Naples posts earliest 90-degree day on record

Naples record

(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

Tuesday was the first official 90-degree day of the year in Florida as Naples checked in with a high of 90 — the earliest 90-degree day on record for the city. Previously, the earliest 90-degree day in Naples occurred on February 19 of last year.

It was the first time Naples hit that summery mark since November 7. The last time Miami hit or topped 90 was on November 1.

The normal high in Naples for this time of the year is 78. The normal high doesn’t hit 90 in Naples until June 6.

There have been several unofficial 90-degree days, mostly in the inland areas of Collier County. And Orlando came close on February 13 — but no cigar — with a high of 89.

Tuesday’s 90-degree high in Naples smashed the previous record high for the date of 86, set just two years ago in 2018.

Other record temps around the state:

RECORD HIGHS (TIED): Orlando, (87); Tampa (84); St. Petersburg (83); Lakeland (86) and Leesburg (86).

RECORD WARM LOWS (SET OR TIED): Orlando (65); Sarasota (66); Leesburg (67); Miami (74); Fort Lauderdale (75); West Palm Beach (74); and Key West (78). In the case of Key West, the 78-degree low beat the old record of 77 set just one year ago.

‘Climate chaos’ cited in stinging report on declining bee populations

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The bumblebee may soon go the way of the passenger pigeon. (Image credit: Joaquim Alves Gaspar/ Wikimedia Commons)

MORE CLIMATE CHANGE BUZZ: A rapidly warming world has bumblebees on a fast track to extinction, a new study says. That’s a big problem because bumblebees are the world’s best pollinators.

“We have now entered the world’s sixth mass extinction event, the biggest and most rapid global biodiversity crisis since a meteor ended the age of the dinosaurs,” says Peter Soroye, a PhD student in the Department of Biology at the University of Ottawa in Canada.

Soroye and colleagues developed a new type of climate analysis that takes into account how different species tolerate temperature change, drought and heatwaves. They then applied this technique to 66 bumble bee species across North America and Europe, collected over a 115-year period from 1900-2015.

Using this new “climate chaos” technique, the researchers showed how bumblebee populations have changed by comparing where bees are now to where they were historically.

“We found that populations were disappearing in areas where the temperatures had gotten hotter,” Soroye says. “Using our new measurement of climate change, we were able to predict changes both for individual species and for whole communities of bumble bees with a surprisingly high accuracy.”

They said the bees are disappearing at rates “consistent with a mass extinction.”

“If declines continue at this pace, many of these species could vanish forever within a few decades,” Soroye said.

Bumblebees, although they do not produce honey, are the most effective pollinators for tomatoes, squash and berries, so the loss would be significant.

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GET OUT THE BEACH CHAIRS: The announcement last week that Earth had its warmest January on record was followed up with another milestone: Antarctica recorded its warmest temperature ever, a balmy 65 degrees at Esperanza Base along Antarctica’s Trinity Peninsula.

That busted the previous record high of 63.5 degrees set in 2015.

The peninsula is heating up quicker than most other places on the planet.

“In just the past 50 years, temperatures have surged a staggering 5 degrees in response to Earth’s swiftly warming climate,” the Capital Weather Gang at The Washington Post reported Friday.

“Around 87 percent of glaciers along the peninsula’s west coast have retreated in that time, the majority doing so at an accelerated pace since 2008.”

Heavy rainfall possible this weekend, Weather Service says

Rip current

BEACH SAFETY: This is Severe Weather Awareness Week as designated by the Florida Department of Emergency Management. And today the focus is on marine hazards and rip currents — which kill an average of seven people every year in Florida. That’s more than any other weather-related hazard combined. The safest way to swim is at guarded beaches. There was a Moderate Risk of rip currents at Palm Beach beaches Tuesday. (Image credit: NOAA)

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WEEKEND WARNING: “Thunderstorms and heavy rainfall are possible Friday night into Saturday as a stronger weather system moves through the region,” The National Weather Service in Miami said Tuesday. “Timing and potential impacts are uncertain at this time, so keep up with forecast changes.”

Rain and gusty winds are also in the forecast for Central Florida Friday night and Saturday. For now, it looks like the wet weather will clear out in time for the Super Bowl in Miami on Sunday.

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WHEREFORE ART THOU, POLAR VORTEX? The third-strongest positive Arctic Oscillation on the record books has kept it locked up in Arctic areas, Weather Underground’s Bob HensonWeather Underground’s Bob Henson said in a post on Monday.

A positive Arctic Oscillation means stronger surface pressure at mid-latitudes compared to polar areas. That helps the jet stream blow from west to east and the bitter Arctic air doesn’t have much of a chance to seep down into areas like the United States.

NOAA has been keeping track of the Arctic Oscillation index for 71 years. The strongest on record was in 1993.

There’s some indication that this pattern could break down in early February, but climate models suggest that the cold air won’t make it to Florida.

In the meantime, although it seems as if Florida has had its share of cool weather this month, temperatures are pretty much guaranteed to finish significantly over normal.

Miami is 3.5 degrees on the plus side; Orlando is at plus-5.7 degrees; Tampa temps have been 5.3 degrees above average and Jacksonville is at a whopping 7.2 degrees above average. Tallahassee is at plus-6.6 degrees.

After chilly Sunday morning, ‘unsettled’ weather pattern next week

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NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center has most of the Florida peninsula at risk for thunderstorms on Monday, continuing into Tuesday for South Florida. Another storm system could wet things down next weekend. (Image credit: NOAA/ SPC)

It was a chilly Sunday morning, but actually temperatures could be described as seasonably cool across the peninsula. These days, it seems like the new normal for the southern half of the peninsula is lows in the 60s, but we’re still in the coolest time of the year and average lows are in the 50s.

Average/ normal temps are now on the upswing in Florida; Orlando’s normal low edged up from 49 to 50 today. Miami kicks its normal low up to 61 on Wednesday. Tampa’s normal low gets bumped up to 53 on Thursday.

Morning temps were in the low 50s along the southeastern coast, although it was 55 in Hialeah and 55 in Key Largo, a far cry from the punch of cold air last week when both Miami and Key Largo were shivering at 40 degrees.

There were some low 40s today in interior southwestern Florida, and Central Florida was in the mid- to upper-40s. You had to go northwest of a line from around Dunnellon to St. Augustine to find upper 30s, and the panhandle was mostly in the mid-30s.

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STORMS AND SHADOWS: A low forecast to develop in the Gulf of Mexico will bring rain on Monday, followed by some dry weather and then another round of “unsettled” weather for the weekend. Forecasters’ crystal ball is a little fuzzy seven days out, but Sunday is the Super Bowl at Joe Robbie Stadium Pro Player Stadium Dolphins Stadium Land Shark Stadium Sun Life Stadium Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, and the weather may not be Chamber of Commerce quality for the big weekend-long event.

National Weather Service forecasters in Miami put it this way: “Will certainly continue to the monitor the late week system as it could potentially put a damper on any outdoor activities or games planned for the upcoming weekend.” (Italics added.)

Weather Underground is calling for thunderstorms in Miami on Saturday, but partly cloudy and cooler temps on Sunday, with a high of 73. AccuWeather is forecasting cloudy skies both days.

The main question for next Sunday, though, is not who wins the Super Bowl but whether Punxsutawney Phil sees is shadow up in Pennsylvania. First peek, the forecast for Punxsutawney is for cloudy skies with snow showers, so one might assume that the prophetic groundhog won’t see his shadow and an early spring will be forthcoming.

However, in past years Phil has still managed to see his shadow, despite the lack of sun, and predicted six more weeks of winter. It could be that all the TV cameras cast a shadow, or maybe Phil just mixes environmental observations with pure meteorological instinct.

By the way, this is only the second Super Bowl in history to be played on Groundhog Day. The only other one was on February 2, 2014 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. The Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos 43-8. That year, Punxsutawney Phil predicted a long winter.

It certainly was for the Broncos.

Cold snap delivered coolest temps to Florida in at least five years

coldest in five years

(Image credit: NWS-Key West)

Most Florida cities are headed for an unusually warm January with major temperature anomalies, but the cold snap that started Tuesday knocked average January temperatures down from Key West to Miami to Tallahassee.

After two days of temperatures from 10 to 16 degrees below normal, Miami is still running a January temperature surplus of 3.8 degrees. At least one more cold front is due to cross the peninsula this weekend, but even with a slight cool down is appears major Florida cities will end January with above normal temperatures.

Incredibly, Tallahassee had been running 11 degrees above normal prior to the cold snap, but as of Thursday the temperature anomaly had been slashed to plus-7.7 degrees.

Orlando is still up 6.5 degrees and Tampa is 6.3 degrees on the plus side.

In the Keys, the National Weather Service said Wednesday morning temperatures were the coldest in five years. The low was 40 in Key Largo, the same temperature recorded at Miami International Airport. The low was 50 at the National Weather Service’s Key West office.

The coldest temperature ever recorded in Key West — where temperature records date back to 1873 — is 41 degrees on January 12, 1886 and January 13, 1981. The record low for Wednesday was 48, set in 2009.

Looking at records going back to 2015, I could not find a comparable low of 40 degrees for Miami for January 22. NWS forecasters in Miami said temperatures were the coldest in “several years.”

Interestingly, the 8-14-day forecast issued by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center on Wednesday calls for above normal temperatures everywhere in the United States as February begins — with the exception of South Florida. Normal temps are expected south of Lake Okeechobee, and below normal temperatures are also expected in Alaska. The rest of the nation could see a significant warm-up.

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(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

IT WASN’T FROSTED FLAKES, IT WAS G-R-R-R-R-AUPEL! On Wednesday night, the NWS office in Miami continued to discuss the possibility of graupel, a kind of in-between precipitation that’s neither snow, rain, freezing rain or sleet. The announcement by the NWS office generated considerable discussion on the agency’s Facebook page. Not surprisingly, since graupel is not a household weather term.

You don’t see weather forecasts calling for cloudy skies with a chance of graupel.

The Washington Post discussed it in a story published in 2014. The headline was: Graupel: The wintry precipitation you’ve never heard of.

Writer Don Lipman described Graupel as “a kind of hybrid frozen precipitation … sometimes referred to as ‘snow pellets.’ The National Weather Service defines graupel as small pellets of ice created when super-cooled water droplets coat, or rime, a snowflake.

“Graupel pellets are cloudy or white — not clear like sleet — and often are mistaken for small hail. The most critical necessity for the formation of graupel is extremely cold air at the cloud level.”

As the NWS in Miami emphasized, it’s not snow. With temperatures around 60 in South Florida Wednesday night, it was “too warm for snow to occur,” forecasters said.

Wild weather anniversary for South Florida; space rock lights up Puerto Rico

SFL snow anniversary

FROST AND FLAKES: Today is the 43rd anniversary of snow in South Florida, which left a dusting on cars on January 19, 1977 from West Palm Beach to as far south as Homestead. Freeport in the Bahamas received a mix of rain and snow. Some kids who had never seen snow reveled in it, but adults who had come to South Florida from cold climates to get away from that kind of thing were no doubt appalled. Not to mention that the cold snap caused $350 million in agricultural damage across the state. (Image credit: NWS-Miami)

TUMBLING TEMPS: No, nothing like 1977, not even close, but Tuesday and Wednesday morning will be the coolest weather of the week in Florida, according to the National Weather Service. Forecast lows for each morning: Miami, 59 and 51; Key West, 61 and 54; Orlando, 43 and 38; Tampa, 41 and 37; Jacksonville, 35 and 33; and Gainesville, 31 and 29.

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PUERTO RICO SHAKEN UP: Earthquakes have been plaguing the island, but residents were surprised by a different phenomenon on Friday as an asteroid exploded in the sky, apparently off the coast of San Juan. Observers said the space rock, several feet in length, left a fiery trail in the sky before it exploded in broad daylight, according to The New York Times.

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RECORD WATCH: Vero Beach set a new record warm low temperature Saturday with 69, beating the previous mark of 68 set in 1996. Melbourne tied a record warm low with 64.

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HOT CHOCOLATE WON’T BE ENOUGH: The 76,000 football fans at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City will be enjoying the AFC Championship game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans amid wind chills as low as zero this afternoon. The actual forecast high is 20, but temps will sink back into the teens late in the afternoon headed for a low of 8.

Much better weather is expected in Santa Clara, California for the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers game — the forecast high is 61.

Tampa smashes 73-year-old high temperature record; a birthday cake for NOAA

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FALLING TEMPERATURES are on the docket for next week across the Florida peninsula. (Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

RECORD WATCH: Tampa broke a record high Thursday that had been on the books for 73 years. It was 86, easily beating the old record of 83 set back in 1947. It was 83 in Sarasota, beating the previous mark of 82 also set in 1947.

Fort Myers tied a record high with 85, matching the record set in 1943. And on the other side of the peninsula, Vero Beach tied a record high with 83 degrees, a record originally set in 1989.

Sanford tied a record warm low with 65.

There’s now some question of how cold it might get next week, as least in South Florida. There are differences between the two main forecast models, NOAA’s GFS and the European (ECMWF), with the latter forming a low pressure system in the Atlantic that funnel more cold air down the peninsula, according to the National Weather Service. The GFS suggests winds could switch from northwesterly to easterly as early as Wednesday afternoon.

“Such large differences between potential outcomes lowers confidence in the temperature forecast for this time range and beyond as the amount of cold air advected southward will be greatly influenced by this feature which models continue to struggle to consistently resolve,” forecasters in Miami said in their Friday morning discussion.

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UPSWING: Today is the latest sunrise of the year — 7:10 a.m. in Palm Beach, the eastern-most spot on the Florida peninsula. Actually, it’s been stuck at 7:10 a.m. since January 7. But Saturday’s sunrise will be at 7:09 a.m. and the amount of daylight gained in the morning this time of the year accelerates into February. On January 31, sunrise is at 7:06 a.m.

Sunset in the evening, on the other hand, has been getting later since December 11, when it edged from 5:27 p.m. — the earliest sunset of the year — to 5:28 p.m. Today’s sunset is at 5:50 p.m. and it reaches 6 p.m. on January 30.

It’s not coincidental, of course, that normal/ average temperatures around the peninsula begin slowly inching up next week.

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Meteorologist Robert White, pictured writing a message in 1970 in newsletter NOAA Week, was the agency’s first administrator and served until 1977. (Image credit: NOAA)

LIGHT THE CANDLES: NOAA, the agency that oversees the National Weather Service as well as the National Hurricane Center, is marking its 50th birthday this year.

The agency has its roots in organizations that originated a century earlier with the Survey of the Coast in 1807 and the Weather Bureau and U.S. Fish Commission in the 1870s.

“Our nation’s oldest science agencies came together, as one, with a vision to protect and enrich life by better understanding our ocean and atmosphere,” said Cheryl Oliver, director of the NOAA Heritage program, which honors the legacy of NOAA through special events and exhibits across the country.

“Today, people depend on NOAA science and services every day, in our homes, on the coasts we love, in our daily commerce, in the seafood we eat and in our personal safety.”