Florida Keys hammered with heavy rain, weekend warm-up in sight

IT’S FINALLY OFFICIAL: A weak El Niño formed last month in the Pacific, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said Thursday. The above average water temperatures that indicate an El Niño tend to have an impact on the winter in North America, and the phenomenon generally leads to stormy weather during Florida’s winter.

That may not be the case this year.

El Niño conditions can also suppress tropical storm development in the Atlantic, but forecasters said chances of El Niño lasting beyond spring was 50 percent or less.

“Due to the expected weak strength, widespread or significant global impacts are not anticipated,” the CPC said in its first El Niño Advisory. “However, the impacts often associated with El Niño may occur in some locations during the next few
months.”

NOAA’s spring outlook — March through May — will be updated next Thursday February 21.

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FL Keys rainfall

(Image credit: NWS-Key West)

More than 2 inches of rain pounded parts of South Florida and the Keys on Wednesday, and with some cool temperatures to boot, there weren’t many selfie moments for the tourist crowd.

A lot of Florida cities didn’t make it to 70 degrees, especially on the West Coast, where Tampa topped out at 64 and Punta Gorda made it to 68. The best Brooksville could do was 62 degrees.

Gainesville was 65 — 21 degrees colder than Tuesday’s record high of 86 degrees. The city had 0.16 of an inch of rain.

The Keys were an exception. The high in Marathon was 80, giving Florida the nation’s high temperature for the sixth day in a row. Not only that, but Marathon reported the heaviest rain in the state — 2.45 inches, a record for the date. That obliterated the previous record for the date of 0.80 inches in 1983.

The high was 78 in Key West, where 0.84 of an inch of rain fell.

Marathon also picked up the most rain in the state — 2.45 inches.

Officially, Fort Lauderdale measured 1.27 inches of rain on Wednesday and Homestead reported an unofficial 1.89 inches. Miami checked in with 0.76 of an inch, Naples 0.71 and West Palm Beach, 0.40.

In Central Florida, Orlando received 0.68 of an inch; Melbourne 1.29 inches; Vero Beach, 0.89 and Fort Pierce, 0.58.

West Coast: Tampa, 0.32; Lakeland, 0.48; Sarasota, 0.11; and Fort Myers, 1.16.

Now comes the big late winter warm-up, with temperatures hitting 80 around most of the state on Friday and the mid-80s by early next week, according to the National Weather Service.

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DROUGHT CONDITIONS UNCHANGED: The U.S. Drought Monitor continued to designate coastal South Florida and East-Central Florida as Abnormally Dry with a slice of Moderate Drought (D1) running from Brevard County south into Martin County.

Dryness and drought only exist in southeastern Florida. Several tenths of an inch fell on northern sections of the dry area, and little or none fell on central and southern portions,” NOAA’s Richard Tinker wrote on Thursday. “No substantial changes in conditions and impacts were noted, so the Drought Monitor depiction remained the same as last week.”

Note, however, that although the drought report is released on Thursday, it only covers conditions through Tuesday.

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Melbourne posts record high with 88, warmest in nation; temps to rebound after cold front

CFL rainfall

RAINFALL REPORT: More than 3 inches of rain was reported in Central Florida Wednesday as a cold front rolled across the Florida peninsula. The 3-plus inch total was reported in Brevard County while the National Weather Service in Melbourne reported an official 2.22 inches. Across the state, Sanibel Island reported 1.84 inches, according to CoCoRaHS. (Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

Florida temperatures are on a roller coaster ride this week, dipping down into the upper 40s in Central Florida by Thursday morning only to rebound back into the 80s by the weekend.

The quick cold snap was preceded by record heat on Tuesday as Melbourne posted a high of 88, smashing the old record for the date of 85 set just one year ago. That was also the high for the nation — the fifth day in a row that a Florida city had the nation’s high.

Jacksonville set a record high with 84, beating the old record of 83 set in 1965; and Gainesville had a high of 86, beating the old record of 84 set in 1950. It was the second time in the past five days that Gainesville reached 86, a temperature the city doesn’t see on average until March 26.

Down the coast, Fort Pierce tied a record high with 87, matching the mark set in 1994.

In the Keys, Marathon tied a record high with 86. The record was previously set in 1986.

Two record warm minimum temperatures were posted around the state as well:

  • Fort Lauderdale’s low on Tuesday was 74, which beat the old record warm minimum of 73 set on February 12 a year ago.
  • Tuesday’s low in Key West was a balmy 77 degrees, tying the record warm low set a year ago.
  • Orlando and Daytona Beach each missed tying record lows by 1 degree.

After the Wednesday-Thursday cool-down, temperatures should be back near 80 by Friday, and another cold front that approaches the state later in the weekend is expected to be deflected by high pressure over the peninsula.

Of course it’s still winter — meteorological spring starts March 1 and astronomical spring begins on Wednesday, March 20 — but the second half of February can bring some summer-type temperatures around Florida.

Thursday is the earliest 90-degree temperature recorded in Fort Lauderdale (February 14, 1948); in Miami it’s March 2, 2003 and in West Palm Beach it’s February 10 (1949). The first 90-degree day occurred in Naples on March 8, 1974.

In Orlando the first 90 degree high occurred on February 15, 1935; February 24 in Melbourne (92 degrees, set in 1962). Tampa’s first 90-degree day didn’t occur until March 16, 1945.

Record temps on Florida’s East Coast; talking may drive you buggy, researchers say

WCFL highs

TOASTY TEMPS TO START THE WEEK: Interior areas of West-Central Florida should see highs in the mid-80s on Monday, according to the National Weather Service. (Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

Record warm nighttime temperatures are popping up once again on Florida’s East Coast.

Sunday’s low at Marathon in the Keys was only 76 degrees, which tied a record warm minimum for February 10 — which was set just a year ago.

A record warm minimum temperature was also recorded at Vero Beach — 68 degrees, tying a mark set 37 year ago in 1982. Orlando tied a record warm minimum with 65, matching a mark set in 1990; and Sanford also bottomed out at 65, tying a record warm temperature record set in 1982.

RAINFALL REPORT: North-Central Florida and Northeast Florida were slammed with another round of rain Sunday, with some areas picking up around a half- to three-quarters of an inch.

Melbourne reported record rainfall with 0.76 of an inch. That was good enough to beat the previous record for February 10 of 0.61 of an inch, set in back in 1983.

February is typically one of the driest months of the year in Florida — it’s the absolute driest in South Florida — but a series of stalled cold fronts have been making this February an exception. The timing is good, since the East Coast and some interior areas had been building toward serious drought conditions since last fall.

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SPRING SNEAK PEEK: The Old Farmer’s Almanac expects a wet spring in Florida. “While heading to the beach in April may sound like a good idea, the God of Thunder may have other plans,” The Almanac says in its forecast.

NOAA’s spring forecast will be issued a week from Thursday on February 21. It’ll include separate forecasts for March and one for March, April and May.

For now, NOAA is sticking with its prediction that Florida will be cooler and wetter than average the last week of February and the first week of March.

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WHAT’S THE BUZZ? If you’re sitting outside on your patio without a screened enclosure you may want to keep the noise down — and not just to appease your neighbors. It turns out mosquitoes can hear humans from 32 feet away, researchers have discovered.

A conversation in Florida may be akin to ringing a dinner bell, although there’s no definitive proof that human voices cause the pesky bugs to home in on people, according to the study by Cornell University and Binghamton University.

“The insects are known to pick up sensory cues such as carbon dioxide, odors and warmth to locate people,” Cornell says in a news release. “But the results do show an intriguing correlation ….”

Coastal Palm Beach slammed with more than 5 inches of rain

Marathon high temp

(Image credit: NWS-Key West)

Coastal Palm Beach County was hammered with rain Friday as storms developed off-shore and then drifted inland.

Barrier islands were the most affected, but Palm Beach International Airport, a few miles inland, racked up 1.43 inches through early Saturday morning.

A CoCoRaHS observer on Singer Island — northeast of West Palm Beach — checked in with a 24-hour total of 5.15 inches. Just to the north in Juno Beach, a National Weather Service observer reported 2.91 inches. And an observer just west of Lake Mangonia in West Palm Beach measured 3.67 inches.

The island of Palm Beach — near the Par 3 Golf Course — reported 2.91 inches.

Coastal Broward County picked up a fair share of precip as well. Pompano Beach reported 2.78 inches while Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport reported 0.83. Miami International Airport, though, only had a trace.

A TASTE OF THE WARM-UP TO COME: Marathon had a high temperature Friday of 84 degrees, tying a record high set in 2008. It was 80 in Key West.

Highs in Orlando are forecast to be near 80 by the end of next week.

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PHIL SPRINGS INTO ACTION: Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow Saturday morning after emerging from his burrow in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and forecast an early spring.

The last time Phil predicted an early spring, in 2016, he was correct. He has predicted an early spring only 18 times in the 122-year history of the event. Still, the pros at NOAA and the National Weather Service aren’t impressed.

“While Groundhog Day is a way to have a little fun at mid-winter, climate records and statistics tell us that winter probably isn’t over,” NOAA says on its Groundhog Day website. “Climatologically speaking, the three coldest months of the year are December, January, and February, so winter typically still has a bit to go when the groundhog comes out in search of his shadow on February 2.”

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January SFL wrap

South Florida’s January at a glance. For January stats in the rest of the state, see Friday’s Florida Weather Watch post. (Image credit: NWS-Miami)

After dry start, January ends with hefty rainfall surpluses

Chicagao temps

POLAR VORTEX TAKES A POWDER: After a brutally cold mid-week, the Upper Midwest is seeing a dramatic warm-up, with temperatures in the 50s in Chicago by Monday. (Image credit: NWS-Chicago)

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Weather watchers who look back on January 2019 will see a very wet month with mostly average temperatures. The truth is a bit more complicated — the first half of the month was warm and bone-dry; the second half cool and wet.

West Palm Beach capped off the month Thursday with 2.05 inches of rain, bringing the January total to 6.67 inches, 3.54 inches over normal. But through January 23, the area had only recorded 0.30 of an inch, with the rest of it coming over the following eight days. Ten of the final 15 days had below normal temperatures.

Miami didn’t get Thursday’s rain and ended the month with 2 inches, 0.38 of an inch above average. Temperatures were close to normal. Fort Lauderdale was 0.58 of an inch over the January average with 4.21 inches; and Naples was 0.67 of an inch over normal with 2.52 inches.

Key West was warmer and drier than average with a rainfall shortage of 0.29 inches and a temperature 1.9 degrees above average.

Up the coast, Melbourne came in with 4.47 inches (plus-2.2 inches); Fort Pierce, 3.95 (plus-1.38); Vero Beach, 4.04 (plus-1.54); Orlando, 3.5 (plus-1.15); and Daytona Beach, 3.81 (plus-1.07).

West Coast: Tampa, 4.21 inches (plus-1.98); Lakeland, 4.44 (plus-1.8); Brooksville, 3.77 (plus-0.55); and Fort Myers, 5.1 (plus 3.16).

North Florida: Jacksonville, 4.37 inches (plus-1.07 and Gainesville, 5.42 (plus-2.11)

Most locations up and down the peninsula had temperatures within a degree of normal, but Jacksonville ended the month 1.8 degrees above normal and Gainesville was plus-1.9 degrees.

In a big switch from December, Tallahassee turned in a precipitation shortfall in January with 3.47 inches — 0.87 of an inch below average. Apalachicola was down 1.11 inches with 3.29. Temperatures were about a degree above January averages.

FEBRUARY OUTLOOK: This is Florida, after all, and temperatures begin edging up in February. The normal high in Miami goes up from 77 to 79, while the normal low jumps 3 degrees from 61 to 64.

The average high in Orlando goes from 72 on February 1 to 76 on February 28; Tampa’s high skips from 71 to 74.

The February forecast released Thursday by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center calls for above normal temperatures in Florida.

Keys forecast

THIS IS MORE LIKE IT: Highs near 80 are forecast for the Keys on Sunday. (Image credit: NWS-Key West)

Florida drought conditions improve after weekend rains

Drought conditions in Florida eased dramatically after last weekend’s heavy rains, The U.S. Drought Monitor reported Thursday.

A slice of the state’s East Coast from Brevard County south to Palm Beach County, was cut from Severe Drought to Moderate Drought, and areas that had been struggling with Moderate Drought are now designated as Abnormally Dry.

“Almost the entire region received ample precipitation for the week, with areas of Florida recording close to 4 inches above normal,” said Brian Fuchs, of the National Drought Mitigation Center. “The ample rain in south Florida allowed for a full category improvement to the drought status this week where severe drought was eliminated and moderate drought was confined to the coastal regions of east Florida.”

While the weekend storms gave many areas of South Florida a precipitation surplus for January, the area is still feeling the effects of an unusually dry fall. Normal to below normal precipitation is in the long-range forecast for the Florida peninsula.

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febforecast

(Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

All signs point to a nice February turnaround for Florida after a wet and cooler-than-normal second half of January.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for warm temperatures throughout the Keys, the peninsula and even the panhandle through at least February 13. In fact, the new February forecast released by the CPC on Thursday is calling for above-normal temperatures for the month.

Through a 10-day period from Saturday — which is February 2, through Sunday, February 10, AccuWeather is predicting that nine of those days will have highs ranging from 78-82, with Naples reaching temperatures as high as 86.

Inland from Naples in Immokalee, AccuWeather is calling for a streak of nine days in the 80s, capped by a high of 88 on February 10.

Weekend washout: Rainfall records smashed from Orlando to Fort Lauderdale

record rainfall

(Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

Florida’s weekend deluge wiped out monthly rainfall deficits with record totals on both the East Coast and West Coast.

Melbourne was hit with 3.74 inches, making it the wettest January 27 ever, and it also ranked as the third-wettest day in January behind January 12, 1974 (4.70 inches) and January 20, 1983 (4.13 inches).

Vero Beach reported 2.66 inches, beating the daily record of 2.25 inches set in 2016. It was the fourth-wettest day in January for Vero Beach on record.

Orlando set a rainfall record with 2.01 inches, beating the old daily record of 1.74 inches set in 2016.

Fort Pierce reported 3.29 inches, which broke the old record of 2.33 inches et in 2016. It was the fourth-wettest January day on record.

Down the coast, Fort Lauderdale picked up 1.42 inches Sunday, which tied a rainfall record set in 1980.

On the West Coast, Fort Myers was slammed with 3.67 inches, beating the old mark of 3.29 inches set in 2016.

Here are the Thursday-Sunday rainfall totals from the system that has finally slid off the state’s East Coast on Monday: West Palm Beach, 4.25 inches; Fort Lauderdale, 3.72; Miami, 1.68; and Naples, 2.12.

All three major reporting stations in South Florida have erased January rainfall deficits and are now showing surpluses ranging from around a half-inch in Naples to more than an inch and a half in West Palm Beach.

Four-day totals in the Keys: Key West, 1.21; Marathon, 0.92.

SEVERE WEATHER: The National Weather Service in Miami was investigating a reports of a tornado in Hialeah on Sunday afternoon.

Although Central Florida cities saw heavy rain on Sunday, their four-day totals were about a half-inch less than South Florida because Saturday was mostly dry north of Lake Okeechobee.

panhandle temps

CRAZY COLD (FOR FLORIDA): Mid-week lows in the panhandle could fall into the mid-20s. (Image credit: NWS-Tallahassee)

A cool week is coming up statewide, the National Weather Service says, with highs only in the mid- to upper-60s in South Florida and the 50s to low 60s in Central and North Florida.

But take heart: New long-range forecasts from the GFS model — and NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center — are calling for an early February warm-up, with high temperatures climbing back into the 80s around the southern half of the peninsula, possibly through the first half of the month.

There’s some indication that we may see a flip during the second half of February, with cooler temperatures returning. This is what happened in January, which was warm the first half with a chilly finale.

RECORD WATCH: As the frontal system drifted north on Sunday, bringing heavy rain, the Keys were in the warm sector. As such, Marathon posted a record high temperature of 84 degrees. That tied a record for the date set in 1972 and 2004.