Second-warmest winter on record for Naples, Weather Service says

SFL hazards Saturday

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.

Summer-style heat for Florida peninsula: West Palm hits 94

Tallahassee rainfall

The Florida panhandle and points north have had a soggy week, with more than an inch of rain falling Tallahassee. The National Weather Service in Jacksonville said 1.21 inches of rain fell on the city Thursday. The rest of the peninsula has been fairly dry. (Image credit: NWS-Tallahassee)

If you’re new to Florida and wondering what the summer weather will be like, Thursday was a preview of coming attractions — with one big caveat.

Official temperatures exceeded 90 degrees at several of the National Weather Service’s major observations sites; for some cities it was the first 90-degree high of 2020.

Miami hit 91, a record high that beat the previous mark for March 5 of 90, set in 1964.

West Palm Beach smashed its record high with 94, beating the old mark of 91 also set in 1964. And it was 88 in Naples, beating the old record of 87 set in 1989.

The high in West Palm was the hottest of any major reporting site in Florida, but there were a couple of unofficial 96-degree readings in interior parts of South Florida.

However, if you’re comparing it to Florida’s summer weather, note that dew points are still relatively low. As West Palm topped out at 94, the dew point was in the mid-60s; in summer the dew point is usually in the mid-70s, making the day feel even more sticky and tropical.

Record highs were also set or tied Thursday in Vero Beach (91); Fort Pierce (90); Daytona Beach (89); Melbourne (90);

Record warm minimum temperatures were tied or set in Key West and Marathon (both with 77); Orlando (69); Sanford (70); and Leesburg (69).

A cold moving through South Florida this morning will knock temperatures back into the 60s and 70s for the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.


GLOBAL RECORD WATCH: Many Florida cities had a top-10 warmest winter. New data released Thursday show that it was the warmest winter on record in Europe — by a lot.

Average temperatures for the December through February period were 1.4 degrees Celsius warmer than the previous record warm winter of 2015-2016, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service.  January was the warmest on record in Europe and the world.

It was the second warmest February, both globally and for Europe, and the warmest January.

First 90-degree day of the year in Orlando, Vero Beach

ECFL temps

More record highs are possible today before a cold front rolls down the peninsula on Friday. (Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

Orlando had its first 90-degree day of the year on Wednesday with a record high of 90. It was the first since October 31, when the temperature topped out at 91. Orlando’s previous record for March 4 was 88, last set in 1989.

It was also 90 in Vero Beach, which hasn’t seen a 90-degree temperature since October 27 (91). The previous record for March 4 was 89 set in 2001.

Record highs were also set Wednesday at Naples (88); Leesburg (88); and Jacksonville (88).

With southwesterly winds ahead of the next cold front (due tonight and Friday), look for more East Coast cities to notch record high temperatures. For a change, it will be slightly cooler on the West Coast with winds off the Gulf.


(Image credit: NOAA/ SPC)

Some severe weather is possible with the arrival of the cold front in North Florida, but the front is expected to lose much of its punch by the time it gets into Central and South Florida on Friday.

Nevertheless, Florida will see one more cool day on Saturday before winds swing around to the east again and the next warm-up begins. But rather than the record levels we are seeing this week, temps are forecast to be near normal over the Florida peninsula.

Winter Keys

MORE WINTER DATA FROM THE KEYS: Key West had its ninth warmest winter on record while Marathon had its seventh-warmest. Records date back to 1872 in Keys West, so the record is fairly impressive. (Image credit: NWS-Key West)


Severe storms possible late this week in panhandle, North Florida


NEXT COLD FRONT AND STORM SYSTEM: Another cold front will pack a punch on Thursday and Friday as it rolls down the peninsula, the National Weather Service says, but the potential for severe weather stays mostly to the north. An area from the Nature Coast on the Gulf of Mexico northeast to around St. Augustine is under a Level 2, or “Slight Risk” for severe thunderstorms, and possibly a tornado. The threatened area extends west into the central panhandle. In South Florida, “widespread meaningful rain amounts are not anticipated,” NWS forecasters in Miami said. Here’s a close-up of the main warning area (credit: NWS-Jacksonville):

Severe storms NFL

Post cold front highs on Saturday: Miami, 70; Orlando, 65; Tampa, 68; Gainesville, 62; and Jacksonville, 60. A warm-up begins on Sunday and continues into early next week.

Warm winter days

WINTER WARMTH: More information is coming in about the meteorological winter. In South Florida, the number of 80-degree days during the 2019-2020 winter months was well above normal, but not quite as high — in Miami and Fort Lauderdale — as the winter of 2016-2017. Exceptions were at Naples and West Palm Beach, where the number of 80-degree days surpassed the last four winters.


ATTENTION COLLEGE STUDENTS: If you’re headed into the weather forecasting biz, here’s your chance. The National Weather Service in Jacksonville is looking for students to work with staff forecasters this summer. Students selected will volunteer at least 20 hours a week. The Weather Service is looking for students in meteorology or a related field with a grade point average of at least 2.0. Click here for information on how to apply.

Top-five warmest winter for West-Central Florida cities; new March forecast issued

March forecast

Above normal temperatures are in the March forecast for the eastern and central U.S., including Florida. The state is expected to have a much drier than usual March, according to this forecast released by the Climate Prediction Center on Saturday. (Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

Say goodbye to meteorological winter and hello to meteorological spring. Enjoy one final week of living on standard time; next Sunday it will stay light until around 7:30.

Astronomical spring begins on Thursday, March 19 (two weeks from this coming Thursday) at 11:49 p.m. EDT.

It was an above-normal winter (December 1-February 29) around the state; expect details to trickle in on specific areas over the next week or so.

For now, we can say that Miami ended the winter around 3 degrees above average and it was even warmer elsewhere. Key West was closer to 4 degrees above average. Orlando will come in close to 5 degrees above average for the three-month period. Tampa was plus-4.4 degrees.

For February, Miami was plus-2.9 degrees with an average high of 80 and an average low of 66. Plus-0.65 of an inch on rainfall; Orlando, plus-4.9 degrees, average high of 79, average low of 57, minus-0.81 of an inch precip; Tampa, plus-3.3 degrees, average high 76, average low 58, minus-0.98 of an inch precip.

The National Weather Service in Tampa issued a preliminary winter 2019-2020 report showing that Tampa’s winter tied for the fifth warmest on record with an average temperature (daily highs and lows averaged) of 66.8 degrees, which puts it behind 1931-32 (70.3); 2016-17 and 1948-49 (68.4); and 1949-50 (67.0).

Most observation sites in West-Central Florida had a top five-warmest winter, but Plant City had its second-warmest winter on record behind 1948-49.

The caveat for the West Coast report is that February temperatures were only calculated through February 23.

“As for rainfall we have seen varying amounts this February and Winter with parts of the Nature Coast below normal while southwest Florida has been above normal,” forecasters said in the Tampa-area report.

March begins with an early- to mid-week warm-up, with another cold front scheduled to roll through at the end of the week, bringing yet another shot of cooler air. Strong storms are forecast for North Florida as the front goes through on Thursday.

Thursday storms

North Florida and parts of the panhandle are expected to be under a Level 2 (Slight Risk) of severe storms late in the week as another cold front approaches the state. (Image credit: NWS-Tallahassee)

Warmest fall on record in Miami, Naples

FL fall temps

(Image credit: NOAA/ NWS-Miami)

Temperatures in the second half of November cooled down dramatically in South Florida and elsewhere in the state, but it was the nevertheless the warmest fall on record in Miami and Naples, the National Weather Service in Miami said in a report Thursday.

It was the third-warmest meteorological autumn — which runs from September 1 to November 30 — in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

Miami also had the second-driest autumn on record, with 8.08 inches measured at Miami International Airport. That’s 11.38 inches below normal for September through November.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport checked in with 10.57 inches of rain, a short fall of 8.08 inches. That made it the 11th driest fall since record keeping began in Fort Lauderdale in 1911.


DROUGHT MOVES INTO SOUTH FLORIDA: Parts of four South Florida counties are struggling with Moderate Drought, the U.S. Drought Monitor said Thursday. Most of South Florida remains Abnormally Dry, with the exception of eastern Broward and eastern Palm Beach counties.

Up the East Coast, most of Martin and almost all of St. Lucie counties have been designated as Abnormally Dry.

Areas newly designated with Moderate Drought include northwest Miami-Dade, western Broward, northeast Mainland Monroe and southeastern Collier. A tiny slice of southwestern Palm Beach County is also under Moderate Drought.

Most of Central Florida remains Abnormally Dry and most of the panhandle is under a Moderate Drought designation.


COLD OPEN: South Florida has had four days in a row with below normal temperatures and the first week of December is running up to 7 degrees below average (Fort Lauderdale). Ditto for Central Florida, where Orlando is almost 5 degrees below average for the new month. Tampa is 3.5 degrees below average so far in December.

On Friday morning, it was in the 60s in the Keys, the upper 50s on both South Florida coasts, and the upper 40s northwest of Lake Okeechobee to near 50 in the Orlando area.

North Florida was in the 30s, but there were no freezing temperatures on the Weather Underground map and in fact it was actually warmer in the western panhandle with temps in the upper 40s — a sign of the warmer air to come this weekend, perhaps.

A real warming trend begins Saturday when winds begin drawing warmer and more humid air off the Atlantic. A cold front entering North Florida this weekend won’t make into South or Central Florida, the National Weather Service says. Another front by mid-week probably will make it down the peninsula, bringing a few showers, but northeasterly winds should keep temperatures closer to normal for the end of next week, according to forecasters.

November wrap: More rainfall deficits; closer to normal temps

EXTRA BLANKET REQUIRED: More news about Monday’s cold front: Forecast models keep adjusting low temperatures down across the Florida peninsula, and further changes could be coming.

As it stands on Sunday, Tuesday morning lows in Glades County could reach 40 degrees, and forecasters at the National Weather Service in Miami said: “Keep in mind that adjustments to these readings are still possible as we fine tune the forecast going forward. Those with agricultural interests, particularly across the northern inland portions of South Florida and the Lake Okeechobee region, will want to keep up with this forecast.”

As of Sunday, there were no cold weather watches or warnings in Florida but that could change on Monday.


Dec forecast

(Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

NOVEMBER WRAP: Monthly temperatures in North Florida were below normal, and Tallahassee once again led the state in rainfall deficits, after the driest October on record.

Areas of Central Florida and South Florida had close to normal temperatures, with the exception of Fort Lauderdale (which ended the month 1.3 degrees below average with a 2.69 precipitation surplus) and Naples (1.7 degrees above normal and a slight rainfall shortage of 0.34 of an inch).

In West-Central Florida, Tampa had dead-normal temperatures in November, with an average high of 78 and an average low of 60. Precipitation was an inch below average. But Sarasota was 2.3 degrees above average, with a precipitation shortfall of 1.40 inches. And Fort Myers was a half-degree above average and had a 0.71 rainfall deficit.

CLOSER LOOK: Miami, 1 degree above average; – 1.65 inches precip; and West Palm Beach, half of a degree above normal; – 1.54 inches precip.

Keys: Key West, + 2.5 degrees, – 1.26 inches; Marathon, +1.9 degrees, – 2.52 inches.

East-Central: Daytona Beach, – 0.9 degrees, – 0.94 of an inch; Orlando, + 0.5 of a degree, – 1.01 inches; Melbourne, + 0.1 of a degree; – 1.38 inches; Vero Beach, + 0.2, -1.43;

North Florida: Jacksonville, – 1.9 degrees; +1.58 inches; Gainesville, – 2.1 degrees, – 0.23 of an inch; Tallahassee, – 1.8 degrees; – 2.63 inches.

NOTE: Saturday was the end of November and the end of meteorological fall. Astronomical winter begins Saturday, December 21 at 11:19 p.m. But for record keeping purposes, winter is divided neatly into a three-month period from December 1 to February 29 (yes there’s an extra day of winter this year thanks to leap year.)

Autumn 2019 (September 1 – November 30) will likely go into the record books as having above normal temperatures around Florida with significant rainfall deficits.

DECEMBER OUTLOOK: Despite the cold start to the new month, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for above normal temperatures — not just in Florida but across the entire U.S., with the exception of Nevada and parts of the Desert Southwest. Rainfall in Florida is forecast to be below normal this month.

The new NOAA forecast was released Saturday.