Florida temps top nation … again … but rain on the way

Six Florida cities shared the nation’s high temperature on Monday — 86 degrees — the fourth day in a row the state had the warmest temperature in the 48 contiguous states. The highs were logged at Naples, Winter Haven, Marathon, Sarasota, Tampa and Lehigh Acres.

The country’s low was – 25 degrees at Dunkirk, Montana.

Mid-80s were as common as conch chowder in Collier County, although coastal areas were slightly cooler thanks to breezes off the Atlantic, where the water temperatures have bottomed out to a mid-winter 75 degrees.

 

Expected rainfall South Florida rainfall amounts are on the left, and high-end totals are on the right. Click on image for link to larger original. (Image credits: NWS-Miami)

RAINFALL REPORT: Broward County and Miami-Dade County picked up as much as a quarter-inch of rain on Monday, according to CoCoRaHS, but much heftier totals were in the forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday. The National Weather Service in Miami was forecasting up to an inch of rain in coastal South Florida, with as much as 2 inches an outside possibility.

The rain arrives along with a short-lived cold front that will bring in only slightly cooler air for one day before above normal temperatures slide back into the peninsula for the end of the week. Less rain is predicted in Central Florida and the West Coast.

Rain chances edge back up for the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

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HISTORIC STORM: Hawaii was blasted by winds of up to 191 mph as a historic” winter low pressure system pounded the islands, causing power outages and killing at least one person.

Higher elevations saw snow and snow fell for the first time on record in Hawaii State Park, elevation 6,200 feet, according to The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang.

The storm was still winding down on Monday night.

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Radar outage KW

Radar for the Florida Keys will be down from Wednesday through Friday for maintenance, the National Weather Service said. You can access radar imagery for the Keys through NWS-Miami. Click on long-range for the big picture. (Image credit: NWS-Key West)

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February in Florida: Temps running up to 8 degrees above average

WCFL temps

Friday’s forecast highs on Florida’s West Coast look toasty, especially inland. (Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

The first week of February was unusually warm from Tallahassee to Key West, with cities ranging from 3-8 degrees above average for this time of the year.

South Florida, from Miami to West Palm Beach was around 3 degrees on the plus side at the bottom end due to breezes off the relatively cool Atlantic. But Tampa was 5.5 degrees above average as was Fort Myers, where five of the first seven days of the month topped out in the 80s.

Temperatures ran 5 degrees above average in the Keys, 4.5 degrees on the upside in Orlando, and an amazing 8.4 degrees in Tallahassee, which had a high of 80 on Thursday.

Jacksonville was 82, and 80s were the norm up and down the peninsula and into the Keys, capped by highs of 84 in Winter Haven and Marathon.

Above normal temperatures are forecast to continue through at least February 21, according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

But here’s a big caveat. Friday morning’s run of the GFS shows some brief polar vortex-type weather the weekend of February 16, with low temperatures in the 30s in North Florida. Temps warm back up quickly the following week, according to this forecast model.

But the long-range climate model CFS predicts a cool end to February and a cool start to March in the southeastern U.S.

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FAB FABRIC: Will it be the next Big Thing in the clothing biz? Researchers have developed a fabric that can cool people when it gets hot and warm them when the temperature drops.

The fabric developed at the University of Maryland consists of specially engineered yarn coated with a conductive metal that compacts under hot and humid conditions, which allows heat to escape from the body. When it gets cold, the fabric blocks the heat from escaping.

“The human body is a perfect radiator. It gives off heat quickly,” said Min Ouyang, professor of physics at UMD and one of the authors of the study about the material, which appeared in the journal Science. “For all of history, the only way to regulate the radiator has been to take clothes off or put clothes on. But this fabric is a true bidirectional regulator.”

The University says the fabric isn’t ready to be sold to the public yet, although a news release notes that the carbon coating that makes it possible “can be easily added during standard dying process.”

“I think it’s very exciting to be able to apply this gating phenomenon to the development of a textile that has the ability to improve the functionality of clothing and other fabrics,” Ouyang said.

Coastal Palm Beach slammed with more than 5 inches of rain

Marathon high temp

(Image credit: NWS-Key West)

Coastal Palm Beach County was hammered with rain Friday as storms developed off-shore and then drifted inland.

Barrier islands were the most affected, but Palm Beach International Airport, a few miles inland, racked up 1.43 inches through early Saturday morning.

A CoCoRaHS observer on Singer Island — northeast of West Palm Beach — checked in with a 24-hour total of 5.15 inches. Just to the north in Juno Beach, a National Weather Service observer reported 2.91 inches. And an observer just west of Lake Mangonia in West Palm Beach measured 3.67 inches.

The island of Palm Beach — near the Par 3 Golf Course — reported 2.91 inches.

Coastal Broward County picked up a fair share of precip as well. Pompano Beach reported 2.78 inches while Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport reported 0.83. Miami International Airport, though, only had a trace.

A TASTE OF THE WARM-UP TO COME: Marathon had a high temperature Friday of 84 degrees, tying a record high set in 2008. It was 80 in Key West.

Highs in Orlando are forecast to be near 80 by the end of next week.

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PHIL SPRINGS INTO ACTION: Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow Saturday morning after emerging from his burrow in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and forecast an early spring.

The last time Phil predicted an early spring, in 2016, he was correct. He has predicted an early spring only 18 times in the 122-year history of the event. Still, the pros at NOAA and the National Weather Service aren’t impressed.

“While Groundhog Day is a way to have a little fun at mid-winter, climate records and statistics tell us that winter probably isn’t over,” NOAA says on its Groundhog Day website. “Climatologically speaking, the three coldest months of the year are December, January, and February, so winter typically still has a bit to go when the groundhog comes out in search of his shadow on February 2.”

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January SFL wrap

South Florida’s January at a glance. For January stats in the rest of the state, see Friday’s Florida Weather Watch post. (Image credit: NWS-Miami)

How the shutdown impacts the National Weather Service

The National Weather Service isn’t posting much of Facebook these days — blame the holiday government shutdown.

“All public National Weather Service activities have been canceled or postponed until further notice,” the agency said in a statement. “The National Weather Service will continue to provide critical forecast, watch, and warning information to protect life and property throughout the shutdown.”

Another release noted: “Our social media accounts and website (weather.gov/key) will remain updated, but posts/replies will be limited to subjects directly related to forecasts and warnings.”

In a column for Forbes, contributor Marshall Shepherd, a former NWS employee, commented: “There is no pay even for workers that sacrifice themselves on behalf of grateful citizens like you and me. These are truly patriots in my view.

“Typically, federal workers are retroactively paid, but in the anomalous, tantrum-driven political era that we are currently witnessing, retroactive pay is certainly no guarantee.

“Even with the ‘promise of pay’ for furloughed employees, mortgages are still due now, and the holiday season is dampened.”

AccuWeather also posted a story on how the shutdown affects the NWS.

“The shutdown forces many federal agencies to cease operations, including those in the weather industry such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Weather Service, the U.S. Geological Survey and NASA,” the commercial forecasting service said.

A shutdown that lasts a few days isn’t a big deal for Weather Service employees, according to Dallasnews.com. But if it lasts for any longer than that, it’ll mean paycheck delays, the news service said.

Week forecast to wind down with wind and rain

WCFL temps

It was chilly Wednesday morning in West-Central Florida, with freezing temperatures at Brooksville and Crystal River. (Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

Hold on to your hats on the East Coast as this week winds down — the National Weather Service is predicting wind gusts of up to 25 mph Thursday and Friday.

It’s actually a continuation of the gusty winds we had earlier this week post-cold front. West Palm Beach recorded a gust of 34 mph on Tuesday; Fort Lauderdale recorded a 29 mph gust and in Naples winds were gusting up to 25 mph. Boca Raton Airport reported a 33 mph gust.

In East-Central Florida, winds gusted up to 30 mph.

Winds calmed down on Wednesday morning, but there were still wind chills in the low 30s from Orlando over to Daytona BeachWednesday early morning temps: Upper 40s to low 50s in southeast Florida; mid-40s in southwest Florida; upper 30s to low 40s in Central Florida; and upper 20s to low 30s in northwest Florida with freezing temperatures reported as far south as Williston southwest of Gainesville and in Brooksville, where it was 32.

Unofficially, Live Oak checked in with a very chilly early morning temperature of 27 degrees.

With the late week warm-up, rain chances rise again topping out at 50 percent in South Florida on Friday night; 70 percent in the Orlando and Tampa areas, according to forecasters.

NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center shows the heaviest rain in North Florida with dimishing totals toward the south.

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ALARM BELLS IN THE ARCTIC: The Arctic had the second-warmest air temperatures on record over the winter and the second-lowest overall sea-ice coverage, NOAA reported Tuesday. The Bering sea had the lowest level of winter ice on record.

The agency’s annual Arctic Report Card also noted a “long-term population decline of the region’s iconic wildlife species, the caribou” and said that toxic algae were being fed into the Arctic Ocean by currents from other oceans worldwide.

Things get sticky as cold front becomes warm front

DST ends

TICK-TOCK CHECK YOUR CLOCK: Did you remember to “fall back?” Yeah, we’re back on standard time despite the recent push to stay on Daylight Saving Time all year. A little more sunlight in the morning can’t be a bad thing …. (Image credit: NOAA)

Saturday’s cold front did an about-face and became a warm front on Sunday, pushing dew points and humidity back up to summer-like levels. Expect temperatures to follow this week, the National Weather Service says.

Dew points had been in the more-or-less comfortable mid- to upper-60s on Friday and Saturday, but by Sunday morning they were in the sticky mid- to upper 70s all along the southeast coast from Miami north, and around 70 in Naples.

Highs around South Florida this week are headed for the mid- to upper-80s, forecasters said, low- to mid-80s in the Keys.

Through the upcoming week, “No big cool downs are expected due to the lack of drier continental air being able to make its way into the area,” forecasters said in their Sunday morning discussion. “Rain chances should remain in the forecast for most of the period, with the potential for some thunderstorms as well.”

Central Florida will be in the mid-80s through at least mid-week, with North Florida headed for the low 80s.

RAINFALL REPORT: Don’t turn off your irrigation system. Eighteen-hour totals around the state included 0.15 of an inch in West Palm Beach; 0.11 of an inch in Vero Beach; 0.30 of an inch in Pembroke Pines; a quarter of an inch in Marathon; and 0.05 of an inch in Tampa. Orlando reported a trace of precipitation.

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LET THERE BE (A) LIGHT SHOW: A fireball exploded that exploded Friday night off the West Coast of Puerto Rico “lit up the sky,” an observer told Spaceweather.com. The explosion was photographed by an automated meteor camera.

“According to my software, the brightness of the explosion was magnitude -7.4, or about 20 times brighter than Venus,” said Frankie Lucena. “Any surviving fragments could have splashed down (or made landfall) between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.”

Spaceweather author Dr. Tony Phillips reckons the debris was from the Comet Encke, which “isn’t like that of other comets. The stream is rich in particles about the size of pebbles or small stones–much larger than normal comet dust.”

Earth travels through the area with the comet debris every seven years, he said. More shows may light up the night sky over the next two weeks.

Twin cold fronts due as weekend nears. How cool will it get?

Isabell anniversary

HURRICANE HISTORY: Hurricane Isbell slammed South Florida 54 years ago on Sunday, producing winds of up to 90 mph. Tornadoes caused damage on the southeast coast and in Collier County. There was “significant agricultural damage,” the National Weather Service says. (Image credit: NWS-Miami)

TALKING COLD FRONTS: Will Floridians soon be buzzing about open-window weather?

Two frontal boundaries may approach the state toward the end of the week and again near the end of next weekend, the National Weather Service says.

Here’s what forecasters had to say in their Monday morning discussion from Miami: “The latest guidance continues to diverge with the timing of the cold front and how far south it actually gets before dissipating. Behind the first front, another cold front tries to move into the region later in the weekend and into early next week.

“Confidence is still not high enough to forecast a cool down for South Florida as the latest guidance is still in disagreement on whether or not these fronts will make it this far south. This will continued to be monitored as the week progresses.”

The National Weather Service only projects temperatures seven days out. But AccuWeather, where longer-term forecasts are available, isn’t especially gung-ho about an imminent cool-down for South Florida. The commercial forecasting organization predicts highs in the mid-80s next week and lows in the low-70s, with a more dramatic cool-down the following weekend. The forecast low in Miami on Saturday, October 27 is 64.

In Orlando, though, forecast lows are in the 60s next week and the AccuWeather low for Saturday, October 27 is 55.

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TALKING TIME: As we approach November, the big question is: Will Florida remain on Daylight Saving Time, or will it revert to Standard Time with the rest of the country? It’s a question with major implications for the upcoming winter season.

Taking Orlando as an example, sunrise on Saturday November 3 — one day before the time change is supposed to occur — is at 7:39 a.m. That’s a pretty murky start to the day. On Sunday, November 4, sunrise would be at 6:40 a.m. due to the time change.

Now let’s say Florida stays on Daylight Saving Time. Not only would sunrise be at 7:40 a.m. on that Sunday, but as we get toward the shortest days of the year, sunrise in Orlando would be at 8:14 a.m. on December 21. Sunset would be at 6:34 p.m.

If you live in Tallahassee, you wouldn’t see the sun peek over the horizon until 8:30.

Is this what’s going to happen? It doesn’t look like it, but it’s apparently still possible.

The State Legislature approved year-round Daylight Saving Time for the state in March and the bill was promptly signed by Governor Rick Scott. However, the change still must be approved in Congress and several bills toward that goal have languished, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has introduced two bills, one to make DST permanent in Florida and another to make it permanent nationwide, according to the paper. The bills are currently in the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

The Florida bill, called The Sunshine Protection Act (apparently even sunshine requires the protection of state lawmakers), was so popular that it breezed through the legislature, but it’s hard to see why. It’s already tough enough for people to get going in the morning without having to do it in the dark, not to mention shipping kids off to school when it’s still pitch-black outside.

In schools with early starting times, kids would be sitting in class a half-hour before the sun even comes up. All this so tourists would have an extra hour to play golf.

If Florida goes it alone, imagine having to do business on the West Coast — which would be four hours behind. If you’re doing business in California, you wouldn’t be able to start making phone calls until 1 p.m. As the Sentinel notes, sporting events would be so out of sync for West Coast games, viewership would probably drop off to nothing in Florida.

Fortunately, Congress races ahead these days with all the speed of a sea turtle. Right now it looks like we’ll still be in the “fall back” position when November 4 rolls around.