Ophelia becomes 10th hurricane, but there may be light at the end of the tunnel

Hurricane Ophelia

Ophelia became the season’s 10th hurricane Wednesday and had whipped up sustained winds of 85 mph Thursday morning. The National Hurricane Center said it would remain a powerful storm as it moves toward the northeast, but it’s expected to become extra-tropical by late Saturday. It could impact the Azores this weekend and may bring high winds to western Ireland next week. (Credit: NHC/ NWS-Key West)

Is the hurricane season finally winding down?

Hurricane Ophelia was still strengthening in the northeastern Atlantic Thursday, but its days as a tropical entity are numbered, with the National Hurricane Center predicting it will become extra-tropical over the weekend.

Forecast models show little or nothing forming over the next week to 10 days, which would put us close to the end of October.

“Although most of the tropical Atlantic remains unusually warm for mid-October, we may see a drop-off in tropical cyclone activity over the next couple of weeks, as the Madden-Julian Oscillation is predicted to enter a phase unfavorable for tropical development in the Atlantic,” Weather Underground’s Bob Henson said in a blog post Tuesday.

Based on averages from 1966-2009, two more named storms could occur, with one of them being a hurricane. The last storm forms, on average, on November 23, according to the National Hurricane Center’s climatology report.

That would bring us up to Philippe and Rina and give the Atlantic 17 named storms for the year, about five above average. That was the top end of NOAA’s pre-season forecast in May.

However, through Tuesday, the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season had produced 210 ACE (Accumulated Cyclone Energy) units, behind only 1933, 2004 and 1893, Colorado State University hurricane researcher Philip Klotzbach said on Twitter.

“Ophelia is 10th consecutive Atlantic named storm to reach hurricane — tying the all-time record set in 1878 and equaled in 1886 & 1893,” he tweeted.

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RECORD WATCH: The low in West Palm Beach Wednesday was 80, tying a record warm low for the date set in 1972. It was 79 in Melbourne, easily busting the old record warm low of 76 set in 1990.

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Wet weekend weather

RAINFALL FORECAST: Showers and thunderstorms were already moving into the Florida peninsula from the Atlantic early Thursday. NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center shows about 2-and-a-half inches of rain falling on Florida’s East Coast through Tuesday, from around Vero Beach all the way down to the Keys. (Image credit: NWS-Miami)

 

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Tampa ties 76-year-old heat record; heavy rain possible in South Florida

Warm overnight record lows

East-Central Florida has been record warm at night this month. (Credit: NWS-Melbourne)

The calendar said October 10, but Tampa baked under July-type heat Tuesday with a high of 94 degrees. It tied a 76-year-old record high set in 1941.

The heat index topped out at 99, which would have been worse if not for low relative humidity levels in the mid-40-percent range.

More record warm lows were tied or set on Florida’s East-Central Coast on Tuesday. Records were broken in Vero Beach and Melbourne with 79 and 80 degrees, respectively.

Record warm lows were tied in Orlando and Daytona Beach with temperatures of 75 and 76, respectively. The Daytona Beach temperature matched a mark set 83 years ago in 1934.

Bahamas system 101117

Rain was already heading toward the Florida peninsula Wednesday. (Credit: NOAA)

LOCALLY HEAVY RAINFALL is possible Thursday and Friday afternoons in South Florida, the National Weather Service in Miami says. The trigger is an upper level low pressure system that’s about to slide in from the Bahamas.

Later in the weekend, a cold front stalls over Central Florida and at the same time, a tropical wave rolls in from the Atlantic. That should keep rain chances high — at least 60 percent — through Saturday night and 40 percent Sunday.

NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center is predicting about 2.5 inches of rain over southeastern Florida through Monday.

HALLOWEEN FORECASTS can be tricky three weeks out, but the Farmer’s Almanac insists that most people east of the Mississippi are in for a treat with nice weather for the holiday.

The includes Florida and the southeastern U.S. Stormy Halloween weather is expected in the Rocky Mountain States, the South-Central U.S. and California, Oregon and Washington.

Long-range AccuWeather forecast show a little different picture, with quite pleasant Halloween weather in the West.

The forecast for a few selected cities, according to AccuWeather: Boston, clouds, 61 and 43; Orlando, thunderstorms, 78 and 67; Chicago, clouds, 63 and 51; St. Louis, sunny, 69 and 51; Denver, sunny, 64 and 34; Phoenix, sunny, 85 and 61; Los Angeles, sunny, 78 and 58; Seattle, rain, 58 and 46.

New tropical system could slosh into Florida by weekend

Atlantic SAT

Tropical Storm Ophelia formed Monday — in the upper-right portion of Monday’s Atlantic satellite image — and it was forecast to become a hurricane by Thursday. (Credit: NOAA)

A warm and dry week may come to a soggy end on Friday as a tropical wave slides into the peninsula from the Bahamas, the National Weather Service said.

Two forecast models — NOAA’s GFS and the European (ECMWF) — show the system developing a weak closed low pressure system, according to forecasters, but neither have it becoming a tropical depression or storm.

The ever-more aggressive Canadian model (CMC), however, suggested in its early Monday run that it could spin up into a low-end tropical storm, which then intensifies in the Gulf of Mexico and reverses course, coming back at the peninsula north of Tampa or in the Big Bend area early the following week.

For now, NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center is forecasting 2.1 inches of rain to fall from around Jupiter south to Miami through next Monday.

The National Weather Service in Miami has rain chances climbing to 40-50 percent in South Florida starting Friday night and continuing into Sunday.

Until then, the weather word of the week in Florida is heat. The unseasonably warm weather that gripped the peninsula over the weekend is forecast to continue.

According to the NFL, the game time heat index on the field of the Miami Dolphins-Tennessee Titans game at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens was 113 degrees. Not exactly prime football weather, and no picnic for fans sitting in sunny areas of the stadium, either.

The actual high in Miami was 91, which is 4 degrees above normal for the date. The heat index at Miami International Airport was 103 at 3 p.m.

The heat index in Fort Lauderdale hit 108, 100 in West Palm Beach and 101 in Naples.

Temperature records were tied or set Sunday in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Miami set a record warm low with 81; Fort Lauderdale tied a record high with 91 and tied a record warm minimum Sunday with 82; and West Palm Beach tied a record warm low with 81.

Orlando tied a record warm low with 75, and Jacksonville tied a record minimum with 76.

TROPICAL STORM OPHELIA: The National Hurricane Center upgraded the disturbance southwest of the Azores to TD 17 at 5 a.m. Monday and quickly followed with an 11 a.m. upgrade to Tropical Storm Ophelia.

NHC forecasters predicted it would become the season’s 10th hurricane by Thursday with winds of 75 mph.

It was expected to meander around the Northeast Atlantic, but ultimately it should be picked up by a trough and get shuttled east-northeast, not affecting land, according to forecasters.

After Ophelia, the next named system would be Philippe.

Fort Lauderdale heat index hits 109; Century-old heat record falls

Nate

Tropical Storm Nate was making its way through Alabama Sunday and was forecast to bring heavy rain to much of the southeastern U.S. See below for more on Nate and the tropics. (Credit: NOAA)

Most of Florida ended the first week of October in a summer-like steam bath, with heat index readings topping 100 degrees up and down the peninsula.

The heat index in Fort Lauderdale was a blistering 109 degrees on Saturday. It was 106 in Miami and 103 in West Palm Beach. The relative humidity in Miami was 94 percent at 11 p.m., which in combination with a temperature of 83 produced a heat index of 96.

The heat index in Naples topped out at 100 degrees.

In Central Florida, heat index values ranged from 103 in Orlando and Melbourne to 104 in Fort Pierce, and in North-Central Florida it was 103 in Ocala.

On top of that, Saturday morning lows smashed records:

  • Saturday’s low in West Palm Beach, 81, busted a 117-year-old record warm temperature minimum for the date, 80 degrees set in 1900.
  • The low in Miami of 83 broke the record for warmest low for the date — 80 degrees, set just last year. It also tied the record for the warmest low ever recorded in October, set on October 4, 1995.
  • Fort Lauderdale’s low was 83, breaking the record for the date and setting a new record for the all-time warmest low ever recorded in October. Remarkably, that record, 82, was set the previous day — on October 6.
  • Naples tied a record warm low with 80 — set a year ago.
  • Vero Beach tied a record warm low with 78, matching the mark set 62 years ago.
  • Melbourne set a new record warm low with 77.
  • Orlando set a record warm low with 76.

TROPICAL STORM NATE: The storm made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane near the mouth of the Mississippi River at 8 p.m. EDT Saturday with winds of 85 mph.

More than 8,000 homes in the Pensacola area lost power but service was being restored quickly Sunday morning, according to the Pensacola News Journal.

Storm surge entered the lobby of a coastal casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, Bob Henson at Weather Underground reported. But he said inundation levels generally fell short of predictions by the National Hurricane Center.

TROPICS WATCH: Sunday’s run of the GFS featured a developing low moving west across the Atlantic and over Florida’s East Coast next weekend. The European had the system moving across the peninsula as a tropical wave, according to the National Weather Service.

The Canadian (CMC) had a much more robust system making it as far east as Grand Bahama Island before turning north next Sunday.

The NHC was still giving the disturbance southwest of the Azores in the Atlantic a 70 percent chance of development. If both systems would become named storms, the first would be Ophelia and the second would be Philippe.

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.

Caribbean starting to get active; Hurricanes aid Midwest heatwave

Caribbean satellite

Tuesday’s Caribbean satellite image showed plenty of convection firing up. (Credit: NOAA)

Heading into October, the tropical atmosphere seems ready to shift gears with copious amounts of moisture bubbling up in the Caribbean.

National Weather Service forecasters in Key West focused their attention Tuesday on the “rich plume of maritime tropical air covering the entire western Caribbean basin,” and some of the associated convection was already working its way into the Keys and Miami.

NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center was forecasting almost 5 inches of rain near or just south of the Lower Keys through the next seven days, with the southeastern Florida Coast poised to pick up a potential 3-4 inches.

In addition, a weak cold front was forecast to move into the Florida peninsula over the weekend and stall out — keeping showers and thunderstorms in the forecast through the weekend.

Forecast models were also showing an area of low pressure developing between the Florida Coast and the Bahamas as the front deteriorates, according to forecasters at the National Weather Service in Miami.

Rain chances in South Florida shoot up to 70 percent by Friday night and remain in the 50-60 percent range through Monday.

Miami had about a third of an inch of rain Tuesday morning — closer to a half-inch in Fort Lauderdale.

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September2017Warmth

The late season heat in the Upper Midwest has been aided by hurricanes in the Atlantic, according to the National Weather Service. (Credit: NWS-Chicago)

SIZZLING IN SEPTEMBER: The calendar says it’s autumn, but Chicago and other areas of the Midwest have been sweltering amid record highs. Chicago had six days in a row with record highs including a high of 95 on Saturday — the first full day of fall.

“There has never been a heat wave of this duration and magnitude this late in the season in Chicago,” the National Weather Service said in a special report. “Chicago has never recorded 6 consecutive days with high temperatures 92F+ this late in the year.

“The previous latest streak of 4+ days in a row of 92F+ was Sept 16-19, 1955. In fact, the current streak of 6 days in a row with highs of 92F+ is only the 3rd time in the past 50 years that Chicago has seen such a stretch of heat.”

Weather Underground reported: “Heat records dropping faster than leaves in the Midwest and Northeast.”

The temperature reached 95 three days in a row over the weekend in Traverse City, Michigan. It was 95 Friday in Milwaukee with a low on Saturday of 73 — the warmest temperatures ever recorded in autumn with records dating back to 1871.

The heat wave is expected to break on Wednesday with a forecast high in Chicago of 72.

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TROPICS WATCH: A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for coastal North Carolina as Hurricane Maria prepares to swipe the Outer Banks. Impacts were expected later on Tuesday.

Maria was forecast to drop below hurricane strength by Wednesday as it begins a turn toward the east-northeast, the National Hurricane Center said.

‘BIGGEST CATASTROPHE’: Residents in Puerto Rico struggling to recover from the devastating hit by Hurricane Maria worry that they’re an after-thought in Washington, Politico reports. The lack of political muscle is coming home to roost in the U.S. island territory, already suffering from infrastructure problems and massive debt.

The territory’s leaders are pushing for a new aid bill.

Wettest summer ever in Naples; Florida anxiously eyes Irma

Naples had its wettest summer on record, the National Weather Service said Friday. A June-August total of 41.42 inches was measured, easily beating the previous summer record total of 36.61 inches recorded 70 years ago in 1947.

Labor Day Hurricane anniversary

ANNIVERSARY: The 1935 Labor Day plowed into the Florida Keys 82 years ago with sustained winds of 185 mph. The center made landfall near Long Key. It was the most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S. since record keeping began in 1851. (Credit: NWS-Key West

IRMA WATCH: NOAA’s GFS and the European forecast model (ECMWF) have been coming into closer agreement on a longer-term path for Hurricane Irma. But one thing they agree on already: This is going to be a doozy.

Saturday’s run of the European showed a 921-mb hurricane passing over or near Grand Bahama on Sunday, September 10; The GFS had a 925-mb storm about 400 miles to the east of Grand Bahama next Friday. For comparison purposes, Hurricane Harvey had a minimum central pressure of 938 mb when it slammed into Texas as a Category 4 with 130 mph winds.

The Canadian (CMC) basically split the difference between the two, with a 971-mb storm over or near Great Abaco (to the east of Grand Bahama). The Navy model (NAVGEM) had Irma about 700 miles east of Palm Beach in the Friday-Saturday time frame with a central pressure of 944 mb.

As far as the ensembles for the major models, three of the 20 GFS Ensembles showed a Florida East Coast hit (15 percent); nine of 50 ECMWF Ensembles showed a Florida hit or coastal scrape (18 percent); and seven of 20 CMC Ensembles showed a Florida hit or coastal scrape (35 percent).

TS wind probabilities

LATE SATURDAY UPDATE: Probabilities of tropical storm force winds began creeping into the Central Bahamas. (Credit: NHC)

Many other ensemble members suggest an Irma landfall somewhere along the U.S. East Coast — some as far north as New York and New England.

Forecast models are refreshed every six to 12 hours, so this is just a snapshot of one Saturday analysis.

The difference in the models – particularly the ECMWF and the GFS — is based on differing analyses of the trough forecast to plow into the Southeast by mid-week, according to the National Weather Service.

Forecasters at the NWS in Melbourne explained in their Saturday discussion:

“The forecast for late week, and especially into next weekend hinges largely upon the speed at which the … trough lifts out to the N-NE. The 00Z operational runs of the ECM/CMC show this taking place faster than the GFS. This allows the post frontal surface high to link up with the Atlantic ridge more quickly, which in turn brings major Hurricane Irma uncomfortably close to Florida by next Saturday.”

“It remains much too early to have any sort of handle on whether the system will directly impact Florida, or, for that matter, any spot along the east coast of the U.S., and will remain the case well into next week.”

REGARDLESS OF IRMA: A wetter week is in store for the Florida peninsula as showers and storms move in from the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend, and the front approaches North Florida by mid-week.

RECORD WATCH: Daytona Beach hit 95 degrees Friday, breaking the previous record high of 94 set in 2000. Vero Beach tied a record high with 94.