Finally: All quiet on the tropical front; Another record temp in Key West

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(Image credit: NHC)

The National Hurricane Center’s Tropical Outlook map is clear for the first time since July 2. Nature is apparently going on summer break after three named storms. And if the Colorado State University forecast pans out, we may only have eight more to go before the season ends on November 30.

Of course that’s a big “if.”

As of Monday there were no active tropical storms in the Western Hemisphere, although the NHC was tracking a couple of likely candidates in the northeastern Pacific, including Invest 99EP. It had an 80 percent chance of development as it heads west into the Central Pacific. Forecast models show it going south of Hawaii.

Another system to the east of 99EP had a 30 percent chance of development.

Based on averages from 1966-2009, the fourth named storms doesn’t form in the Atlantic until August 23, so we’re actually ahead of the game.

RECORD WATCH: Key West tied another record warm minimum temperature Sunday with 84 degrees, matching the mark for the date set in 2009. It was the sixth warm temperature record set or tied this month in Key West.

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IRMA AND FLORIDA’S ALGAE CRISIS: The toxic algae bloom in Lake Okeechobee, which has spread to both coasts via the St. Lucie River and the Caloosahatchee River, is as bad as the summer of 2016 — and may end up eclipsing that event.

Although the effects on tourism, business, and health have been front and center in media reports, I haven’t seen much on the science behind the blue-green algae bloom. A prime culprit is agricultural runoff of nutrients high nitrogen and phosphorus from farming and cattle ranching in Central Florida and South Florida.

But that’s been going on for almost 100 years. Why is it so bad this summer? There’s this explanation from Sea Grant Florida, an organization affiliated with the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida. It tapes into the expertise of 800 coastal and ocean scientists.

In a July 6 analysis, Sea Grant Director Karl Havens says last September’s Hurricane Irma is partly to blame for the magnitude of this summer’s algae explosion.

“The storm brought heavy rainfall over the watersheds located north of the lake and around the two estuaries. Each of these three watersheds contain sources of high nitrogen and phosphorus levels from past and present agricultural activities and leaking septic systems. One heavy rainfall can flush these bloom-fueling nutrients into the lake and estuaries.

“And, that’s exactly what happened. This rainfall, combined with extremely hot summer days and plenty of sunshine completed the recipe for today’s massive blooms.”

Havens warns that a warming climate threatens to make algae blooms a worldwide problem, and that they may become “more intense and more toxic.”

“It will be easier to control blooms by curtailing nutrient inputs now than it will be in a warmer future,” he says.

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Key West posts fifth temperature record of the month; ex-Beryl bounces back

SIZZLING IN THE KEYS: Ocean water surrounding the Florida Keys tends to keep the chain warmer in the winter and a little milder in the summer. That hasn’t been the case this summer as Key West Checked in with its fifth record high temperature on Friday.

Friday’s high of 94 tied a 62-year-old record set back in 1956. The island has had two other record highs this month along with two record warm minimum temperatures.

By comparison, South Florida locations from Miami to Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach have had no record-setting temps this month, while Naples has had one, a record high of 96 on July 10.

Through Friday, Key West temperatures are running 2.3 degrees above normal. Marathon is 1.3 degrees above average for July.

The average high temperature in Key West this time of the year is 89, but it will edge up to 90 on Thursday, July 19. The average low is 80.

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UPDATE: Beryl was reborn on Saturday as a subtropical storm with winds of 40 mph. It was forecast to become a subtropical depression late Sunday and may affect Newfoundland on Tuesday. On Friday, Post-Tropical Storm Chris brought heavy rain to Newfoundland and a wind gust of 57 mph to St. John’s International Airport, according to CBC News. (Image credit: NHC)

TROPICS WATCH: Things can change fast in the tropics. Ex-Beryl was showing a few signs of life Saturday, one day after the National Hurricane Center said the remnants of the storm were being battered by strong upper-level winds that were “expected to become even less conducive” for redevelopment.

But the system was producing near gale force winds east of the center Saturday and forecasters said “some additional development is possible today and tonight, and a subtropical or tropical cyclone could form before the system moves over cold water north of the Gulf Stream on Sunday.”

They bumped redevelopment chances back up to 50 percent.

In any case, development would likely be no more than a footnote to the 2018 hurricane season, since ex-Beryl is far off-shore and looks to be headed north-northeast.

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Tallahassee radar down

OUT OF ORDER: Tallahassee radar will be down for maintenance Monday through Friday of next week. The upgrades, part of the Service Life Extension Project (SLEP), “will keep the radar going strong into the 2030s,” National Weather Service forecasters said. (Credit: NWS-Tallahassee)

Key West ties 136-year-old high temperature record; Chris makes Category 2

June state temps

HOT TOPIC: It was the third warmest June on record nationwide, behind only 1933 and 2016, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information reported this week. The average temperature over the contiguous 48 states was 71.5 degrees, 3 degrees above the 20th century average. Florida and most of the U.S. South was much above normal. Only Maine and Vermont had below normal temperatures in June. (Image credit: NOAA/ NCEI)

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HISTORIC HIGH: Key West topped out at 94 degrees on Tuesday, tying a 136-year-old high temperature record high for the date. The last time it was that warm in Key West on July 10, Chester A. Arthur was president and Thomas Edison was busy building the country’s first electrical power plant in Manhattan. It was 1882.

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(Image credit: NHC)

Tropics Watch: Hurricane Chris became the Atlantic’s first Category 2 storm of the 2018 season late Tuesday night, and the National Hurricane Center predicted it would come within a whisker of being the first major hurricane of the year. Chris had top winds of 105 mph at 5 a.m. Wednesday and forecasters said it would top out at 110 mph late in the day Wednesday. If it reached 111 mph, it would be a major Category 3 storm.

The only land mass in its path, however, is Newfoundland, which could begin feeling the effects of Chris on Thursday afternoon.

The GFS shows nothing of note in the Atlantic through July 27, the European and Canadian models through July 21, and the NAVGEM through July 16.

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RAINFALL REPORT: The Altamonte Springs area in Seminole County was smacked with more than 3 inches of rain on Tuesday, according to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network. An observer west of Orlando reported 2.09 inches.

In Broward County, an observer west of Fort Lauderdale reported 2.31 inches. An observer in Miramar reported 1.72 inches to the National Weather Service in Miami.

 

Tropical Storm Chris forms; Beryl may regenerate over Bahamas

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5 PM UPDATE: Beryl was officially downgraded to a tropical wave late Sunday, but the NHC is still talking about regeneration in the Bahamas toward the end of the week. See analysis below. (Image credit: NHC)

FORECASTERS EYE BERYL REBIRTH IN BAHAMAS: “On days 3-5, there appears to be an opportunity for the remnants of Beryl to regenerate into a tropical cyclone when the system moves through the Bahamas and into the southwestern Atlantic,” the National Hurricane Center’s Stacy Stewart said in the 11 a.m. analysis of the storm, which is forecast to get downgraded to a tropical wave on Monday.

“Vertical wind shear conditions are forecast by most of the models to be light, with even the possibility of the development of a weak upper-level anticyclone across the Bahamas. The combination of the favorable upper-level wind flow pattern in conjunction with sea-surface temperatures of 28-29 degrees C should yield conditions conducive for the reformation of a tropical cyclone, although Beryl’s low-level remnants are likely to be significantly disrupted by Hispaniola and could take some time to reform.”

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ORIGINAL POST: For what’s been forecast to be a slow hurricane season, July is off to a brisk start with two named storms on the map as we head into the second week of the month.

Tropical Storm Chris, the season’s third named storm, formed early Sunday morning off the coast of the Carolinas and was forecast to meander off shore until Tuesday, after which it’s forecast by the National Hurricane Center to track northeast and become the season’s second hurricane.

Tropical Storm Beryl, east of the Leeward Islands, was expected to fall apart and become an open wave as it nears the Caribbean, but some of the forecast models predict regeneration after the storm turns north into the Central Bahamas by mid-week.

The National Weather Service in Miami says the system will be too far east of the Florida peninsula to have a direct impact. “However,” forecasters said in their Sunday discussion, “this will breakdown the Atlantic ridging and will turn winds more southerly. The southerly winds will bring an increase of moisture to the region and an increase in rain chances for the end of the week.”

The NHC predicts Chris will top out as an 80-mph hurricane by Wednesday as it stays off-shore but moves in the general direction of Nova Scotia.

RAINFALL REPORT: Interior areas of Central Florida were the rainfall winners on Saturday, with almost 2.5 inches falling in Osceola County, 2 inches in Orange County north of Orlando, and an inch southwest of Gainesville in Alachua County. Close to 1.5 inches fell in parts of the Tallahassee area.

RECORD WATCH: An interesting weather dichotomy on Florida’s East Coast on Saturday — Vero Beach tied a record low temperature with 69 degrees, matching a mark last set in 1986. At the same time, Key West set a new record warm low temperature of 85, beating the previous record of 84 set in 2014. It was the second day in a row with a record warm low in Key West.

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RED TIDE ALERTS: K. brevis bloom remains a problem for beaches of Sarasota County, Charlotte County and Lee County. (Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

Beryl losing some of its punch as it drives toward islands

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(Image credit: NHC)

Beryl was clinging to hurricane strength Saturday [UPDATE: Downgraded to a tropical storm at 11 a.m. with winds of 50 mph at 5 p.m.) as it moved west-northwest toward the Caribbean, where forecasters said it would be ripped up by strong upper level winds.

A hurricane watch for Dominica and a tropical storm watch remained posted for several of the Leeward Islands, but the National Hurricane Center predicted dissipation by Wednesday when it was forecast to be just south of the Dominican Republic.

Most of the forecast models lose Beryl once it gets into the Caribbean, but the Canadian Model (CMC) has it regenerating a bit in the Bahamas after it makes a northward turn on Wednesday, its remnants scraping eastern Cuba.

The National Weather Service in Miami is not specifically mentioning Beryl, but forecasters note that a trough of low pressure may bring increased chance of showers and thunderstorms toward the end of next week.

Meanwhile, Tropical Depression Three continued to meander off the coast of the Carolinas. Forecasters expected it to become Tropical Storm Chris on Sunday. The National Weather Service in Morehead City, North Carolina was forecasting possible tropical storm conditions for the Outer Banks Sunday night, Monday and Monday night.

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RECORD REPORT: The low in Key West on Friday was 85 degrees, which set a new record for warm minimum temperature for the date. The old record of 84 was set in 2016.

RAINFALL REPORT: Parts of coastal Indian River and St. Lucie counties received more than 2 inches of rain Friday. A little under an inch was reported southwest of Gainesville. In the panhandle, an observer in the Panama City area reported 1.93 inches. (Source: Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network.)

DOWNSLOPE: Saturday is the first day of the summer in which evening sunlight begins to wane. It’s a steady march downward from July 7 to early December in South Florida, when the sun sets at the earliest time of the year. The decline is gradual at first. By July 13, the sun will be setting two minutes earlier than its peak, which occurred at the end of June and early July.

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FL tornadoes

FUNNEL FACTS: July is the second-most active month for tornado activity in Florida, behind June. Tornadoes are least likely in November and December. (Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

Tropics perk up as forecasters track two Atlantic disturbances

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8 PM UPDATE: The National Hurricane Center said the disturbance in the Eastern Atlantic — Invest 95L — was “likely” to become a tropical depression by Friday as it moves west or west-northwest toward the Lesser Antilles. Conditions may become more hostile to the system by the weekend, forecasters said. For the low south of Bermuda, forecasters bumped down chances of development over the next five days to 50 percent, but the two-day chances remained at 40 percent. (Image credits: top: NHC; bottom: SFWMD)

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There’s a bit of irony — maybe Nature has a sense of humor — that two days after a drastic cut to the hurricane season forecast the Atlantic suddenly springs to life with two potential storms.

Colorado State University’s updated forecast issued Monday called for 11 named storms in 2018, and that includes the one already in the books, May’s Subtropical Storm Alberto.

With a follow-up to the forecast on Tuesday, CSU’s Philip Klotzbach tweeted: “Latest Climate Forecast System model runs predict much stronger than normal vertical wind shear during August-October in Caribbean & a bit stronger than normal further east in tropical Atlantic. If this verifies, would likely reduce Atlantic #hurricane activity.”

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center got out their colored markers on Tuesday, marking off potential storms south of Bermuda and in the eastern Atlantic. Development chances were up to 60 percent Wednesday morning for the former, and 30 percent for the latter.

It’s a little early for the start of the Cape Verde hurricane season, in which tropical waves from the coast of Africa become a focus of concern and angst. But there it is, and the NHC was impressed enough to designate the system Invest 95L, which means track runs are now available on such websites as the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

Early-cycle track guidance showed 95L targeting the northwestern Leeward Islands, and the GFS Ensemble group shows an eventual path that takes it anywhere from the Central Caribbean to the Bahamas. The intensity guidance, which is always the weakest part of tropical weather forecasting, shows a spread from no development at all to a low-level Category 1 hurricane.

Both systems may be brief flashes in the pan, however. NHC forecasters say upper level winds will become hostile as 95L approaches the islands this weekend, and the GFS and other forecast models show it fizzling out.

The low south of Bermuda may have a short shelf life as well, since NHC forecasters say it will interact with a frontal system on Sunday.

The Atlantic wind shear analysis from the University of Wisconsin indicates shear as high as 50 knots in the Northwestern Caribbean. But if 95L would get bumped up to the north and miss the islands entirely, it may find friendlier conditions.

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RECORD WATCH: The low in Melbourne Tuesday was 81, a record warm minimum temperature. The previous record was 79 set in 2001. It was the second day in a row that Melbourne notched a record warm low.

RAINFALL FORECAST: An upper-level low was moving into the Florida peninsula Wednesday. It should increase rain and thunderstorm chances Wednesday and Thursday as it slides west into the Gulf of Mexico, the National Weather Service said.

 

Florida Fourth forecast: Low pressure sloshes in from Atlantic

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TROPICS PERK UP: National Hurricane Center forecasters upped chances of development for the system southeast of Bermuda in the Atlantic from 30 percent to 50 percent Tuesday night. At the same time, they began tracking a tropical wave in the eastern Atlantic, giving it a 20 percent chance of development over the next five days. It may encounter more hostile conditions as it nears the islands over the weekend, forecasters said. The next name on the list is Beryl, followed by Chris. (Image credit: NHC)

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Water spouts

NEW TWIST: The National Weather Service in Tampa is reporting an uptick in waterspouts forming just off-shore in the Gulf of Mexico. They’re most apt to form in the mid- to late-morning, according to forecasters, as storms begin to develop along the land breeze off the beach. Waterspouts are also a fairly common occurrence in the Keys. Needless to say: Amscray if you see one heading toward shore. (Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

Will thunder compete with the snap-crackle-pop of fireworks over the holiday on Wednesday?

Rain chances over the Florida peninsula tick up as we head into mid-week, the National Weather Service says, with an upper level low arriving from the Atlantic. Precipitation probabilities stay in the 50 percent range on the East Coast for the afternoon and may be around 30-40 percent at fireworks time on Wednesday, forecasters said.

The West Coast is looking at rain chances of about 60 percent. Forecasts show a little drier weather in the Keys.

“Both of the GFS and the ECMWF show the upper level low slowly drifting across the Florida peninsula at least through Thursday, which will allow for the enhanced moisture and the high rain chances to continue,” forecasters in Miami said in their Tuesday morning forecast discussion.

This low is distinct from the one expected to form southwest of Bermuda by Thursday. That’s the one getting some attention from the National Hurricane Center, where forecasters give it a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or tropical storm as it moves west and then northwest off the U.S. Coast.

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RAINFALL REPORT: Wet spots through 7 a.m. Tuesday include 2.35 inches east of Clearwater in Pinellas County; 2.25 inches on the east side of Naples in Collier County; 1.57 inches just north of Pensacola in Escambia County; and 1.51 inches north of Tampa off I-275. Data via Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network.

RECORD WATCH: The official low in Melbourne on Monday was 79, which broke the record for warmest low for the date. The previous record was 77 set in 1998.