Researchers find Martian water deposit the size of Lake Superior

Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids, but it’s apparently a lot more hospitable to exploration than previously thought.

Researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced Tuesday the discovery of a deposit of ice just a few feet below the surface of the planet that holds as much water as Lake Superior.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (Credit: NASA)

It was found through observations by the space agency’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

“This deposit is probably more accessible than most water ice on Mars, because it is at a relatively low latitude and it lies in a flat, smooth area where landing a spacecraft would be easier than at some of the other areas with buried ice,” said Jack Holt of the University of Texas, who has studied Martian ice under the polar caps.

The source of fresh water could help sustain explorers, but it also may hold clues to Mars’ ancient climate, and provide potential evidence of past life.

“We don’t understand fully why ice has built up in some areas of the Martian surface and not in others,” said Joe Levy of the University of Texas, who co-authored the study that discovered the huge ice deposit. “Sampling and using this ice with a future mission could help keep astronauts alive, while also helping them unlock the secrets of Martian ice ages.”

The deposit is only 3 feet below the surface in some areas, and is up to 260 feet thick.


BREEZY THANKSGIVING DAY: Winds are forecast to gust up to 20 mph on Florida’s East Coast, according to the National Weather Service. The high should be in the low 80s with lows in the low 70s under partly sunny skies.

A cold front is expected to plow through the peninsula on Friday night, with highs Saturday and Sunday in South Florida in the mid- to upper-70s. Lows will be in the 60s as winds once again swing around to the northeast.



(Image credit: NHC)

OTTO EYES PACIFIC: The storm in the Caribbean lost a little strength Wednesday morning and was downgraded to a tropical storm with 70 mph winds. But it was forecast to muscle back up to hurricane strength before slamming into Central America on Thursday.

Otto is now forecast to survive the trip across land and move into the Northeastern Pacific as a tropical storm. It will likely head west-northwest and become an extra-tropical depression by the weekend, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Hurricane warnings were posted for parts of the coasts of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and parts of Panama were under a tropical storm warning.

Hurricane Otto headed to Pacific


RECORD WATCH:  Otto is the latest hurricane formation on record in the Caribbean, the National Hurricane Center says. It formed one day later than 1969’s Hurricane Martha. The storm is expected to make landfall in Central America on Thursday and enter the Northeastern Pacific as a 50-mph tropical storm. It will keep its name, despite changing basins. (Credit: NHC)

ORIGINAL POST: With just nine days left in the official 2016 hurricane season, Tropical Depression 16 formed in the Caribbean Monday and it was expected to strengthen into a hurricane before smashing into Central America.

If it’s named as forecast by late Monday or Tuesday, it would become Tropical Storm Otto.

On the track forecast by the National Hurricane Center, the storm should make landfall around the border of Nicaragua and Costa Rica late in the week after meandering around the southern Caribbean for several days.

It’s expected to move into the Eastern Pacific by the weekend after peaking as a Category 1 75-mph hurricane prior to landfall.

“The slow-moving system will be capable of bringing days of heavy rain to Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua,” Weather Underground blogger Bob Henson said in a post Sunday.


Temperatures plunged into the low 50s Monday morning in South Florida. It was 51 in West Palm Beach, 58 in Miami and 56 in Fort Lauderdale.

Palmdale, southwest of Lake Okeechobee reported 37 degrees and it was 39 in Immokalee in inland Collier County. A nearby South Florida Water Management District station unofficially reported a low of 31 at 6:45 a.m.

The temperatures were the coldest to hit the area since late February, but they should be short-lived.

A quick warm-up was due as winds shift off the Atlantic on Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service said. Monday night/ Tuesday morning’s forecast lows are in the low 70s in coastal areas of South Florida.


Areas around Rochester, NY were buried under more than a foot of lake-effect snow late Sunday and Monday as winds gusted up to 45 mph.

Heaviest totals were in Wayne County and Oswego County, where 17 inches had fallen by early Monday morning, according to the National Weather Service in Buffalo. A lake-effect snow warning was in effect through 7 p.m. Monday.

South Florida temps headed into 40s, forecasters say


Temperatures could fall into the 40s early Monday morning, according to the National Weather Service. (Credit: NWS-Miami)

Get those jackets out of the back of the closet — this weekend’s cold front means business!

Even on the coast, temperatures may drop into the 50s as far south as West Palm Beach and in the interior, the upper 40s in eastern Collier County. Monday morning’s forecast low in Homestead is 56 degrees.

“Sunday and Monday look cooler than normal with highs only in the low- to mid-70s early next week and overnight lows potentially dropping into the upper 40s for the interior and Gulf coast and mid-upper 50s along the east coast,” forecasters said in their Thursday morning analysis from Miami.

Temperatures are expected to be below normal through the end of the month with mostly dry conditions, according to NOAA’s latest long-range forecasts released today.

The agency is predicting drier than normal conditions in the state through February with above-average temperatures through the southern tier of states. But forecasters for NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center hedged their bets for December, saying there were equal chances of above, below or normal temperatures for next month.

Flooding caused by seasonally high tides should begin tapering off on Friday, the National Weather Service in Miami said.



Only scattered convection was popping up in the Caribbean Thursday, but the National Hurricane Center is still high on 90L developing. (Credit: NOAA)

Invest 90L could still develop over the weekend — the National Hurricane Center is giving it a 70 percent chance of becoming a depression or tropical storm over the next five days — but it continued to look very messy today despite some spin.

Most forecast models show the system meandering around the Caribbean for several days and then moving into Central America. A couple of outliers want to send it up to Cuba and one moves 90L over the Yucatan Peninsula.

There are only 13 days left in the official 2016 hurricane season so 90L better keep an eye on the calendar. But December storms are rare but not unheard of. There was an unnamed storm in December of 2013 (spotted in post-season analysis), but the last named December system was Tropical Storm Olga, which dissipated on Dec. 13.

It later sloshed ashore in West-Central Florida as a remnant low.




New tropical storm could be forming; weekend cold snap takes aim at Florida


An area of low pressure forming in the southern Caribbean Sea on Tuesday could become the 2016 hurricane season’s 15th named storm. (Credit: NOAA)

With just two weeks left in the official hurricane season, the Caribbean is trying to spin up one more storm — a system that could meander near the Central American coast as Thanksgiving approaches.

There were signs of organization already on Tuesday, and forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami upped chances of development to 80 percent by the weekend.

What eventually happens to this low — which would be named Tropical Storm Otto if it can brew up sustained winds of at least 39 mph — is unclear, with forecast models all over the board. Some show it remaining nearly stationary for several days before jogging west and running into Central America.

The last year with this kind of late-season development was 2013, when Tropical Storm Melissa formed southeast of Bermuda on Nov. 18 and peaked with 65 mph winds. That was followed up by an unnamed subtropical storm on Dec. 5, which the NHC discovered in its post-season analysis.


Forecast tracks for Invest 90L. (Credit: SFWMD)


Time to break out the sweaters and jackets!

How does this sound for a temperature next Monday: 72 degrees. Yes, that’s the forecast high in West Palm Beach, not the low.

The cold front that sagged through South Florida on Monday brought cooler air and couple of spotty showers, and forecast highs this week are in the upper 70s. But then another weekend cold front blows through South Florida, driving coastal lows down to near 60.

Sunday’s foreast high is 73; 72 on Monday.

Near Lake Okeechobee, lows Sunday night should be in the mid-40s, and upper 30s are expected in North Florida.

It now looks like the second half of November will be cooler than normal through the Florida peninsula, with drier than normal conditions holding on into December. That’s according to the latest forecasts by the Climate Prediction Center.

NOAA is still predicting a warm and dry winter in Florida due to La Niña in the Pacific. The agency’s updated winter forecast will be posted on Thursday.

AccuWeather says the Florida cold snap will be short-lived, though, with highs returning to the low 80s for Thanksgiving.

Coastal flooding slams South Florida; Hurricane Center watching Caribbean


(Credit: NWS-Miami)

A full moon and its closest approach to Earth add up to a flood advisory for Florida’s East Coast. Above-normal tides are expected through at least mid-week, according to meteorologist Arlena Moses at the National Weather Service in Miami.

The advisory runs through 4 p.m. Wednesday, but the event should peak Tuesday and Wednesday. Watch for road closures and flooding of roads.

Several vulnerable areas around South Florida are generally at risk for this type of flooding, including the west side of Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale Beach and Palm Beach, where the Lake Trail on the island’s west side is often under water.

Also, sections of Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach, from Southern Boulevard north to downtown, may be flooded due to water backing in from the Intracoastal.

Central Florida, meanwhile, was dealing with heavy fog Sunday morning with visibility of less than a quarter of a mile from Titusville west into Orlando and north to Daytona Beach.



The National Hurricane Center is watching an area in the southern Caribbean for development. (Credit: NHC)

A parting shot from the 2016 hurricane season may arrive just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday week, as a low in the southern Caribbean and spins north or northeast.

That’s the scenario described by the ECMWF, which predicts that a tropical storm or hurricane could be just south of Jamaica a day or two before Thanksgiving.

The GFS has shown similar forecasts, but Sunday’s early run instead backs the low into Central America.

The Canadian model (CMC) cranks the low up next Friday, drags it up over Jamaica on Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, and then sends it toward Haiti — in the same spot ravaged by Hurricane Matthew in October.

The Navy model (NAVGEM) forecasts a broad low approaching Jamaica next weekend.

There’s no indication that it will have any impacts on Florida, as models seem to agree on a track to the northeast or east-northeast once it gets past the Greater Antilles.

The National Hurricane Center is giving the area a 60 percent chance of developing into a tropical depression — or Tropical Storm Otto — late this week as it drifts toward the north or northeast.

Weekend lake-effect snow to smack Northeast; tropics may perk up


Cold air will be sweeping down from Canada late this week, impacting most of the country all the way down to the Florida peninsula. (Credit: NOAA)

Here we go — the Northeast will get its first taste of winter this weekend with lake-effect snow impacting parts of the snow belt and chilly temperatures stretching all the way down to Baltimore and into the Southeast.

Cold air will sweep into Upstate New York on Friday and highs won’t even make it to 50 degrees on Veterans Day in Buffalo, according to the National Weather Service.

On Friday night, rain showers move in and as the low temperature bottoms out at around 34 degrees, residents may wake up early Saturday morning to snow showers.

AccuWeather is predicting “a coating to areas that have the most persistent snow showers,” and roads may become slick. Snow showers may persist all day Saturday in higher elevations of New York and Pennsylvania.

“Enough snow may fall to shovel, especially across the Catskills, Adirondacks and White and Green Mountains by Saturday night,” the commercial forecasting service says.

National Weather Service forecasters in Buffalo said on Tuesday: “While this will not be a
significant event, there could be enough snow in these favored areas for minor accumulations.”

Forecast lows in Boston Friday night and Saturday night are 36 and 33, respectively. New York is forecast to drop into the upper 30s and Saturday night’s forecast low in Baltimore is 34.

In fact, overnight lows on Saturday night are expected to fall into the 30s as far south as Atlanta.

In Florida, weekend lows will range from around 50 in North Florida to the mid-60s in West Palm Beach and South Florida and around 70 in the Keys.



The GFS forecast for Thanksgiving week. (Credit: NOAA)

Despite the active pattern of cold fronts sweeping across the North American continent, the tropics may not have wrapped up its business for the season.

Major models continue to predict that a low will brew up in the Caribbean toward the middle or end of next week and move north toward Cuba or Hispaniola.

Tuesday’s model runs suggest that whatever forms will be pushed into the Atlantic well east of the Bahamas.

The outlier is the Canadian model (CMC), which shows another low developing off Northeast Florida and moving south toward the Northwestern Bahamas late next week and into the pre-Thanksgiving Day weekend.

Hurricane Center watching Atlantic low for development


An area of disturbed weather in the Central Atlantic has a 10 percent of development by Saturday and a 20 percent chance by Tuesday. (Credit: NHC)

With just 27 days left in the 2016 hurricane season, another potential Otto has popped up on the National Hurricane Center map. A non-tropical area of low pressure about 1,000 northeast of the Leeward Islands could become subtropical as it moves toward the northeast, NHC forecasters said.

They gave it a 20 percent chance of becoming a depression — or Subtropical Storm Otto — over the next five days as it moves toward the north-northeast.

The GFS and ECMWF both predict some development from the system, but nothing that should affect land.

Climatology does suggest that the Atlantic Basin could squeeze out one more named storm, and forecast models have been running hot and cold regarding possible development this month in the Caribbean.

But nothing has come together so far. With the exception of the area under scrutiny by the NHC, the ultra-long-range GFS looks fairly quiet through at least the middle of the month.

By the way: Whether the Atlantic season ends with another named storm or not, 2016 is going to be a year in which the long-range forecasting services ended up looking pretty good.

Current storm totals stand at 14 named systems, six hurricanes and three majors. Colorado State University’s June 1 forecast was for 14 named storms, six hurricanes and two majors. The United Kingdom’s Tropical Storm Risk was a little on the high side with its May 27 forecast for 17 storms, nine hurricanes and four majors.

NOAA fell within its own margin of error with its May 27 forecast for 10-16 named storms, four to eight hurricanes and one to four majors.



Slightly cooler temperatures are in the forecast for the start of the weekend. (Credit: NWS-Miami)

OCTOBER IN REVIEW: Two major South Florida weather sites — Miami and Naples — had a top 10 warmest October, the National Weather Service reported Thursday. Miami’s overall average temperature was 80.7 degrees, making it the seventh-warmest October on record. Naples had its ninth-warmest October, with an average temperature of 79.3 degrees.

West Palm Beach had its 12th-warmest October with an average temperature of 80.1. Temperatures in Fort Lauderdale, though, were slightly below average.

Monthly precipitation in South Florida was slightly below average in many areas, but mostly above normal on Florida’s East-Central coast after its close encounter with Hurricane Matthew.