(Image credits: NOAA/ CPC)
NOAA’s spring forecast was issued Thursday, calling for above normal temperatures in Florida and the eastern third of the U.S., and above normal rainfall in March, April and May.
Forecasters said chances of warmer-than-normal temperatures in East were “rather modest,” and added that the El Niño in place in the tropical Pacific contributed to the forecast of wetter than usual conditions in Florida and other southern states “to a small extent.” The current El Niño is forecast to be weak.
In Florida, chances of a warm and relatively wet March were pegged at greater than 50 percent, according to the Climate Prediction Center.
Interestingly, Thursday’s run of the GFS model is predicting some cooler temperatures to start off the new month in Florida, with some lows in the 40s popping up around parts of the central peninsula the week of March 3.
RECORD REDUX: NOAA scientists continually point out that weather is different than climate. Weather incorporates day-to-day changes in temperature and precipitation, whereas climate is the slow evolution of average rain and temperature measurements over years or decades.
“Here’s one way to visualize it,” the agency says on its website on the topic. “Weather tells you what to wear each day. Climate tells you what types of clothes to have in your closet.”
“As global climate changes, weather patterns are changing as well. While it’s impossible to say whether a particular day’s weather was affected by climate change, it is possible to predict how patterns might change.”
So, is this month’s Florida heat wave an indication of climate change? Or is it just a part of routine fluctuations in the weather?
We can leave it to the experts to hash out, but here’s an interesting note: Most of Wednesday’s record warm temperatures beat or matched records that were set exactly one year ago — on the same date in 2018.
Fort Lauderdale’s low temperature Wednesday was 76, which beat the previous record of 75 set on February 20, 2018.
West Palm Beach’s low of 76 beat the record of 75 set on the same date in 2018.
Key West tied a record warm low of 76, set on the same date in 2018.
Marathon’s low of 77 beat the record of 74 last set in 2018. It was also set in 1961, 1984, 1989, 1990, 1997 and 2014. The high of 86 in Marathon beat the old record of 85 set in 1992. This was the ninth warm temperature record set this month in Marathon.
Sanford scored a record high with 86 — a degree warmer than the record set on the same date in 2018.
In North Florida, Gainesville’s high of 86 beat the old record of 85 set in 2018.
Jacksonville set a record high dew point for the date — a very tropical 70 degrees. That broke the old dew point temperature of 69 set a year ago in 2018.
Orlando also tied a record warm minimum Wednesday with 69, but that tied a record set 58 years ago in 1961.
RAINFALL TO THE RESCUE: Moderate Drought conditions on Florida’s East Coast have been wiped away by moderate to heavy rainfall over the last couple of weeks. The U.S. Drought Monitor left Abnormally Dry conditions in place from Brevard County south to coastal South Florida, including Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade.
But the Moderate Drought from Brevard south into Martin County was changed to Abnormally Dry in the latest analysis released Thursday.
“Coastal southern Florida’s small area of abnormal dryness (D0) and moderate drought (D1) received additional rain, resulting in some further trimming of coverage,” said Brad Rippey, who wrote Thursday’s analysis for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “In fact, the elimination of Florida’s D1 leaves no drought east of the Mississippi River.
“Year-to-date rainfall through February 19 was above normal in Florida locations such as Vero Beach (5.06 inches, or 119% of normal) and Fort Pierce (4.89 inches, or 112%). Miami’s year-to-date rainfall, at 3.34 inches (106%), was also slightly above normal.”