Florida’s wet weather moves out, balmy summer beach days ahead

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June’s wet weather may finally be on the wane. (Credit: NOAA/ CPC)

Look for a changing of the weather guard over South Florida, with the torrential rains of the past few weeks fading in favor of a more typical July — read drier — pattern.

That’s not to say that the Florida peninsula will return to the dry seasonal precipitation pace that held sway in spring. But the National Weather Service has begun ratcheting down rain chances, especially for East Coast metro areas, into the 20 percent range instead of the 70-80 percent we’ve been seeing.

With Potential Tropical Cyclone Three — a sloppy mess in the Gulf of Mexico that could be named a subtropical storm later on Tuesday — aiming for Louisiana or Texas, and Tropical Storm Bret on a date with dissipation in the Caribbean, the Florida peninsula should be increasingly under the influence of high pressure in the Atlantic.

Forecasters say a stalled cold front over North-Central Florida early next week may deliver another period of showers and storms over South and Central Florida, but all-in-all, better beach weather beckons.

Monthly rainfall totals are in double digits everywhere in South Florida, and respectable totals in East-Central Florida are signficantly above average. West-Central Florida has also had a soggy few weeks, with rainfall totals approaching 10 inches in Tampa, while St. Petersburg-Clearwater is reporting  a fat 14.33 inches for June through Monday.

The Keys are running around 3 inches on the plus side.

But NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center took out its beige marker for the last week in June for South Florida, its graphical forecast map indicating below normal precipitation to round out the month. Central and North-Central Florida may see close to average precipitation.

July is expected to kick off with normal rainfall levels throughout the state.

After a rain-cooled June that brought many Florida locations normal, or slightly below normal, temperatures, above-average heat is likely to fire up again through at least the first week of July, the CPC says.

TROPICS TALK: Looking beyond PTC Three and Tropical Storm Bret, waves continue to roll of the coast of Africa, and the GFS grabs on to one of them for potential development around July 5. But the GFS is infamous for jumping the long-range gun.

The European model (ECMWF) shows clear sailing  over the next 10 days and even the hyperactive Canadian model (CMC) is subdued, save for the suggestion of a Mid-Atlantic system as the month ends.

RECORD WATCH: The low in Melbourne on Monday was 78 degrees, which set a record for the warmest minimum temperature for the date, beating the old mark of 77 set in 2012.

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UPDATE: The National Hurricane Center finally upgraded Potential Tropical Cyclone Three to Tropical Storm Cindy at 2 p.m. EDT. The storm was bound for a landfall early Thursday morning around the Louisiana/ Texas border, forecasters said. Winds were clocked at 45 mph in the Central Gulf of Mexico and Cindy was stationary. In the Caribbean, Tropical Storm Bret was downgraded to a tropical wave as it sped west at 23 mph. (Image credit: NHC)

Tropical system moves into Gulf; Saharan air likely for South Florida

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The poorly defined center of Invest 93L was near the northeastern tip of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on Monday morning. (Credit: NOAA)

The week begins with an alphabet soup of tropical weather in the Atlantic, and forecasters glued to incoming data to see how it all unfolds. There’s PTC Two or 92L east of the Windward Islands — and then there’s 93L, which could become TD Three … or could it become PTC Three?

And which ones will become Bret or Cindy? None of the above?

National Hurricane Center forecasters predict Potential Tropical Cyclone Two will become Tropical Depression Two, or perhaps Tropical Storm Bret, by late Monday. But after moving through the islands the storm is forecast to throttle down — and eventually dissipate — in the Central Caribbean.

Even if it would survive in some form, forecast models are nearly unanimous in bringing the system or its remnants into Central America. It should have no impact on Florida weather.

The system off the Yucatan, 93L, has been pushing a few bands of showers and storms across South Florida since Sunday. The NHC gives it an 80-90 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or tropical storm over the next two to five days.

The GFS has 93L making landfall in southeastern Louisiana on Thursday morning. The European continues to take the system into northern Mexico or South Texas on Thursday; the Canadian model (CMC) and Navy model (NAVGEM) take it into the northern Gulf Coast near the Texas/ Louisiana border on Thursday night.

Of the hurricane models, the HWRF takes a bit stronger 93L into Louisiana late Wednesday night.

Based on these forecasts, NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center is forecasting just under 10 inches of rain this week in coastal Louisiana, with up to 5 inches of rain in the western Florida panhandle.

Although the northwestern Florida peninsula may get as much as 2 inches of rain through the week and into the weekend, South Florida should see much lighter amounts, especially on the East Coast.

“The forecast will continue to depict a typical summertime weather pattern with increasing high pressure over the western Atlantic bringing easterly-southeasterly flow across the state,” the National Weather Service in Miami said in Monday’s forecast discussion. “Also, by Wednesday night and into Thursday, there are increasing chances of an intrusion of Saharan dust and drier air into the region.”

Palm Beach International Airport picked up a third of an inch of rain Sunday, pushing June totals over the 10-inch mark for the first time since January 2014. Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Naples have had almost a foot of rain as of Sunday (11.81, 11.49 and 11.95 respecitvely).

One positive effect of all the rain is that June temperatures have been running about 1-2 degrees below normal in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. The average high in West Palm Beach has been 86 with an average low of 74. Although that sounds comfortable, dew points have been very high.

June temperatures in Miami and Naples have been slightly above average, however.

Temperatures in the Keys have been right around the normal mark.

Hurricane Center issues first advisory for ‘potential’ tropical cyclone

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The first ‘potential’ tropical cyclone was being monitored by the NHC Sunday. (Credit: NHC)

The National Hurricane Center began issuing advisories for a tropical system that hasn’t even formed yet — a first for the agency that introduced a new category to the NHC forecasting arsenal.

“The National Hurricane Center now has the option to issue advisories on disturbances that are not yet tropical cyclones, but which pose the threat of bringing tropical storm or hurricane conditions to land areas within 48 hours,” the 5 p.m. EDT advisory said.

“Under previous policy this was not possible. These systems are known as Potential Tropical Cyclones in advisory products and are numbered from the same list as depressions.”

The NHC said the system would peak as a 50 mph tropical storm by early Tuesday morning before losing punch in the eastern Caribbean.

“Quick weakening is expected after that time as southerly shear increases dramatically while the system moves into the eastern Caribbean Sea,” forecaster Michael Brennan said. “The system is forecast to become a remnant low by 72 hours and dissipate by day 4.”

The advisory was published under the heading, “Potential Tropical Cyclone Two Advisory Number 1.”

The government of Barbados issued a tropical storm warning for Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the NHC said.

The NHC was still giving the system a 70 percent chance of reaching full tropical depression status in 48 hours. If it does become a tropical storm, it would be named Bret.

Tropical storm conditions were expected in the affected islands Monday night and Tuesday morning, with 2-4 inches of rain expected.

The agency gave the low pressure system off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula — Invest 93L — a 70 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm by Tuesday and a 90 percent chance by the end of the week.

An investigation of 93L by Hurricane Hunter aircraft was canceled on Sunday and rescheduled for Monday. Forecast models were focusing on an eventual landfall from the Florida panhandle to southeastern Louisiana.

Depression or tropical storm may be brewing in Caribbean, Hurricane Center says

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Invest 93L in the Caribbean looked robust Sunday afternoon. (Credit: NOAA)

Convection with Invest 93L, the low pressure area that was struggling all weekend off the coast of Central America in the Caribbean, appeared to crank into high gear Sunday morning and the National Hurricane Center upped its chances of development to 90 percent.

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Forecast tracks for 93L. (Credit: SFWMD)

New forecast models showed more of a northern movement with a few of them aiming for the Florida panhandle.

Intensity forecast models keep the system relatively weak, with borderline tropical storm strength at best.

Still, the storm could be a big rainmaker for the northern Gulf Coast, with more than 4 inches forecast next week for southern Louisiana and 3.4 inches for Florida’s Big Bend area. The rest of Florida’s West Coast would receive a little over an inch in the south to more than 2 inches north of Tampa — but these numbers from NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center will be undoubtedly refined as the system moves into the Gulf of Mexico.

The NHC may send a Hurricane Hunter aircraft into the system later on Sunday to see if a closed low has already formed. If it has, it could be the season’s second tropical depression or Tropical Storm Bret.

To the east of the southern Windward Islands, Invest 92L continued to chug west at 20 mph, a bit fast for tropical development. Forecasters said the chances of development were 50-50, and had a Hurricane Hunter standing by for Monday to check it out if necessary.

Forecast models are very consistent in bringing 92L into the western Caribbean by the end of the week, although its biggest challenge will be to survive the eastern Caribbean, which often has hostile conditions.

Rain chances are high in South Florida for the beginning of the week — up to 70 percent — before tapering off to 20 percent by Friday.

“The forecast for South Florida could be adjusted to reflect even higher POPS for the first half of the week if this feature moves closer to the state,” National Weather Service forecasters in Miami said in their Sunday analysis.

National Weather Service forecast offices in Florida are still talking about an influx of drier air to end the week.

 

Hurricane Center goes code red on two Atlantic systems

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UPDATE: Early forecast models for the Caribbean low pressure system, which was designated Invest 93L by the National Hurricane Center Saturday afternoon. (Credit: NHC)

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Forecast development areas for Invests 92L (right) and 93L. (Credit: NHC)

National Hurricane Center forecasters got out their red markers on Saturday to announce a high chance of tropical development for each of the two areas of disturbed weather in the Atlantic.

Model wars continued between the European (ECMWF) and NOAA’s GFS, the latter of which has changed its forecast track for the low in the western Caribbean from Texas/ Mexico to the Florida panhandle. This is echoed by the Canadian (CMC) — the Rodney Dangerfield of tropical forecast models, which doesn’t seem to get much respect among weather professionals and amateurs alike.

But it’s interesting that the CMC has been the most consistent with the Caribbean low in keeping it in the Eastern/ Central Gulf of Mexico and spinning it into the northern Gulf Coast.

On the other hand, the gold-standard ECMWF still projects that the Caribbean low will slide across the Yucatan Peninsula, into the southwest Gulf and eventually make its way into Mexico or Texas.

The question is whether the ECMWF will begin trending east to catch up with the rest of the pack or if the others will see the errors of their ways and join the European in supporting the system’s western march.

On Saturday morning, you could be forgiven for thinking that it was much ado about nothing, since the showers and storms in the western Caribbean seemed to lack any organization at all. In fact, the heaviest rainfall was occurring south of eastern Cuba and near Jamaica, with very little activity near the coast of Central America.

Nevertheless, NHC forecasters give this area a 70 percent chance of becoming a depression or tropical storm by around mid-week. In their Saturday morning Tropical Weather Outlook, they did expand their red cone of development area a bit to the northeast, probably in deference to the GFS.

As for Invest 92L in the Central Atlantic, this system also earned an upgrade to a high chance of development — 70 percent — although some of the tropical waves behind it looked more robust.  (Development chances were downgraded to 60 percent Saturday afternoon). Most forecast models show 92L eventually rolling across the Caribbean and approaching the Yucatan, although a couple of outliers take it over Cuba or Hispaniola.

At this point, nothing suggests a threat to Florida from 92L.

If the western Caribbean low can manage to get its act together sufficiently this weekend, it will be tagged Invest 93L and then we’ll get the benefit of some of the more specific hurricane models, such as the HWRF.

The National Weather Service in Key West sums it up: “Still a tale of two camps between the 00Z ECMWF & GFS, which present different impacts given the associated track of low pressure yet to develop. In the case of the ECMWF, the model subsequent model runs continue to develop low pressure near the Yucatan and then move it more northwestward across the Yucatan Peninsula into either the Southwestern or South-central Gulf of Mexico.

“In this case, the best confluent bands of heavy showers and scattered thunderstorms could only graze the Lower Keys with heavy rainfall, with most of the heavy rainfall moving by to our west. In the case of the GFS solutions, the lower pressure that eventually develops, does move more north northwestward towards the Yucatan Channel and into the Southern Gulf. This scenario allows deep moisture and good confluence bands to move across Central and Western Cuba and to across all of the Keys. So we would include potential for locally heavy rainfall.”

Eastern Atlantic waves

Is this June — or August? Strong tropical waves keep emerging off the coast of Africa, more typical of late summer. (Credit: NOAA)

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LONG-RANGE: Will the Florida peninsula start to dry out over the next week or so? That’s still the picture painted by National Weather Service forecasters in Miami, who say a strengthening Bermuda high and an intrusion of Saharan air will hit the shut-off valve on nature’s rainfall faucet — at least for the East Coast — by late next week.

In the meantime, rain chances remain in the 50-70 percent range through mid-week, before falling to around 30 percent by Friday night.

The last week of the month may kick off a pattern change to drier July weather — if there are no tropical surprises.

Friday’s storms brought up to 2 inches of rain along parts of the East Coast from Broward County all the way up to Volusia County. The Tampa area received about an inch, according to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network.

 

Forecasters in Florida see possible shift to drier pattern

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UPDATE: The tropical wave in the Central Atlantic was designated Invest 92L by the National Hurricane Center. It was plotted at 5N 33.3W, about a thousand miles southwest of the Cape Verde Islands and 3,400 miles east-southeast of Miami. Early forecast models showed the system just clearing the northern coast of South America and moving northwest in the Caribbean. The eastern Caribbean is often a graveyard for Cape Verde storms, but early intensity models show 92L achieving and maintaining tropical storm strength through five days. (Image credit: SFWMD)

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Two areas of disturbed weather were upgraded Friday by the National Hurricane Center. (Credit: NHC)

Weather warning: A pattern shift may be dead ahead.

Forecasts for next week’s tropical weather are trending far enough west that Florida may be out of the picture for any significant rainfall. In fact, as we head toward July a typically drier pattern may be setting up, the National Weather Service says.

Normal July rainfall drops off in a major way from average June precipitation, falling from 8.3 inches to 5.76 inches in West Palm Beach and from 9.67 inches to 6.5 inches in Miami.

So climatology suggests that we may be moving toward a drier summer period.

Last year, July was uncommonly dry, with Palm Beach International Airport recording just 1.59 inches of rain and Miami, 4.11 inches.

That was particularly bad news since July 2016 was the hottest on record.

The Climate Prediction Center is noncommittal for July rainfall, predicting above-normal precipitation for the northern Gulf Coast while shrugging off most of the rest of the country. There’s a big question mark over the Florida peninsula, and rainfall totals will probably depend in part on how active the tropics will be next month.

As for the two systems on the National Hurricane Center map currently, both earned upgrades overnight. The Low that is progged to form over the Yucatan was given a 60 percent chance of tropical development by early next week, and the Atlantic wave that rolled off the coast of Africa on Monday was upgraded to 40 percent over five days.

The next two names on the Atlantic list are Bret and Cindy. And although the Central Atlantic wave appears to be getting better organized, the NHC track suggests it might crash-land into South America before it has a chance to cause any mischief in the Caribbean.

It is slightly disturbing, for non-meterological reasons, that the names for the 2017 hurricane season are recycled from 2005, although there were a number of retired names that year so instead of Katrina, there’s Katia; and instead of Rita there’s Rina; and instead of Wilma there’s Whitney.

These names were used in 2011 as well, and that season was no slouch with 19 named storms, seven hurricanes and four majors.

July was quite active that year with three tropical storms, and then things got crazy in August with seven named storms forming in the Atlantic, including Category 3 Hurricane Irene.

Fortunately, names are just names and have nothing to do with environmental conditions over any given year.

We hope.

Chances of tropical system in Gulf are increasing, Hurricane Center says

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National Hurricane Center forecasters got out their orange marker for the Yucatan Peninsula on Thursday, showing increased odds for tropical development. (Credit: NHC)

A tropical storm or depression is looking more likely in the Gulf of Mexico next week after the National Hurricane Center bumped up chances for development.

Forecasters said there’s a 50 percent chance that a low expected to spin up near the Yucatan Peninsula will become a tropical depression, or Tropical Storm Bret, by Tuesday.

NOAA’s GFS and the European model (ECMWF) are in agreement with development, and eventually take the system into Mexico, while the Canadian (CMC) and the Navy model (NAVGEM) push a deeper low up through the Central Gulf of Mexico toward the western Florida panhandle.

But since the GFS and ECMWF are the gold standards in weather forecasting, local National Weather Service are basing their longer-term forecasts on the western scenario, which will likely mean less rain for Florida’s East Coast next week.

The eastern Atlantic tropical wave, meanwhile, still has a 20 percent chance of developing by Tuesday, the NHC said. But it’s interesting to note that several other potent waves are emerging off the coast of Africa behind the one posted on the NHC forecast map — very early, indeed, for such a parade to begin.

However, wind shear analyses by the University of Wisconsin continue to show hostile conditions in the Central Atlantic, with shear ranging from 25-50 knots. Ditto for the western Caribbean, although conditions become a bit more marginal in the Gulf of Mexico, and shear is forecast to drop in the southwestern Gulf on Friday.

It’s also interesting to note that neither area of projected development has been designated an invest yet by the NHC, which means the full range of model maps is not yet available. For the western Caribbean, that could change later on Thursday or Friday, since storms seem to be boiling up with more frequency off the coast of Central America.

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OUT WITH DROUGHT: Florida’s wet June has really done a number on drought conditions that had built up over the dry spring. Thursday’s report by the U.S. Drought Monitor showed drought-free conditions in all of South Florida with Moderate Drought still in place in Central Florida from Tampa to Brevard County on the East Coast.

That could be wiped away next week if any of the tropical moisture from the Gulf makes its way into the Tampa area.

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SNEAK PEEK AT EARLY FALL: NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center released its 90-day forecasts Thursday, indicating above-normal temperatures across almost all of the U.S. through September. Forecasters hedged their bets on precipitation forecasts, indicating equal chances for above- or below-normal rainfall across most of the country with the exception of the northwestern Gulf coast, where abnormally high precipitation is forecast.

Normal rainfall is expected in South Florida through the end of June.