; climate change already impacting home values

Above: Storms accompanying a cold front were entering North Florida Wednesday morning, and were expected to arrive in Central Florida late afternoon and evening. Below: the Storm Prediction Center said North Florida and parts of the West Coast were at Marginal, or Level 1, risk for severe weather. (Image credits: NWS-Melbourne/ NOAA-SPC)

A cold front was moving across the Florida panhandle and North Florida Wednesday with a possibility of strong storms ahead of it. The threat (Marginal, or Level 1) was mostly in the north and down the West Coast.

By the time it gets to South Florida on Thursday, it may be running out of gas, at least in terms of stronger storms.

However, the cold air behind the front is expected to pack a punch, even in South Florida. Friday morning lows are expected to be in the 50s in coastal areas and 40s in the interior. The cool air will be short-lived, according to the National Weather Service, since winds will swing around to the northeast later on Friday, moderating temperatures for the weekend.

Note that this is part of the same storm system that is forecast to bring blizzard conditions to parts of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

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CHILLING OUT ON CHRISTMAS: The first forecast for the holiday was issued by Weather Underground Wednesday. Looks like it may be a continuation of the coolish weather we’ve had this month, with below normal temps. The National Weather Service Christmas forecast will be issued on Saturday. For now: Key West, morning showers and high of 70 and low of 64; Miami, sunny and 74 and 58; Orlando, showers and 65 and 46; Tampa, partly cloudy and 64 and 46; Jacksonville, partly cloudy and 59 and 40; Tallahassee, partly cloudy and 57 and 35.

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CLIMATE CHANGE is already affecting housing prices. Homes in high risk flood areas appreciated 5 percent less than homes in low-risk areas over the past five years, a new study by Realtor.com shows.

Homes in areas at risk for damage from wild fires appreciated 3 percent less than those not at risk. The culprit is falling demand, a trend that is expected to gain momentum.

Not surprisingly, properties most affected were in areas that had been recently hit by a natural disaster. When researchers looked at 78 coastal counties that had experienced hurricane disaster declarations, They found that price growth per square foot was 25 percent over the past five years, compared with growth of 30 percent for homes at lower risk.

The study notes: “The impact of flood risk on home prices appears to be getting more pronounced over time. In 2014, 33 of the 78 counties studied saw high-risk properties appreciate slower than those with less risk, while in 2019, this was true of 40 counties. The trend was most pronounced in Delaware, Florida, Massachusetts and Maryland.”

Jacksonville ties record high; temps hit mid- to upper-80s in South Florida

Dense fog in South Florida’s interior areas was expected to lift by mid-morning on Tuesday, but more fog could return on Wednesday morning. (Image credit: NWS-Miami)

With southwest winds dominating ahead of a weak cold front, Florida’s East Coast baked in record or near-record temps on Tuesday.

Jacksonville tied a record high with 82, matching the mark set 20 years ago in 2000. All the way down the coast, Miami and Fort Lauderdale both checked in with 85, just 2 degrees off their record highs of 87.

It was 84 in West Palm Beach; 79 in Orlando (81 at Orlando Executive Airport); 81 in Melbourne; 82 in Vero Beach; 76 in Tampa; and 80 in Fort Myers. Unofficially, it was 87 in Margate and in Hollywood in Broward County and 87 in Coral Gables, Miami-Dade.

The cold front that slid down the peninsula overnight won’t do much to temperatures, the National Weather Service said, but it was responsible for socking in parts of interior South Florida with dense fog. It was forecast to clear by mid-morning, but another round is possible Wednesday morning, forecasters said.

The massive storm that is poised to smack the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast with more than a foot of snow in some places — 14 inches are in the forecat for New York City — will spin off another cold front near the end of the week. Cooler temps are on tap, but nothing like the cold snap we had last week.

NWS Miami: “Although this storm system across the Mid-Atlantic and northeast appears to be rather strong, the influence on south Florida will be rather weak . . . There will be a modest cool down, especially across our cool favored interior, however, much of the region will only see a modest change in temperatures through week`s end.”

AND IN THE “AIN’T YOU GLAD YOU’RE IN FLORIDA” CATEGORY: The Mid-Atlantic and Northeast were bracing for a brutal Nor’easter. Forecast snow totals have been increasing. See below for expected impacts in the New York area:

Toasty temps for Florida as Mid-Atlantic braces for major storm

The Mid-Atlantic States are bracing for some mid-week mayhem, with the potential for heavy snow, wind, and ice. (Image credit: More info below. NWS-Philadelphia)

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BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND: After some moderate rain along the southeast coast early in the morning, the weather turned Chamber-of-Commerce nice on Saturday. Temps topped out near 80 in South Florida and the Keys, with low- to mid-70s in East Central areas; upper 70s to near 80 on the West Coast, and upper 60s to low 70s in North Florida.

The upcoming week looks pretty decent as well, with seasonal temperatures for most of the peninsula but a slight cool-down by Thursday and Friday — but nothing like the cold snap we had last week.

The Big Weather Story for the week may unfold in the Mid-Atlantic States and in New England, where a major snow storm could smack inland areas. Coastal cities could see mostly rain, so the tricky part is going to be predicting where the rain/ snow line sets up. However, some areas of the mid-Atlantic could get freezing rain, which is actually worse than snow.

The traffic in Central and South Florida has been at in-season levels for the last several weeks . . . but watch for more cars jamming the roads as folks flee the start of real winter weather during the upcoming pre-Christmas week. Highs Sunday in New York, Baltimore and DC are forecast to be around 60 before things start to deteriorate on Monday.

“There is increasing confidence a coastal storm will impact the region Wednesday with strong winds and heavy precipitation likely,” National Weather Service forecasters in Philadelphia said on their Facebook page Sunday. “What remains uncertain is the specific details such as where the rain/snow line sets up and the heaviest snow amounts fall.”

There has been speculation that a foot of snow could bury some areas when all is said and done.

Back in Florida, the long-range GFS model is suggesting seasonal temps to wind up the month, with a couple of cool-downs that — so far — don’t look terribly serious.

With so many other problems on our plate, it’s comforting to know that friendly weather conditions may stick around to help cheer people up. As a famous weather expert once said: “I got ninety-nine problems but the weather ain’t one.”

Warming trend to continue through weekend, forecasters say

A MONTH THAT WILL LIVE IN WEATHER INFAMY: This is the 10th anniversary of the coldest December on record in East-Central Florida. Temperatures ran 15-20 degrees below normal. Unusually cold weather gripped the entire state, not just Central Florida. The first 10 days of December 2020 were the coldest start to December since 2010, the National Weather Service in Melbourne said. (Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

SATURDAY UPDATE: Showery weather kicked off the weekend in South Florida, with East Coast locations reporting up to two-thirds of an inch from rain moving in from the Bahamas.

Miami reported 0.30 of an inch, while West Palm Beach reported 0.14 of an inch and Fort Lauderdale, 0.07. Naples was overcast with no rain reported.

Unofficial rainfall totals across the southeastern coast Saturday morning ranged from a few hundredths of an inch north of West Palm Beach to 0.63 of an inch in Homestead, according to the citizens observation network CoCoRaHS. The rest of the state was dry, with the exception of Bird Key off Sarasota, where an observer reported 0.20 of an inch.

But the story for the rest of the weekend will be warmer temperatures, with low 80s in South Florida by Sunday and Monday. In fact, 80s remain in the National Weather Service forecast for South Florida through mid-week.

Monday forecast highs: Miami, 81; and Homestead, 83; and West Palm Beach, 81. Central Florida should be in the upper 70s Sunday and Monday with mid-70s in North Florida.

Rain is expected Wednesday as a cold front stalls out near or over South Florida, according to forecasters. That should be followed by cooler weather late in the week, but only a few degrees below normal — not the cold blasts we experienced earlier this week.

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(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

ORIGINAL POST: It was yet another chilly morning on Friday, despite some recovery in afternoon temperatures on Thursday. Cloud cover on the East Coast added to a somewhat wintry feel.

South Florida Friday morning apparent lows: Miami, 61; Fort Lauderdale, 59; West Palm Beach, 56; Naples, 53.

East Central: Melbourne, 45; Orlando, Vero Beach and Fort Pierce, 47.

West Central: Tampa and Sarasota, 53; St Petersburg, 50; Punta Gorda, 47; Brooksville, 38.

North Florida: Gainesville, 39; Cross City, 36; Daytona Beach, 45; Jacksonville,41; Lake City, 37; Tallahassee, 39.

More seasonal temperatures are in the National Weather Service forecast for the weekend and through next week. Highs are forecast to be in the mid- to upper-70s around the peninsula, except low- to mid-70s in North Florida followed by cooler temperatures next week as a cold front moves through. That front is forecast to stall near South Florida early in the week.

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PACIFIC KEEPS ITS COOL: NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center issued its ENSO update Thursday, calling for a continuation of La Niña conditions — abnormally cold waters in the eastern tropical Pacific — through the winter. Forecasters said that may be followed by a transition to neutral conditions in spring.

They said for La Niña is expected to affect weather in the U.S., which generally means warm and dry conditions for the southern tier of states and cooler, wetter weather for the northern states. That hasn’t been the case so far in December, with Florida turning in below normal temps for the first 10 days of the month.

On top of that, there have been record highs in the northern Plains States.

But the new winter forecast will be out next Thursday, and there’s an expectation that it will once again reflect the moderate La Niña that remains in place.

How cool has December been in Florida so far? Well, for the first 10 days of the month, Miami is running 5.3 degrees below normal, with above normal precipitation — just the opposite of what a La Niña winter tends to look like in Florida.

Fort Lauderdale is running 6.4 degrees below normal and West Palm Beach, 5.6 degrees below average. Naples is 5.9 degrees below normal.

In Central and North Florida, Orlando is running a whopping 8.6 degrees below normal; Tampa is at minus 6.4 degrees and Jacksonville is at minus 7.2 degrees. Tallahassee is at 5.1 degrees below average.

Coldest temp in Miami since January 22; Vero Beach, Fort Pierce tie record lows

(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

Let the warm-up begin!

Winds should swing around to the north-northeast or northeast later today, signaling the end of the surprisingly persistent cold snap.

Three day forecast highs (Thursday through Saturday): Miami, 70, 75 and 77; Orlando, 71, 72 and 77; Tampa, 72, 72 and 76; Jacksonville, 69, 70 and 73; Tallahassee, 70, 70 and 72.

Thursday morning apparent lows: Miami, 48 (the first sub-50-degree temperature in Miami since February 4 and the coldest temperature in the city since January 22); Orlando, 42; Tampa, 49; Jacksonville, 40; Tallahassee, 35.

RECORD WATCH: Vero Beach and Fort Pierce both tied record lows on Wednesday. It was 38 in Vero Beach, tying a record set in 1984; and it was 37 in Fort Pierce, tying a record also set in 1984.

Next week’s forecast is for more seasonal temperatures, but the National Weather Service in Miami said there’s more than the usual amount of uncertainty, with forecast models at odds. The longer-term GFS model is still showing some toastier temps for Christmas week.

Dreaming of a white Christmas? With above normal temperatures in the forecast coast-to-coat, it could be tough sledding this year. However, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for above normal precipitation in the northern Rocky Mountains and in New England, so stay tuned . . . .