NICE WEATHER, BUT … there’s a high risk of rip currents at the beach, hazardous marine conditions due to gusty winds, and an elevated fire risk due to the winds and low humidity. (Image credit: NWS-Miami)
Ahhh … another crisp, cool weekend!
Temperatures this morning slid into the mid-50s in the West Palm Beach area, nearly a 40-degree plunge from Thursday’s high in West Palm of 94. The official low was 56.
It was 64 in Key West; the low 60s in Upper Keys; upper 50s on Florida’s southeast coast; and lower 50s on the southwest coast.
Lows were in the upper 40s to near 50 in Central Florida; and the low- to mid-40s in North Florida. The panhandle was mostly in the 40s with a few scattered 30s.
A warm-up begins on Sunday, but near-normal temperatures are in the forecast for next week. This time of the year, that’s 80 in Miami; 77 in Orlando and 76 in Tampa.
SOUTH FLORIDA WINTER WRAP: It was the ninth consecutive winter in South Florida with above normal temperatures, the National Weather Service in Miami reported. Average winter temps were 3-5 degrees above average across the area.
Naples had its second-warmest winter on record; West Palm Beach had its third-warmest; Miami had its fourth-warmest and Fort Lauderdale had its 12th warmest.
“The general weather pattern this winter was for higher than normal pressures aloft over much of the Continental United States,” forecasters said in the report. “This is likely a reflection of fewer and less intense cold air outbreaks originating from Arctic air masses, and as result most of the cold air outbreaks in Florida this winter were rather mild and of short duration.”
The most potent cold snap of the meteorological winter (December 1-February 29) occurred January 20-22. The coldest official temperature in the South Florida coverage area was 33 degrees in Moore Haven, on the west side of Lake Okeechobee. Unofficially, it got down to 30 degrees in some parts of southwest Florida for up to two hours, resulting in a light freeze.
“In contrast, the temperature reached or exceeded 80 on anywhere from about 40 to 60 days this winter. Naples on February 18th reached 90, the earliest 90-degree day on record.”
Most of South Florida had above normal precipitation as well. But totals varied widely. “The highest measured rainfall total was 22.55 inches in Juno Beach, and the lowest was 5.17 inches south of South Bay,” forecasters said.
DROUGHT WATCH: More of West-Central Florida has been designated as “Abnormally Dry” by the U.S. Drought Monitor. All of Pasco County and almost all of Polk county are in the dry category, the precursor to full-blown drought.
Most of North Florida, from the Big Bend area east to Jacksonville, is dry. The Tallahassee area is in Moderate Drought and the Gulf Coast county of Waukulla is in Severe Drought.
Below normal precipitation is in the forecast in Florida through at least March 20, according to the Climate Prediction Center, so look for expanding areas of drought and pre-drought over the next week or two.