Tropical Storm Beryl ‘unlikely’ to impact Florida, forecasters say

Tropical Storm Beryl forms in Atlantic

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UPDATE: The depression was upgraded to Tropical Storm Beryl by the National Hurricane Center at 2:30 p.m. By 5 p.m., forecasters were predicting that Beryl would become the season’s first hurricane on Saturday morning. Nevertheless, they continue to expect dissipation by Monday as it rolls over the Lesser Antilles. Forecast tracks, meanwhile, have shifted south into the Caribbean. (Image credit: NHC)

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The season’s second tropical depression formed in the Central Atlantic Thursday and forecasters at the National Hurricane Center predicted it would become the second named storm of the year by Friday. But they said it would be short-lived due to high wind shear near the Lesser Antilles. They predicted dissipation by Monday. “Even though the cyclone is expected to dissipate east of the Lesser Antilles early next week, the remnant tropical wave will continue moving quickly westward, likely bringing locally heavy rains and gusty winds to portions of the Leeward Islands on Sunday and Monday,” Hurricane Specialist Robbie Berg said in the storm’s first forecast discussion. 

Invest 95L

‘VERY UNLIKELY’: The National Weather Service sums up the potential threat posed to Florida by Invest 95L in the Atlantic by noting that major forecast models call for the system to dissipate once it reaches the Lesser Antilles. Early Thursday morning, the National Hurricane Center was giving the disturbance a 70 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression — or possibly Tropical Storm Beryl — as it moves west-northwest in the Central Atlantic. A second low south of Bermuda had a 30-40 percent chance of developing as it moves toward the north. If both would develop, the next name on the 2018 list is Chris.

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Nature went toe-to-toe with fireworks displays on Wednesday as an upper level low whipped up strong storms accompanied by a lightning show that lasted through the evening hours.

Thunderstorms ripped across Florida’s East Coast in the early morning hours of Thursday, too, dumping as much as 1.77 inches of rain in West Palm Beach.

Southwest Florida was hammered on the holiday, with Fort Myers officially picking up 3.56 inches. Tampa reported 1.47 inches and inland, in Hendry County, an observer reported 2.32 inches to the National Weather Service in Miami.

East-Central Florida saw some soakers as well. Parts of Putnam County and Brevard County were hit with around 2.5 inches of rain.

Thursday was expected to be a carbon copy of Wednesday, with afternoon storms slamming South Florida and Central Florida.

Starting on Sunday, there’s a potential for “a slightly drier air mass” to take control in South Florida, NWS forecasters said in their Thursday morning analysis from Miami. They noted that tropical waves moving in from the Atlantic could push rain chances back above normal again next week.

Although it seems likely that 95L will get dismantled by strong wind shear near the Lesser Antilles, the GFS suggests that some of the moisture associated with it could eventually wash into the Florida peninsula.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for normal levels of precipitation in Florida from July 10-18.

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Jacksonville socked with record rainfall

Hefty rainfall was reported up and down the Florida peninsula Thursday, including a 1.52-inch deluge in Jacksonville — a record for the date.

The official total at Jacksonville busted the previous rainfall record for June 28 of 1.37 inches set in 2005.

Impressive amounts were reported elsewhere, including 1.40 in Cross City and 2.27 inches in Punta Gorda.

Amounts of over 2 inches were reported by observers for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network in the Tallahassee area; parts of Alachua County southwest of Gainesville; and northeastern Miami-Dade County.

An observer in Boynton Beach, in Palm Beach County, reported 3.26 inches to the National Weather Service in Miami.

Forecasters said a repeat of Thursday’s activity was expected on Friday, with more focus on interior and West Coast areas over the weekend as Saharan air noses into the Florida peninsula from the east.

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Red Tide

RED TIDE FISH KILL: Karenia brevis problems continued Friday for some West Coast beaches. The website Visitbeaches.org reported heavy concentrations of dead fish at Manasota Beach near South Venice.  Check the website for specific information, since the effects are patchy, according to the National Weather Service in Tampa. (Image credit: NWS-Tampabay)

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TROPICS WATCH: The Canadian forecast model (CMC) doesn’t get much respect for its record on tropical storm prediction. But Friday morning’s run of the model showed a low developing between Bermuda and the northwestern Bahamas on July 4. It has it moving toward the Central Florida Coast, fairly weak, by the weekend, after which it crosses the peninsula into the Gulf of Mexico.

None of the other forecast models — including the GFS and the European (ECMWF) reflect this scenario. But a National Weather Service forecaster had this to say Friday morning from Miami: “By the middle of next week, the GFS and ECMWF show a deep-layered trough moving westward in the western Atlantic between Bermuda and the southeast U.S. coast.

“The GFS had it moving a little faster and closer to Florida compared to yesterday`s 12Z ECMWF. If the GFS were to be correct, then it would enhance moisture, along with widespread showers and storms around day seven.

“However, at this time, my thinking is to lean more with the ECMWF, which is also in line with the latest WPC [Weather Prediction Center] forecast chart for Thursday of next week, which depicts a trough well offshore the southeastern U.S., farther from Florida.”

The National Hurricane Center is forecasting no tropical development through July 4.

Anniversary report: The surprising tenacity of Hurricane Audrey

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The National Hurricane Center began watching an area of low pressure nearing the coast of North Carolina on Tuesday night. Forecasters said it had a 10 percent chance of development over the next two to five days as it moves into the Atlantic and away from the U.S. coast. (Image credit: NHC)

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Track of Hurricane Audrey in 1957. Well after landfall, the storm left a trail of death and destruction across the Central and Eastern U.S. (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

SEPTEMBER-STYLE STORM TERROR … IN JUNE: Sixty-one years ago Hurricane Audrey was racing across the Gulf of Mexico after forming from a tropical depression in the Bay of Campeche, en route to becoming one of the deadliest hurricanes on record. The storm, which made landfall in near Cameron, Louisiana on June 27, packed Category 3 winds of 125 mph.

Audrey lost its eye after moving inland in Louisiana, but when it reached Tennessee it re-intensified, and headed north-northwest toward Lake Huron. Even that far north, and after traveling over land, Audrey brought hurricane winds to New York, with Jamestown reporting gusts of up to 100 mph. It eventually dissipated over Quebec.

The storm spawned 23 tornadoes and caused flooding as far west as Central Illinois and as far east as Maine. In all, Audrey was responsible for 416 deaths, making it the eighth-deadliest hurricane on record.

According to History.com: “The towns of Cameron, Creole and Grand Chenier (Louisiana) were devastated by the hurricane. Only one building survived in Creole and only two were left standing in Cameron, thankfully including the courthouse that was sheltering many of the residents.

“Many people were simply swept away by the floods. Eighteen people in a single family perished when their home was knocked down and washed away. Some survivors lived by tying themselves to tree tops, others by clinging to driftwood. At least one person died from the bite of a poisonous water snake while clinging to wreckage.”

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FLORIDA RAINFALL REPORT: Much of Monday’s convection was focused on the West Coast, where Fort Myers picked up 1.33 inches and Sarasota reported 0.63 of an inch.

But on the East Coast, Palm Beach and parts of West Palm Beach measured about a half-inch of rain from showers moving in off the Atlantic during the late morning and early afternoon.

Other wet spots, according to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network: 1.41 inches in eastern Martin County near the Florida Turnpike; 1.15 inches in the Clearwater area of Pinellas County; 1.22 inches in northeastern Pasco County; and 1.30 inches near Altamonte Springs north of Orlando.

Typical summertime showers and thunderstorms should continue over the entire peninsula this week, according to the National Weather Service, but Saharan air is expected to brush the state Friday and Saturday, bringing slightly drier conditions.

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June rainfall record

KEY WEST SOAKER: Monday was the 26th anniversary of the wettest day on record in Key West for the month of June. The city was slammed by 5.14 inches of rain on June 25, 1992. Rainfall records date back to 1871. (Image credit: NWS-Key West)

 

 

 

South Florida heat index may exceed 105 by end of week, forecasters say

JAX heat indices

Heat index values around the Florida peninsula usually top out at around 105, although they may exceed that next week, according to the National Weather Service. In southern Georgia, well away from any sea breeze influences, forecast heat index values  will be as high as 109 on Sunday. (Image credit: NWS-Jacksonville)

Most years, people make plans for the Fourth of July weekend — a good time for a mini-trip out-of-town or to the beach. All you have to do is take one day off work to make it a four-day holiday.

But this year with the Fourth on a Wednesday, you have a pre-holiday weekend and a post-holiday weekend.

The pre-holiday weekend in Florida is going to be hot-hot-hot — no surprise there — with a batch of Saharan dust over South Florida to boot, according to the National Weather Service in Miami. (Fireworks will only add to the haze.)

On Florida’s West Coast, look for heat index values “greater than 105 degrees” starting at the end of the upcoming work week.

That’s been about the max in Florida so far this summer. The heat index in Naples and Fort Lauderdale Saturday reached 105. In Miami it was a relatively refreshing 100 degrees.

Ditto for Tampa and Orlando, but up in Gainesville the heat index was 104 and at Daytona Beach it was 105.

RAINFALL REPORT: Heavy rains hit Florida’s East Coast again on Saturday afternoon. Fort Lauderdale reported 1.53 inches; West Palm Beach, 1.32; Melbourne, 1.68 inches; and Pembroke Pines, 1.83.

RECORD WATCH: The low in Sanford Saturday was 77, which broke the record warm minimum for the date. The previous record was 76 set in 2011.

 

Florida’s East Coast gets a soaking; chaos on the Red Planet

SST Keys

NICE DAY FOR A DIP: As noted in Friday’s post, water temperatures are rising fast in the tropical and subtropical Atlantic. They are currently in the mid-80s in the Keys and the low to mid-80s off East-Central Florida and South Florida. They’re in the upper 80s off Naples on the West Coast; the mid-80s off Venice in the Gulf; and around 80 degrees on the northern Gulf Coast. They are running just under 80 degrees off the Jacksonville beaches. (Image credit: NWS-Key West)

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Rains returned to Florida’s East Coast Friday, knocking back some of the intense heat that had been building up during the early part of the afternoon.

Observers for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network reported more than 2 inches in the Orlando area, around an inch-and-a-half in parts of East-Central Florida, and around an inch in some areas of South Florida.

Officially, 0.96 of an inch fell in West Palm Beach; 0.43 in Miami; and 0.62 om Fort Lauderdale. Only a trace of rain fell in Naples, which is now 4.18 inches short of its June average. The Keys are also having a below-normal June in terms of precipitation.

Several cities on Florida’s East-Central Coast also have accumulated small rainfall deficits.

Typical afternoon shower and thunderstorm activity will be the story next week, according to the National Weather Service, with a focus on interior areas as sea breezes build in on both coasts.

By the way, June temps in Naples are running 2.4 degrees above average, whereas temperatures on South Florida’s East Coast are running average to slightly below average.

But it really doesn’t matter how you slice or dice the actual numbers — it’s hot!

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Mars dust storm

A recent snapshot of the Martian landscape from the Curiosity Rover, which is inside a crater and using a mast camera to peer over the rim. (Credit: NASA)

EVEN MATT DAMON COULDN’T SURVIVE: The dust storm that’s been hampering exploration on Mars has grown to encircle the entire planet, NASA says.

Dust storms are common on Mars, but not like this one. Scientists are trying to figure out why this particular storm has grown to epic proportions.

“They typically stay contained to a local area,” the agency says on its website. “By contrast, the current storm, if it were happening on Earth, would cover the area of North America and Russia combined.”

That doesn’t happen on Earth because vegetation tends to keep dust in place, and stronger gravity allows it to settle faster.

Rainfall deficits start to show up in Keys, parts of Central Florida

Saharan air approaches

SAHARAN DUST APPROACHES FLORIDA: A very dry Saharan air layer moved off the coast of Africa late last week and has been pushing west across the Atlantic. The northern edge of the latest batch should brush South Florida this weekend, National Weather Service forecasters said Friday. “The strength of the SAL weakens as it moves across the Atlantic, but it can still bring hazy sunsets and drier weather conditions for the Florida Keys,” forecasters in Key West said. (Image credit: NWS-Key West)

RAINFALL REPORT: Miami International Airport was socked with 1.43 inches of rain, making Thursday the second-wettest day of the month so far behind June 9, when 2.37 inches fell. The Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport reported 2.18 inches. Fort Lauderdale picked up a quarter of an inch, and West Palm Beach measured 0.09 of an inch.

Naples posted precipitation goose eggs, driving their June rainfall deficit up to 1.78 inches.

Key West and Marathon have also edged into rainfall deficit territory, but up the coast Fort Myers has over an inch surplus as we head into the second half of June.

In West-Central Florida, though, Tampa has officially had no measurable rainfall since June 8, and the city’s precipitation deficit now stands at a hefty 2.04 inches. Sarasota has a 1-inch deficit but Lakeland has a 1.36-inch surplus.

These differences aren’t all that surprising since summer rains in Florida are highly localized. But it shows how quickly conditions can turn around from wet to dry in a subtropical climate.

Several locations on Florida’s Central East Coast have also developed slight rainfall deficits, including Melbourne, Vero Beach and Fort Pierce. Daytona Beach and Orlando are still wetter than normal for June.

Jacksonville’s precipitation surplus is near the top of the charts, running at plus-2.44 inches, but still behind West Palm Beach at plus-3.11 inches.

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BACK ON THE MAP: The National Hurricane Center put the Caribbean disturbance back on its Tropical Outlook map on Friday afternoon, giving it a 10 percent chance of development over the next two-to-five days. The area of interest, plotted in the southern Gulf of Mexico on Thursday, was removed from the map Thursday night. But since then it has been firing up convection east of the Yucatan Peninsula. The big change with this Tropical Weather Outlook is that forecasters now have the potential low focused much farther north, possibly aiming at Texas or even Louisiana. (Image credit: NHC)

ORIGINAL TROPICS WATCH: NHC dropped the Caribbean-Gulf of Mexico disturbance from their tropical outlook maps on Friday morning, saying that strong upper-level winds would prevent development of the system they’d been tracking for several days.

Analysis from the University of Wisconsin show 30-40 knot wind shear over the western Caribbean and southern Gulf of Mexico. A low pressure area would have to make it into the eastern or central Gulf in order to find friendlier wind shear, which is running about 10-15 knots in those areas.

But forecast models have continued to predict a westward movement of the trough that has been hanging around the Yucatan Peninsula. Friday morning’s satellite imagery still showed some fairly vigorous convection, but to the east of the Yucatan.

Hurricane Center watching Caribbean; Saharan air may be headed to Florida

Full Disk - Clean Longwave Window - IR

TROPICS WATCH: Tuesday’s Atlantic satellite image shows the disturbance in the Caribbean that’s being monitored by the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Forecasters were giving it a 20 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression — or Tropical Storm Beryl — as it moves west over the Yucatan Peninsula and into the southwestern Gulf of Mexico. Northeastern Mexico could get the brunt of the rainfall from the system, and South Texas could also be in for a soaking if current forecasts stay on track. (Image credits: NOAA (top); NHC, below)

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Coastal Palm Beach County received another shellacking Monday with 1.33 inches of rain falling at Palm Beach International Airport. It was the third day this month in West Palm Beach with rainfall in excess of an inch, not including June 7 when 0.97 of an inch fell.

West Palm Beach is now running 3.85 inches over normal for June — a month that is normally the wettest of the year anyway.

An observer in Greenacres, in Central Palm Beach County, reported 2.83 inches to the National Weather Service in Miami.

There were other heavy rain totals Monday in both North Florida, Central Florida and South Florida.

An observer for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network reported 1.56 inches in coastal Collier County; the Fort Myers area picked up as much as 1.27 inches; western Orange County (Orlando) received well over an inch; northern Brevard County had a 1.69-inch soaking; and coastal Volusia County picked up 1.5-2 inches, as did the Tallahassee area and parts of Jefferson County to the east.

Sick of the wet weather yet? Precipitation chances for the upcoming weekend may be subject to the roll of the dice. First, a cold front could slide into Central Florida late Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

“Depending on how far south this feature may reach, chances of rain could increase as it
nears South Florida in the late Saturday-early Sunday time frame,” forecasters in Miami said in their Tuesday forecast discussion. “On the other hand, latest dispersion model runs suggest a high probability of having a Saharan Dust layer reaching the region also during the weekend, which would lower the chances of rain as the air mass becomes drier.”

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Dry Saharan air was edging into the eastern Caribbean on Tuesday. (Image credit: University of Wisconsin-CIMSS/NOAA-HRD)

We haven’t heard too much about Saharan dust so far this season, but June is the month when it often begins affecting weather in the Caribbean, South Florida, and areas as far west as the Texas Coast.

It creates hazy skies and dries out the atmosphere, although storms are not completely zapped out. If you have allergies, get ready for a few days of sneezing and wheezing.

WFL forecast

RINSE AND REPEAT ON THE WEST COAST: “If you enjoyed the weather [Monday], good news! The forecast is for the weather to repeat each day through the rest of the week with very little change,” NWS forecasters in Tampa said on Facebook. “Highs near 90 each day, with scattered showers and thunderstorms.” (Credit: NWS-TampaBay)