Florida’s rain is mainly on the wane, forecasters say

Nate New Orleans forecast

New Orleans is preparing for a direct hit from Tropical Storm Nate this weekend, possibly as a hurricane. See Tropics Watch below for more. (Credit: NWS-New Orleans)

Put away the umbrellas and get ready to crank up the A/C.

The key point in Friday’s discussion of the seven-day forecast by the National Weather Service in Miami is: “Temperatures will be warmer than average for this time of year with increased sunshine and no signs of any cold/dry air intrusion into the region.”

Forecast highs are in the mid-80s along Florida’s East Coast, but nighttime lows aren’t expected to be much below 80 degrees through the end of next week.

The end of this particular phase of the hurricane season — it’s not over, unfortunately, by any stretch of the imagination — may be accompanied by hopes and dreams of open window weather. But you would be deeply disappointed, as high pressure gives center stage to a hot Florida sun and east to southeast winds keep temperatures summertime steamy at night.

During the second week of October, normal highs and lows in Miami are 87 and 75; 86 and 73 in West Palm beach.

Actually, lows were in the mid-70s in Miami Wednesday and Thursday, but only because the area was socked with almost 4 inches of rain. Thursday’s low in West Palm Beach was 73 because a 3-inch deluge cooled the early morning air.

Some people are already calling this week’s Bahamas low the No-Name Storm, since it received scant attention from the National Hurricane Center due to its inability to achieve a closed surface circulation.

Nevertheless, the 3 inches in coastal Palm Beach was accompanied by winds gusting up to 48 mph, nothing to sneeze at. The system was off the NHC outlook map on Friday, finally out in the Gulf of Mexico.

In any event, after Tropical Storm Nate finishes its business in the Gulf this weekend, a more summer-like pattern returns to South Florida next week, according to forecasters, with sea-breeze-inspired showers over the interior and closer to the West Coast.

By Monday, rain chances on the East Coast drop to 20 percent.

Just for fun, I checked the ultra-long-range forecast from AccuWeather and it doesn’t show any sub-70-degree lows until Halloween, when the forecast low is 68 and the forecast high is 80.

Nothing to hang your hat on, but an indication of the direction in which we are ultimately headed.

TROPICS WATCH: Nate is the only game in town when it comes to the Atlantic Basin, although the low near the Azores was given a 40 percent chance of becoming a tropical or subtropical depression — or perhaps Ophelia — over the next five days.

It’s expected to meander over the deep North-Central Atlantic for the next five days, and will likely have no affect on North America.

Nate is a different story. It’s expected to reach Category 1 hurricane status before socking southeastern Louisiana early Sunday morning. Hurricane Watches have been posted for the coast of Louisiana, and Tropical Storm Watches stretch east as far as Pensacola.

A state of emergency has been declared in Louisiana the National Guard is being mobilized. A pumping system that keeps New Orleans from flooding will be continuously monitored.

Nate may not have the wind muscle of an Irma or Maria, but it will dump dangerous amounts of rainfall all the way from southeastern Louisiana north through northern Georgia and the Appalachians. NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center suggests more than 8 inches of rain will cause havoc in the mountains of Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas.

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South Florida Flood Watch issued; Nate forms in Caribbean

Flood Watch

A Flood Watch was posted for Southeast Florida Thursday. (Credit: NWS)

October is Florida’s gateway to the dry season, but the gate remains firmly closed as the first week of the month winds down.

South Florida and most of the East Coast have seen rain every day since Sunday, and more is in the forecast through Saturday.

Melbourne logged 6.12 inches for the month through Wednesday, while Vero Beach has slogged through 4.21 inches. Fort Pierce’s total stood at 4.50 inches Wednesday night.

West Palm Beach has had one of the lighter totals at 0.70; Fort Lauderdale has had 1.20 inches and Miami, 3.01.

Wednesday’s totals: 1.87 inches in Miami; top wind gust 37; 0.28 in Fort Lauderdale, top wind gust 42; 0.27 in West Palm Beach, top gust 40 mph; 0.50 in Fort Pierce, top gust 33 mph; 1.06 in Vero Beach, top gust 48 mph; and 0.77 in Melbourne, top gust 39 mph.

The West Coast was mostly dry, with a few areas reporting a trace to just under a tenth of an inch.

The National Weather Service says patterns will shift next week toward more normal rainy season-type afternoon showers, and NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting above-normal precipitation up and down the Florida peninsula through at least October 18.

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In addition to newly-minuted Tropical Storm Nate, the NHC was watching two other areas of disturbed weather. The area near the Florida Keys was not expected to develop, and a newly-identified system near the Azores was given a 20 percent chance of becoming a depression, or Tropical Storm Ophelia, in five days. (Credit: NHC)

TROPICS WATCH: Tropical Depression 16 was upgraded to Tropical Storm Nate at 8 a.m. Thursday by the National Hurricane Center. It was near the coast of Honduras Thursday. The forecast track takes it into the Gulf of Mexico as a tropical storm and to the northern Gulf Coast Sunday as a minimal Category 1 hurricane with winds of 75 mph.

However, in Thursday morning’s run, the GFS was underwhelmed with TD 16 and had it limping into the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday after moving over the Yucatan Peninsula. The European kept it off the northeastern tip of the Yucatan before drilling it into Southeastern Louisiana Sunday as a tropical storm.

The Canadian (CMC) was more in line with the GFS, but the Navy model (NAVGEM) had a formidable storm hitting Louisiana on Sunday. Ditto for the hurricane models HWRF abnd HMON.

“The intensity models have continued their downward trend,” NHC forecaster Jack Bevin said in the agency’s 5 a.m. advisory. “But the NHC forecast remains near the higher side of the guidance due to … favorable conditions and persistence from the previous advisory.

“Some additional strengthening is possible while the system moves over the southern
and central Gulf of Mexico, and the NHC intensity forecast brings the system to hurricane strength within 72 hours.”

Nate was forecast to bring 15-20 inches of rain to parts of Nicaragua and 5-10 inches in Costa Rica and Panama. Forecasters warned of flash floods and mudslides.

Forecasters scramble to keep up with Florida’s fast-changing tropical outlook

Rainfall forecast

Southeastern Florida was again looking at the potential for heavy rainfall through Friday. (Credit: NWS-Miami)

Winds were gusting to near tropical storm strength along Florida’s East Coast Monday and Tuesday, with one tropical system at the doorstep and another one possible on Thursday.

The National Hurricane Center identified a tropical disturbance in the Bahamas early Tuesday and predicted it would slide west across the southern Florida peninsula, causing gusty winds and squally weather. But forecasters gave it a near-zero percent chance of becoming the next tropical cyclone because wind shear off the Florida coast is running at between 40-50 knots, a hostile environment for development.

Nevertheless, the GFS forecast model and the Canadian model (CMC) were showing a closed low moving into the southern peninsula on Thursday, which the National Weather service said will keep rain chances high — with more gusty winds — through the end of the week.

Through Tuesday morning, gusts were in the 30-plus-mph range from Miami to Melbourne.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport reported a gust of 37 mph and an observer on the barrier island northeast of the airport reported a gust of 39 mph.

Monday’s rainfall wasn’t nearly as heavy as Sunday — especially on the Treasure Coast, where record rain flooded roads. Monday’s totals were around an inch or less from Miami-Dade up to Brevard County.

Still, the National Weather Service in Miami had all of coastal South Florida under a Flood Advisory, since seasonal “king tides” may coincide with heavy rainfall from the tropical disturbances near the area.

“Poor drainage due to debris from the recovery of Irma may also cause some roadways and low lying areas to drain slower than normal resulting in flooding,” NWS forecasters said Tuesday.

RECORD WATCH: Miami had its warmest September on record, the National Weather Service said. The mean average temperature in Miami was 84.8 degrees, busting the previous record-warm September of 84.0 set in 1989.

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TROPICS WATCH: The NHC upped development chances for the western Caribbean to 30 percent over the next five days. Forecast models have been keeping this system west of the Florida peninsula.

Brevard County slammed with more than 10 inches of rain as wet and wild week begins

Florida’s East-Central Coast was hammered with record rainfall Sunday as a front stalled over the area and pumped in heavy rain from the Atlantic.

Officially, Melbourne was socked with 5.23 inches of rain, setting a new daily precipitation record. The old mark, 1.01 inches set 51 years ago in 1966, was easily washed away.

Floridana Beach on the barrier island southeast of Melbourne reported 10.65 inches.

The National Weather Service said showers and storms “trained” over parts of coastal Brevard County — meaning that the same areas were exposed to a continuing flow of heavy rain cells — with 9 to more than 10 inches in multiple areas.

About an inch-and-a-half fell in Daytona Beach and Vero Beach, with 0.88 of an inch measured in Fort Pierce, the southern end of Sunday’s rainfall event. Orlando picked up about a half-inch.

Brevard was hit the hardest, but Clay and Putnam counties in Northeast Florida reported up to 5 inches, according to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network.

The rain and associated front was forecast to shift south on Monday, but NWS forecasters in Miami said rain showers over South Florida should be fast-moving due to brisk easterly winds. Flooding was not expected.

The weather was forecast to be wet and windy all week over the southern peninsula with gusts over 35 mph by Tuesday. Rain chances stay at about 70 percent through Thursday, forecasters said.

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Weather near the Yucatan could generate tropical activity by the end of the week. Another area of interest east of the Bahamas had a “near zero” percent chance of development, NHC forecasters said Monday night, but convection was firing up close to the center. It was moving west toward South Florida at 20 mph and was expected to spread “locally heavy rainfall and strong gusty winds in brief squalls across portions of the northwestern Bahamas overnight, and across much of South Florida by Tuesday morning and continuing into Tuesday afternoon.” (Credit: NHC)

TROPICS WATCH: National Hurricane Center forecasters got out their yellow markers Monday and identified a potential tropical system in the northwestern Caribbean near Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula that could develop over the next five days.

Forecasters gave the area a 20 percent chance of tropical development by Friday as it drifts north into the Gulf of Mexico.

There seems to be some agreement among the major models that a system will develop over the weekend in the Gulf and move toward the Florida panhandle or perhaps the Big Bend area. That scenario was supported by the GFS, European (ECMWF), Canadian (CMC) and the Navy model (NAVGEM).

The GFS and ECMWF depict weak lows, while the CMC and NAVGEM are a bit more aggressive. The CMC is the farthest east with its forecast, showing the low moving into Florida’s Big Bend area, while the NAVGEM takes it farthest west, toward the central Gulf Coast.

4-plus inches of rain soak parts of Florida peninsula, more on the way

7 day precip

A week of very wet weather is forecast for Florida’s East Coast. (Credit: NOAA/ WPC)

Friday’s storms dumped 1.30 inches of rain at Miami International Airport, bringing the city’s soggy September total to almost 15 inches. More was forecast for Saturday to round out the month.

Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach both reported about a half-inch, but Naples checked in with a 2.91-inch drenching — impressive, but short of the 6.93-inch daily record set on September 29, 2003.

Key West had .30 of an inch and a two-day total of 1.75 inches, while Marathon had 1.21 inches Friday and a two-day total of 1.47 inches.

On the Treasure Coast, Vero Beach reported 2.2 inches, while 1.13 inches fell in Melbourne. Those were National Weather Service totals, but an observer for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network in northeastern Indian River County reported a 4.48-inch soaking.

Almost an inch fell in Fort Myers and 1.13 inches fell in Punta Gorda on Florida’s West Coast.

Excessive Rainfall warnings were posted by NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center for Northeast Florida on Saturday and Sunday. The WPC was predicting between 5-7 inches of rain for Florida’s entire East Coast over the next week.

The National Weather Service says next week’s rain will be set up by a cold front that settles into Central Florida while high pressure builds into the Southeastern U.S. The pressure gradient will trigger wind gusts of up to 34 mph on Tuesday in Florida’s East Coast areas.

Rain chances stay in the 50-60 percent range all week.

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The National Hurricane Center on Saturday lowered development chances for both areas of interest on the agency’s Tropical Weather Outlook map. Chance of development for the system near Puerto Rico was near zero, forecasters said, but a Flash Flood Watch was posted for the battered island. (Credit: NHC)

SATURDAY FORECAST MODEL SNAPSHOT: The GFS was still focused on a Caribbean system rolling up Florida’s West Coast next weekend, but the low depicted was much weaker than in previous runs. The European also showed a weekend system in its early Saturday run, but over the northwestern Bahamas, and one that ejects to the northeast on Sunday.

The Canadian (CMC) forecast a low in the Florida Straits around mid-week, which continues west across the Gulf of Mexico. A Caribbean disturbance was also shoved west across the Yucatan Peninsula and into the Bay of Campeche.

Tropical threats ring alarm bells in Florida; dike may be at risk

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The National Hurricane Center was watching two areas of interest on Friday, in addition to Tropical Storm Maria and Tropical Storm Lee to the north. (Credit: NHC)

Friday’s National Hurricane Center forecast map along with computer model runs show Florida dodging more bullets than Mike Connors in a Mannix episode.

It’s certainly not the forecast map folks want to see as one of the busiest Septembers in hurricane history ends and a potentially nerve-wracking October begins.

In addition to areas being monitored by the NHC, Friday’s run of the GFS had a tropical system developing in the Caribbean off the coast of Honduras next weekend and pushing up to the northeast tip of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. It then brought the storm ashore in Southwestern Florida the following Tuesday.

The European (ECMWF) depicted a weaker system in the Caribbean but the Canadian model (CMC) basically echoed the GFS, bringing a much weaker storm into Southwest Florida next weekend.

Yes, these are computer model “snapshots” that change every six to 12 hours, but it’s certainly an indication that forecasts for the next week to 10 days need to be watched closely.

As for the mass of convection off the coast of Cuba on Friday, Invest 99L, the NHC was still giving it a 40 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or Tropical Storm Nate by Sunday — but development is now forecast for the West Coast, not the East Coast.

Excessive rainfall outlook
The southern two-thirds of the Florida peninsula area at risk for Excessive Rainfall. (Credit: NOAA/ WPC. NWS-Miami)

Nevertheless, NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center put most of the Florida peninsula under an Excessive Rainfall advisory, which means some flooding could occur.

A heavy rain event is exactly what the doctor DID NOT order for Central and South Florida, since Lake Okeechobee is close to its highest water level in a decade, as Jeff Masters reports in a Weather Underground blog.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is pumping water as fast as possible out of the lake, but forecasts are causing concern for pressure on the dike that surrounds the lake and protects areas nearby from catastrophic flooding.

“The current high-water levels do not present an immediate danger to the dike, but should another hurricane bring widespread rain amounts of 10+ inches to Florida sometime in the next month, there will be a significant danger of failure,” Masters said.

On Friday morning’s NHC Tropical Weather Outlook map, a tropical wave in the northeastern Caribbean was given a 20 percent chance of development as it moves toward the west-northwest over the next five days.

Heavy rain is in the forecast for Puerto Rico, which is likely to further frustrate recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria.

“Locally heavy rainfall is expected and additional flash flooding is possible,” National Weather Service forecasters in San Juan said in their Friday analysis.

Lee becomes season’s eighth hurricane; a run-down of Florida rainfall totals

Hurricane Maria size

Hurricane Maria is as big as the entire State of Florida, as this graphic from the National Weather Service in Melbourne notes. Maria made its closest approach to the Treasure Coast on Sunday — about 450 miles. The only impacts were very rough surf and dangerous rip currents up and down Florida’s East Coast.  (Credit: NWS-Melbourne)

 

What happened to Saturday’s heavy rain? Well, it was very localized. An observer in Fort Lauderdale reported 3.2 inches — while a few miles to the south another  Broward County observer reported just 0.05 of an inch.

Officially, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport posted a goose egg.

Central Miami-Dade County reported 3.18 inches, according to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network, but Miami International Airport measured 0.43 of an inch.

West Palm Beach had 0.12 of an inch.

Rain was light on the Treasure Coast, although an observer in northeastern St. Lucie County reported 1.02 inches.

Up the coast, an observer west of St. Augustine checked in with 2.12 inches, but Jacksonville reported only a trace of rain.

On Sunday, the National Weather Service was predicting a dry start to the week followed by higher rain chances south of Lake Okeechobee toward the end of the week.

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TROPICS WATCH: Sunday’s model snapshot continued to suggest possible development in the Caribbean the first week in October. The Canadian (CMC) was still advertising a tropical storm spinning up north of Hispaniola and moving into the southern tip of the Florida peninsula a week from Wednesday.

In the Central Atlantic, Lee became a hurricane in a special National Hurricane Center advisory at 2:30 a.m. Sunday. At 5 a.m., the NHC said Lee was rapidly intensifying and could reach just short of major hurricane status while it makes a lazy loop well east of Bermuda. It still appears to be no threat to land.

That makes eight hurricanes for the 2017 season — only one short of the high end of the NOAA August seasonal forecast, which was for five to nine. Colorado State University predicted eight hurricanes in its July and August updates, but this year’s actual pace has already out-run other preseason forecasts. The UK’s Tropical Storm Risk predicted seven hurricanes  in its July update.

HURRICANE MARIA was slightly weaker on Sunday at 110 mph, but forecasters warned that parts of the U.S. East Coast could feel direct effects of the storm. They said residents along coastal Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic should pay particular attention.

Maria was at 72.7W Sunday morning and was expected to keep moving north-northwest to 73.5W by Tuesday, when it was forecast to be at 34N.