Nice week on tap for Florida peninsula; January was record warm worldwide;

With strong easterly winds and a cold front stalled out over the Keys, some decent rainfall totals were occurring over southeastern Florida and the Keys. A CoCoRaHS observer for the national precipitation network reported 1.54 inches in Key Largo from Saturday through early Sunday morning.

An observer in North Miami Beach reported 1.24 inches; and an observer in Fort Lauderdale reported 1.45 inches.

Palm Beach County reported around a quarter of an inch. Lighter amounts fell along the Treasure Coast.

Another nice warm-up is scheduled for the coming work week, but then a cold front knocks temperatures back to below normal next weekend, just in time for the start of the exhibition baseball season.

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(Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

The Climate Prediction Center is calling for February to go out on a slightly cooler note, especially the southern tier of states from New Mexico all the way to the Carolinas and the Mid-Atlantic States on the East Coast.

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Global temps

(Image credit: NOAA/ NCEI)

ANOTHER JANUARY, ANOTHER RECORD: Earth had its warmest January in the 141-year-old record, the National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI) said on Thursday.

Temperatures worldwide were 2.05 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, which beat the previous record for the warmest January by 0.04 of a degree. That occurred in January 2016.

“The four warmest Januaries on record have occurred since 2016, while the 10 warmest Januaries have occurred since 2002,” NCEI, a NOAA agency, reported. “The only Januaries with a global land and ocean surface temperature departure from average above 1.0°C (1.8°F) occurred in 2016 and 2019.”

The contiguous U.S. had its fifth warmest January, with records in that category going back 126 years. Hawaii had its second warmest January but Alaska had its coldest January since 2012. In fact, it tied 1970 as the 13th coldest January on record.

Every state in the Lower 48 had above normal temperatures, including Florida, which was above average but not record warm. Highest temperature anomalies were found in Texas and Oklahoma, the Great Lakes States, and the Northeast.

The Caribbean had its second warmest January, also behind 2016.

So I figured it was a good time to take a peek at sea surface temperatures in the Caribbean and the Main Development Region of the tropical Atlantic. It’s early, of course, but very warm water temperatures seem to be setting up shop from the coast of Africa all the way west into the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.

Particularly high temperature anomalies are in place off the U.S. East Coast, with the highest being in the Mid-Atlantic.

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(Image credit: NOAA/ NESDIS)

Storm knocks out power, topples trees; warmer, quieter week coming up

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Above normal temperatures are on the way for all of Florida next week. (Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

FRIDAY STORM WRAP: Thousands were without power in North Florida, a tornado was reported in the Tampa Bay area, and an unofficial wind gust of 74 mph was reported north of Tallahassee.

Schools in Florida’s Big Bend area were closed Thursday afternoon as were local government offices, the Tallahassee Democrat said. A 45 mph wind gust was reported at the National Weather Service’s office at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

A personal weather station in the Golden Eagle development north of Tallahassee reported a wind gust of 74 mph, “though forecasters weren’t sure about the accuracy of that report,” The Democrat said Friday.

State Road 408 in the Orlando area was closed on Thursday when scaffolding was damaged in high winds, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The Tampa Bay Times reported: “Pinellas County may have gotten the worst of it. A powerful squall line came ashore late Thursday, thrashed the Tampa Bay area, produced at least one tornado and pushed a crane over onto Interstate 275 in St. Petersburg.”

A woman was trapped in her house when a tree fell on it, the newspaper said. There were numerous reports of more minor damage on the National Weather Service’s Facebook site.

The storm caused at least three deaths in Alabama and Tennessee.

South Florida maximum wind gusts: Juno Beach, 45 mph; Lake Okeechobee (South Florida Water Management District station), 44; Miami International Airport, 43; and Palm Beach International Airport, 35.

East-Central: Orlando International Airport, 40 mph; Melbourne, 36;  and Fort Pierce, 31.

West-Central: St. Petersburg, 49 mph; Brooksville, 44; and Ocala, 44.

TOP RAINFALL TOTALS (CoCoRaHS): Northern Leon County (Tallahassee), 2.55 inches; Chiefland (Levy County), 1.83; and North Port (Sarasota County), 2.01. Many areas across the peninsula, including Central and South Florida,, picked up between a half-inch and an inch.

OUTLOOK, SOUTH FLORIDA: “Near average temperatures early in the period should trend towards above average late in the week with
highs climbing well into the 80s away from the Atlantic coast,” the National Weather Service in Miami said.

EAST-CENTRAL: “Strong Atlantic high pressure ridge will keep any frontal intrusions at bay until possibly Fri at the earliest. This will keep weather conditions dry and warm, with above normal temperatures through at least Thursday,” the NWS in Melbourne said.

WEST-CENTRAL: “The front at the end of the week will stay north of the area. Temperatures initially on the cool side gradually warm through the week,” the NWS in Tampa said.

NORTH FLORIDA: A cold front nears the area on Wednesday and Thursday and but then lifts back to the north. “Temperatures will be above normal,” the NWS in Jacksonville said.

Florida cities log unusually warm January; forecasters look ahead to next storm system

End of week storm

LOOKING AHEAD: It’s a little unusual for the National Weather Service to advertise potentially severe weather this far out, but an end-of-week cold front may trigger some bad weather in North Florida on Thursday, according to forecasters. Still plenty of time to see how this event unfolds. (Image credit: NWS-Jacksonville)

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South Florida was hammered late Friday into early Saturday morning with heavy rain moving in from the Gulf of Mexico as a warm front pulled up from the Straits, dropping more than 2 inches of rain in northeastern Miami-Dade County and almost an inch-and-a-half in the Middle and Upper Keys.

On the West Coast, a CoCoRaHS observer in Bonita Springs measured 1.76 inches in the backyard bucket. Otherwise, an observer in Aventura, Miami-Dade, took the honors for heaviest rainfall with 2.38 inches.

Totals in Palm Beach County topped out at 1.73 inches in the Boynton Beach area.

Totals were much lighter, in the quarter-inch range, in East-Central Florida.

Part two of the weekend rain event was penciled in by forecasters from the National Weather Service for Saturday afternoon and evening as the cold front rolls down the peninsula, dropping overnight temperatures into the 40s in interior areas and 50s along the coasts.

By order of the Miami-Dade Tourist Development Council, Super Bowl Sunday will be sunny, cool and dry, with highs around 70.

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JANUARY WRAP: Once again, temperatures were above normal across the state. Miami was 3.3 degrees above average and had a precipitation surplus of almost a half-inch, thanks to a two-day rainfall total of 1.50 inches on Thursday and Friday. West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, though, had rainfall deficits with above-normal temps.

Naples was an impressive 5.2 degrees above average with a slight rainfall surplus.

It was a mixed bag in the Keys, although both Marathon and Key West had above normal temperatures in January. Key West was slightly under for precipitation; Marathon was slightly over.

In Central Florida, Orlando was 5.3 degrees above average with a rainfall deficit of 1.73 inches. Only 0.62 of an inch of rain fell in Orlando all month. It was even drier in Daytona Beach, where 0.44 of an inch fell in January, a deficit of 2.30 inches. Temperatures, though, were 4.3 degrees above average.

On the West Coast, Tampa was 4.5 degrees above average with a rainfall deficit of 1.15 inches.

In North Florida, Jacksonville had the highest temperature anomalies in January — 6.4 degrees above average — with a big precip shortfall of 3.12 inches. Only 0.18 of an inch of rain fell at the airport: 0.07 of an inch on January 4 and 0.11 of an inch on January 29.

Likewise, Tallahassee had a 3.01-inch rainfall deficit but temperatures were 5.7 degrees above normal.

Feb temps

FEBRUARY OUTLOOK: NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center unveiled its latest February forecast Friday, calling for above normal temperatures in the eastern U.S., with the highest probabilities for warm temperature anomalies in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Above normal precipitation was also forecast for the southeastern U.S. (Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

Severe weather possible before weekend cold front arrives

Severe storm risk

(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

More than an inch of rain soaked the Cape Coral area of Southwest Florida overnight Wednesday into Thursday morning, and more was on the way for the first part of the weekend along with the potential for some severe weather in parts of South Florida.

NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center put much of South Florida at a Level 2 risk — forecasters call it a “Slight Risk” — Friday night through Sunday morning with the bulk of the storms occurring Friday night and Saturday.

For Saturday, the SPC has South Florida at a Slight Risk from just south of Naples over to Boca Raton on the East Coast, down to the peninsula’s southern tip.  A slice of Level 1 or “Marginal Risk runs from around Fort Myers up through West Palm Beach. Central Florida is expecting thunderstorms.

“The main hazards with these storms look to be gusty winds, small hail, minor localized flooding, and funnel clouds,” National Weather Service forecasters in Miami said. “Given the instability and shear, along with the presence of the jet, a brief tornado can’t be entirely ruled out, though the most prime location for that looks to be across the far southern portion of the peninsula.”

Sunday is expected to be clear and much cooler, with highs only around 70 in Miami, headed for an overnight low of 55; 67 in Orlando going down to a Monday morning low of 46; and 66 in Tampa heading for a low of 48.

Come to think of it, that’s not bad football weather. But expect to see lots of jackets and sweatshirts at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on Super Bowl Sunday with game time temperatures slipping into the 60s along with wind gusts of up to 23 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

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RAINFALL REPORT: Observers for the rainfall network CoCoRaHS reported up to 1.26 inches of rain in Cape Coral, from late Wednesday through early Thursday morning. Glades and Hendry counties reported up to 1.23 inches; and Sarasota County had just under an inch.

An observer near Pahokee in Palm Beach County reported 1.10 inches, while coastal areas had closer to a quarter of an inch as a weak cold front rolled down the peninsula Wednesday night.

Northeastern Miami-Dade picked up as much as 0.81 of an inch, and around a half-inch fell on the Treasure Coast.

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Severe Weather Awareness hurricanes

AROUND THE CORNER AND DOWN THE STREET: Do we need a reminder? Apparently so, as Thursday is the day to focus on hurricanes in Florida as part of Severe Weather Awareness Week. Just in case you’re keeping score at home, there are 121 shopping days until the start of the 2020 hurricane season on June 1. (Image credit: NOAA)

Postcard Florida weekend; forecasters see stormy Monday

SFL high end rainfall

(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

NICE WEEKEND, BUT … : A cold front that moved down the peninsula early Saturday delivered cool and dry air, but temperatures are still forecast to remain close to seasonal, with highs in South Florida in the mid-70s and lows in the 50s. It’ll be a little cooler in Central Florida with a high of 70 in Orlando and a low in the mid- to upper-40s.

The Big Question for Monday is how much rain will we get. A developing low in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to slide across South Florida with the heftiest totals forecast for Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. Lighter amounts are predicted for Central Florida.

Explanation from the National Weather Service: “As the system closes in on the Florida peninsula, a remnant boundary to our south is progged to lift northward, increasing instability across South Florida. Uncertainty in timing has arisen with the latest GFS and ECMWF guidance slowing the forward propagation of the system as it reaches our area,” forecasters in Miami said Saturday. “This has resulted in rain chances to begin increasing early Monday and continuing through early Tuesday …

“… There remains a non-zero chance for stronger convection that may be capable of producing isolated wind gusts, lightning, and minor localized flooding.”

NWS Melbourne is predicting “a compact surface low or wave moving ESE across the eastern Gulf of Mexico Monday, then weakening to a trough as it crosses South Florida Monday night and merges with a cool front approaching from the northwest.”

More than 2 inches of rain slam Broward County; forecasters eye Gulf system on Monday

Manatee pic

MANATEE MEET-N-GREET: This week’s cool temperatures drew a multitude of manatees in search of the warm waters of Manatee Lagoon near the Florida Power & Light Company’s Riviera Beach plant in Palm Beach County. The best chance to see manatees at the Lagoon is from November 15 through March 31, when water temperatures in the Intracoastal are at their coolest. Manatees are mostly solo animals and fishermen often see one swimming by anywhere along the South Florida coast. When a group gets together like this, it’s called an aggregation. (Photo by Priscilla Cutler)

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RAINFALL REPORT: After winds swung around to the east off the Atlantic late Wednesday and Thursday, Florida’s East Coast picked up some hefty rainfall totals from Melbourne down to Miami. Broward County was the focus of the heaviest rain on Thursday.

Officially, Pompano Beach had 1.46 inches; Fort Lauderdale reported 0.93; Miami, 0.31; and West Palm Beach, 0.08.

In East-Central Florida, Melbourne measured 0.95 of an inch while Fort Pierce reported 0.74. Orlando had 0.18 and Vero Beach, 0.39.

West-Central Florida and North Florida were mostly dry.

Observers for the citizens network CoCoRaHS reported unofficial totals of up to 2.96 inches in Deerfield Beach, Broward County. Up to 2.47 inches was reported in the northwest Fort Lauderdale area.

While just 0.08 of an inch fell officially at Palm Beach International Airport, totals of up to three-quarters of an inch were reported around Central Palm Beach County.

Amounts of a half-inch to three-quarters-of-an-inch were reported as far north as the Space Coast.

NOAA’s GFS forecast model shows a rather robust low pressure system forming in the Gulf of Mexico and delivering some decent rains to South Florida Monday and Tuesday.

National Weather Service forecasters in Miami explained Friday: “Models continue to develop a surface low over the northwestern Gulf of Mexico in response to an eastward propagating southern stream shortwave. As this system advances toward the Florida peninsula, a remnant boundary draped to our south will begin to lift northward, increasing rain chances across the area on Monday …

“Although guidance remains in fair agreement on timing, there is still plenty of variability regarding the intensity of this system.”

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Severe Weather Awareness Week

WEATHER REMINDERS: As we move a little bit closer to spring, the National Weather Service will be talking about some of the hazards that impact Florida during next week’s Severe Weather Awareness Week. Monday will cover lightning; Tuesday, marine and rip current hazards; Wednesday, severe storms and tornadoes; Thursday, hurricanes and flooding; and on Friday, heat and wildfires. (Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

Record rains continue in South Florida; surge of winter warmth in Midwest

As the year and the decade draw to a close, the question is: What happened to winter?

December is the heart of the dry season on the Florida peninsula, and this month has been anything but. Precipitation patterns have been acting more like June, or September, with record rains first slamming the Fort Lauderdale area last weekend, and the Palm Beach area this weekend.

On Saturday, West Palm Beach picked up 2.23 inches of rain, a new record that easily washed away the old mark of 1.85 inches set 70 years ago on December 28, 1949.

All four major observation centers in South Florida — Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm and Naples — are all way ahead on rainfall for the month, and not just by a little. Average rainfall in September in Fort Lauderdale is 8.59 inches; the city already has racked up 9.71 inches for December.

Rainfall on the West Coast is running 2-4 inches above average for the month.

ECFL rainfall

While the heavy rains that soaked parts of South Florida Saturday were expected to taper off on Sunday, more rain was forecast for the East-Central peninsula. (Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

High temperatures haven’t been wildly out of whack due to the rain and cloud cover, but overall temps across Florida have nevertheless been above normal thanks to anomalously warm lows. This has extended well into Central Florida as well, with Orlando tying a record warm low on Saturday at 70 degrees. Fort Pierce set a record warm low Friday with 72.

Dew point temperatures have been hovering around the soupy 70 degree mark in Central Florida as well as South Florida.

That’s in Florida, but what about the rest of the country? Sunday’s forecast high in Chicago is 61. Rain and snow are set to close out the month, but by Thursday the forecast high is back up to 46.

Chicago warmth

(Image credit: NWS-Chicago)

National Weather Service forecasters in Chicago said in a special report: “What is Noteworthy About This? While 50s and even 60s certainly do happen in December, this prolonged duration was particularly noteworthy because it was accompanied with a great deal of sunshine and occurred late in the month (more rare) and overlapped the Christmas holiday.

“The weather pattern for several weeks had generally been a mild one. In fact December 2019 has only had five days with below normal temperatures in Chicago.

“The pattern has also been notably drier than much of the autumn was. The drier pattern has resulted in well below normal snowfall for December, and without snow on the ground locking in colder air, any cold surge has been temporary. Finally, southerly winds were dominant for days, resulting in inching up temperatures, and the sunny pattern (helped by lack of snow cover in the region), further resulted in warming.”

St. Louis is expected to hit 60 on Sunday, and after a brief mid-week cool-down the forecast high for next Saturday is 55.

On the East Coast, New York is forecast to be in the mid- to upper-40s all week, although New Year’s Eve is expected to be typically chilly, with a low around 33.

The only wintry game in town: A winter storm was bringing heavy snow to the Dakotas, Minnesota and northern Wisconsin; and it was forecast to drop freezing rain in parts of New England.

Back in South Florida: “Overnight low temperatures New Years Eve into New Years day are forecast to drop into the upper 50s to low 60s, with high temperatures New Years Day in the mid-70s [accompanied by] widespread sunshine and brisk northerly to northeasterly winds,” the National Weather Service in Miami said Sunday.

“Temperatures then jump aboard the all to familiar warming trend train for the remainder of the forecast period with overnight low temperatures running about 10 to 15 degrees above seasonal norms.”