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


(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.


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.


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.



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.


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)

NOAA hikes El Niño chances again; major impacts possible for Florida

Weather prepared

WEATHER GRAPHIC OF THE DAY: Forecasters at the National Weather Service in Key West ask: “Why are victims in horror movies not prepared? Don’t be a victim of hazardous weather. Be prepared.” Their Facebook page has a link to a NOAA website on National Weather Safety Tips, from air quality to heat, fog and rip currents. No major weather hazards on the radar today; keep your fingers crossed. By the way, this is the last Friday the 13th until September 2019. (Image credit: NWS-Key West)

FLORIDA WINTER WEATHER ALERT: Looks like it’s going to be one of those winters in Florida again — chances of El Niño developing for the 2018-2019 winter jumped to 70 percent in the new NOAA analysis issued Thursday. Chances of it occurring in autumn are at 65 percent, which should have a significant impact on the end of the Atlantic hurricane season.

In June, NOAA issued an El Niño Watch and put El Niño chances for the fall at 50 percent and 65 percent for the winter.

El Niño, unusually warm waters in the tropical Pacific, keeps wind shear cranking in the Atlantic, which puts a lid on tropical storm development. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that El Niño tends to bring very stormy winter weather to the Florida peninsula, including an uptick in tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. Central Florida is particularly at risk.


A TREND THAT’S NOT YOUR FRIEND: A record high minimum temperature was observed in Key West Thursday — the third day this month that a record warm low was set or tied.

Record high minimum temperatures are as common as burnt toast around the Florida peninsula, especially on the East Coast. One reason is that water temperatures in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico are so often above normal that any overnight sea breeze tends to keep temperatures mild.

This trend has been picking up steam since 2000. In Miami, for example, 142 record warm lows have been tied or set since 2000 — that’s 39 percent having occurred in this century even though temperature records in Miami go back 123 years to 1895.

Florida residents are accustomed to hot days and balmy nights, but this is a nationwide trend that has more dire implications.

The New York Times reported Wednesday: “Nights Are Warming Faster Than Days. Here’s Why That’s Dangerous.”

It’s risky in places where fewer people have air conditioning because they’ve never needed it in the past. With nighttime heat, the body doesn’t get as much of a chance to cool down. (Burlington, Vermont had a low on July 2 of 80, the warmest low temperature ever recorded for the city.)

In places like Vermont — and even in coastal California — “people are less physiologically acclimated (the body can get used to higher temperatures up to a point) and less behaviorally adapted to hot weather,” The Times’ Kendra Pierre-Louis and Nadja Popovich noted.


TROPICS WATCH: Stick a fork in ex-Tropical Storm Beryl — it’s likely cooked. The National Hurricane Center knocked chances of redevelopment down from as high as 50 percent to 20 percent on Friday, when the sprawling system was located 300 miles west of Bermuda.

“The associated shower and thunderstorm activity remains disorganized due to strong upper-level winds,” the NHC said in its Tropical Weather Outlook. “These winds are expected to become even less conducive for subtropical or tropical development over the next day or two while the low moves north-northeastward at about 10 mph, and additional development will be limited once the low reaches colder waters by Saturday night or Sunday.”

Chris becomes season’s second hurricane; Naples hits record high at 96


UPDATE: Chris became the second hurricane of the season Tuesday with winds of 85 mph. The National Hurricane Center predicted it would become a Category 2 storm with winds of 100 mph by early Wednesday before post-tropical by Thursday. It poses no threat to U.S. land areas. (Image Credit: NHC)

With Chris headed out to sea — it may clip the eastern tip of Newfoundland on Friday — and ex-Beryl aiming for the Central Bahamas and points north, Florida weather is following its typical summertime plot line. And that means heat.

It was 96 in Naples Monday, which tied a record high originally set in 2004. The heat index in Naples was 109 degrees at 4 p.m.

Even in Key West, which often enjoys the moderating effects of ocean breezes, the heat index was 103 at 3 p.m.

Other heat index values around the peninsula: Miami, 100; Fort Lauderdale, 101; Fort Myers, 100; Punta Gorda, Gainesville and Melbourne, 99; West Palm Beach, 98 and Orlando, 95.

It doesn’t look particularly promising in terms of widespread rainfall through the rest of the week, with precipitation chances in the 20 percent range in Tampa through Friday, 30 percent in South Florida, and 20-30 percent in East-Central Florida. In the Jacksonville forecast, there’s no mention of rain at all until Friday.

Double-check those irrigation systems!

RAINFALL REPORT: Monday’s winner was in Alachua County northeast of Gainesville, where an observer for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network measured 2.29 inches. An observer in Central Citrus County southeast of Crystal River measured 1.76 inches. Most areas of South Florida were dry and rainfall elsewhere was light.

TROPICS WATCH: The National Hurricane Center expects Tropical Storm Chris to become the season’s second hurricane Tuesday afternoon with winds of 80 mph. Forecasters expect it to top out as a 90-mph storm late Wednesday before transitioning into a post-tropical system late in the week over colder water.

No coastal watches or warnings were issued by the NHC. Eastern Nova Scotia had a 5-10 percent chance of getting tropical storm force winds from Chris, while the eastern tip of Newfoundland had a 60 percent chance.

As for ex-Beryl, the National Weather Service in Miami issued a statement on the system late Monday. “At this time none of the guidance and overall conditions favor the potential development of tropical wave Beryl to be a concern for South Florida despite the 50 percent chance of development as it approaches the central Bahamas, ” Pablo Santos, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Miami said.

“The potential development region remains well to our east and upper level flow pattern favors it turning north well east of us. We will continue to monitor this closely and should this perspective change we will let you know.”

Ex-Beryl headed for Bahamas


Tropical Storm Chris had top winds of 60 mph and was forecast to become the season’s second hurricane on Tuesday, while the remnants of Beryl slide west over the northeastern Caribbean. (Image credit: NHC)

WEATHER SERVICE ISSUES STATEMENT ON BERYL: “At this time none of the guidance and overall conditions favor the potential development of tropical wave Beryl to be a concern for South Florida despite the 50 percent chance of development as it approaches the central Bahamas, ” Pablo Santos, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Miami said in a 7 p.m. statement to the media.

“The potential development region remains well to our east and upper level flow pattern favors it turning north well east of us. We will continue to monitor this closely and should this perspective change we will let you know.”


ORIGINAL POST: Ex-Beryl has a date with the Bahamas later in the week, the National Hurricane Center said Monday, but the question is — will there be any impact on Florida weather from the one-time hurricane?

On Monday morning, forecast models were mostly placing any redevelopment of Beryl in the Central Bahamas, and the National Weather Service says it will have no direct impact on the peninsula except to turn winds southerly. But that wind flow will be enough to pump tropical moisture into South Florida, upping rain chances to 40 percent.

Highest rain chances will be across the interior, forecasters said.

A few forecast models bring ex-Beryl a little closer to Florida’s East Coast, in particular the Canadian model (CMC), which is not one of the more respected models for tropical weather forecasting. In its 8 a.m. Monday Tropical Weather Outlook, the NHC had the orange redevelopment cone covering Andros Island to Grand Bahama north-northeast through the Central Bahamas and into the open Atlantic.

What will likely turn ex-Beryl away from the U.S.? NWS Melbourne explains: “Upper trough over [the Northeastern] US deepens, causing TC Chris offshore [North Carolina] to eject [northeast]. This trough and associated height weakness will also capture remnants of TC Beryl, recurving the system near/east of the easternmost Bahamas.”

One other tropical impact to Florida this week: Tropical Storm Chris increases the threat for rip currents for the northeast Florida beaches, according to the NWS Jacksonville. On Monday, the risk was “Moderate” from just north of Jacksonville south through Flagler County beaches.

Chris may also trigger a northeast swell, building through Tuesday as high as 5-6 feet off-shore of Volusia and Brevard counties, the NWS-Melbourne said.

Minus any changes in the forecast, Florida should be looking at a “typical summertime pattern” as we head into the weekend, forecasters said.

Remnants of Beryl.png

Puerto Rico, still struggling to recover from last year’s Hurricane Maria, was bracing for up to 4 inches of rain from the remnants of Beryl. A Flash Flood Watch was issued. (Image credit: NWS-San Juan)


FLORIDA RAINFALL WATCH: Heaviest precipitation Sunday was in the panhandle, where an observer in southern Gadsden County west of Talahassee reported 3.77 inches to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network.


NATIONAL ATTENTION FOR LAKE O: The algae bloom on Lake Okeechobee — which now covers about 90 percent of the 730-square-mile lake — is filtering into canals on the coast and smells like “opening a bag of moldy bread,” the New York Times says in story published Monday.

The bloom, a result of rain, hot weather agricultural runoff, occurs every summer but this summer is the worst many have seen. NOAA scientists are warning people who come into contact with it to immediately wash it off to avoid irritation. It can be fatal for dogs that swim in it.

NOAA researchers are engaged in studies to see whether the yearly algae blooms — which affect other freshwater lakes around the nation as well — are becoming more frequent and severe, the newspaper reports.

Beryl losing some of its punch as it drives toward islands


(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.


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.


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)

Tropical Storm Beryl ‘unlikely’ to impact Florida, forecasters say

Tropical Storm Beryl forms in Atlantic


UPDATE: The depression was upgraded to Tropical Storm Beryl by the National Hurricane Center at 2:30 p.m. By 5 p.m., forecasters were predicting that Beryl would become the season’s first hurricane on Saturday morning. Nevertheless, they continue to expect dissipation by Monday as it rolls over the Lesser Antilles. Forecast tracks, meanwhile, have shifted south into the Caribbean. (Image credit: NHC)


The season’s second tropical depression formed in the Central Atlantic Thursday and forecasters at the National Hurricane Center predicted it would become the second named storm of the year by Friday. But they said it would be short-lived due to high wind shear near the Lesser Antilles. They predicted dissipation by Monday. “Even though the cyclone is expected to dissipate east of the Lesser Antilles early next week, the remnant tropical wave will continue moving quickly westward, likely bringing locally heavy rains and gusty winds to portions of the Leeward Islands on Sunday and Monday,” Hurricane Specialist Robbie Berg said in the storm’s first forecast discussion. 

Invest 95L

‘VERY UNLIKELY’: The National Weather Service sums up the potential threat posed to Florida by Invest 95L in the Atlantic by noting that major forecast models call for the system to dissipate once it reaches the Lesser Antilles. Early Thursday morning, the National Hurricane Center was giving the disturbance a 70 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression — or possibly Tropical Storm Beryl — as it moves west-northwest in the Central Atlantic. A second low south of Bermuda had a 30-40 percent chance of developing as it moves toward the north. If both would develop, the next name on the 2018 list is Chris.


Nature went toe-to-toe with fireworks displays on Wednesday as an upper level low whipped up strong storms accompanied by a lightning show that lasted through the evening hours.

Thunderstorms ripped across Florida’s East Coast in the early morning hours of Thursday, too, dumping as much as 1.77 inches of rain in West Palm Beach.

Southwest Florida was hammered on the holiday, with Fort Myers officially picking up 3.56 inches. Tampa reported 1.47 inches and inland, in Hendry County, an observer reported 2.32 inches to the National Weather Service in Miami.

East-Central Florida saw some soakers as well. Parts of Putnam County and Brevard County were hit with around 2.5 inches of rain.

Thursday was expected to be a carbon copy of Wednesday, with afternoon storms slamming South Florida and Central Florida.

Starting on Sunday, there’s a potential for “a slightly drier air mass” to take control in South Florida, NWS forecasters said in their Thursday morning analysis from Miami. They noted that tropical waves moving in from the Atlantic could push rain chances back above normal again next week.

Although it seems likely that 95L will get dismantled by strong wind shear near the Lesser Antilles, the GFS suggests that some of the moisture associated with it could eventually wash into the Florida peninsula.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for normal levels of precipitation in Florida from July 10-18.