Florida temperature records fall from Miami to Tampa

South FL temps

More muggy nights are in the forecast for South Florida, and record warm temperatures are possible, according to forecasters. (Credit: NWS-Miami)

Temperature records — some that had stood for more than 70 years — fell up and down the Florida peninsula Wednesday as summer weather grabbed hold and appeared to settle in for the long run.

The only question was whether the heat and humidity would soon be accompanied by a return to the wet season, a critical issue since most areas continue to struggle with significant rainfall deficits.

Tampa sizzled under a record-breaking high of 98 degrees, shattering the old record of 96 set in 1995. In Sarasota, the high of 97 busted a 74-year-old high temperature record of 95 set in 1943.

Naples also broke a 74-year-old high temperature record with 95, beating the 1943 record of 94, and Fort Myers checked in with 96, 2 degrees hotter than the 2003 record of 94.

Florida’s East Coast, meanwhile, registered record warm minimum temperatures. Wednesday’s low in Miami was 80, which tied a record set just last year. The low in Melbourne was 78, busting the old record of 75 last set in 1980, while Vero Beach tied a record low with 75.

A few spots in inland Collier County reached the upper 90s, but most East Coast locations, including South Florida metro areas, were held to the mid- to upper-80s with brisk easterly winds off the Atlantic. West Palm Beach reported a gust of 29 mph, and gusts as high as 37 mph were measured in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

The area of D3 Extreme Drought expanded to the East Coast this week, encompassing southern and central portions of Brevard County, according to an analysis released by the U.S. Drought Monitor on Thursday. Extreme Drought also expanded west, moving into almost all of Polk County and edging north toward Orlando.

Most of the rest of the Florida peninsula was dealing with D2 Severe Drought, but Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties remained drought-free. Gulf Coast areas in the panhandle were also drought-free.

90 day temps
The U.S. may be in for an unusually hot summer if this long-range forecast from NOAA pans out. (Credit: CPC)

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center released its long-range forecasts for May and for June, July and August on Thursday, showing very high probabilities of above average temperatures along the entire East Coast, from Florida to Maine, and west long the Gulf Coast into South Texas.

Above normal summer temperatures are forecast for most of the U.S., in fact, from the Great Lakes into the Southern Plains and Rocky Mountain States and west into California, Oregon and Washington.

No below average temperatures are forecast anywhere in the country this summer, although forecasters hedged their bets on the northern Central Plains, saying there are equal chances for above normal, below normal or normal temperatures.

FLORIDA RAINY SEASON: The National Weather Service is still anticipating a pattern change to wet season conditions next week. Forecasters in Miami said Thursday:

“The long-term period will start with a continued brisk east/southeast flow regime across the region, as hints of a more typically established wet season pattern become more apparent.

“Increasing low-level moisture and diurnal heating will lead to isolated to scattered showers and thunderstorms through the period. Daytime activity will likely be focused across the interior and Gulf Coast, with nighttime activity more focused across the East Coast and Atlantic waters.”

Florida forecasters see signs that rainy season is around the corner

The National Weather Service notes that Florida’s rainy season is supposed to start on Saturday — will Nature get the memo?

Rain chances in Central and South Florida are expected to ramp up as the week ends, but NWS forecasters are hedging their bets as to whether this will mark the start of the 2017 wet season.

Precipitation probabilities bounce up to 40 percent in some East Coast areas by Friday night, as moisture surges into the peninsula from the east. Strong easterly winds will be the result of the developing Bermuda high — a sure sign that summer is around the corner.

“While this flow pattern resembles a more typical summertime, wet season pattern, it is still too early to tell if we are indeed transitioning to the wet season, which typically occurs on average around May 20,” NWS forecasters said in their Tuesday discussion.

In Melbourne, forecasters said: “The overall trend is for increasing late week rain chances through at least Saturday.” Higher rain chances may return early next week.

7 day rainfall
Rainfall projections through May 23. (Credit: NOAA/ WPC)

For a change, seven-day rainfall projections from NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center look fairly robust for southeastern Florida, with 3.2 inches forecast through next Tuesday near Key largo and significant totals up the East Coast toward Palm Beach.

Rainfall could be enhanced by an approaching frontal boundary early next week, forecasters said.

The Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a wet third week of May in Florida and most of the U.S. east of the Mississippi River.

As of Tuesday, Miami was about an inch behind on May rainfall while Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach were around a half-inch short. Naples had a slight precipitation surplus.

The Keys have a rainfall deficit of around a half-inch but some locations in East-Central Florida are racking up precipitation overages, including Vero Beach, which is 1.52 inches ahead of the game.

Deficits on the West Coast range from around a quarter-inch in Tampa to almost an inch in Sarasota.

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Florida and most of the southeastern U.S. had the warmest January-April period on record. (Credit: NOAA/ NCEI)

EARLY SEASON HEAT: Florida had its warmest January-April period on record, as did 13 other states in the Southeastern U.S. along with Texas and New Mexico, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information reports.

All states in the contiguous 48 had an above-normal January-April period except for Washington, which had below normal temperatures and Oregon, which was around normal.

Nationwide, it was the second-warmest January-April period.

Nine states had their warmest April on record — Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia. Several states had their second-warmest April, including Tennessee, Kentucky and South Carolina.

Florida had its tenth-warmest April.

Eighteen states had record warm minimum temperatures in April.

Week of warm, sultry nights ahead for South Florida

Expect the A/C to keep humming through the night next week — at least if you live on Florida’s East Coast.

South Florida will be going into a period of very balmy nights with lows typical of mid-summer, according to forecasts by the National Weather Service in Miami.

Forecast lows in West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami call for the upper 70s, although highs are expected to back down from the searing low 90s that arrived over the weekend.

Precip forecast
An approaching cold front may trigger showers and thunderstorms across South Florida Sunday, but the front itself is forecast to wash out. (Credit: NOAA/ WPC)

The pattern change will be due to a “deepening easterly flow” forecasters said, as high pressure settles over the Southeastern U.S. Surf temperatures off Palm Beach are running at around 77 degrees.

Will nights be warm enough to tie or break records? Temperatures may be near, or just shy of record warm readings, since records for the third week of May begin climbing toward the 80-degree mark.

Normal lows in South Florida don’t reach the mid- to upper-70s until late July and August.

Interesting to note, though, that sea surface temperatures have actually fallen below normal across the Bahamas and throughout most of the Gulf of Mexico. However, they are much above average across the tropical Atlantic from the coast of Africa through the Caribbean.

Miami tied a record high Saturday with 93, matching a mark set in 1985. It was 91 in Fort Lauderdale, which fell short of the record high of 94 set in 1971. Highs were 88 in West Palm Beach and 87 in Naples.

In East-Central Florida, Vero Beach tied a record high Saturday with 93, matching the mark set in 1974. Melbourne set a new record high Friday with 95, busting the previous record of 94 set in 2003. Melbourne’s high was 91 on Saturday.

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SCIENCE OF THE SPOTLESS SUN: The sun was free of sunspots for five days in a row, NASA writer Tony Phillips noted in his blog on Saturday. It was the 35th day this year without a sunspot, an indication that the Solar Minimum is approaching.

Sunspot activity runs on an 11-year cycle, with this cycle’s Solar Minimum expected to reach its peak some time in 2019 or 2020.

Sunspot activity affects space weather, but not Earth weather, scientists believe. Solar flares send out powerful radiation bursts that can impact communications.

Thunder graphic

SEASONAL WEATHER WARNING: Florida is on the brink the thunderstorm season, and safety is a prime concern since the state has some of the highest lightning activity in the world. Note that of all outdoor sports, soccer exposes the most people to lightning fatalities . (Credit: NWS-Jacksonville)

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THE (WARM AND) WINDY CITY: Chicago temperatures could increase more than 8 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, radically changing the look of local flora by supporting more and more invasive species, according to a new analysis by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service.

Precipitation is expected to increase in winter and spring, but the number of extreme doughts may also increase.

“Increased temperatures will lead to longer growing seasons and shifts in plant hardiness and heat zones,” the Forest Service report said.

West Palm hits 90 for first time since October

West Palm Beach reached 91 on Thursday, the first 90-plus degree temperature of the year and the first time the temperature hit 90 or hotter since Oct. 8. The record for the date was 95 set in 2011.

It was 88 in Miami, 87 in Fort Lauderdale and 86 in Naples.

Unofficially it was 95 in Loxahatchee and it was in the upper 90s west of Lake Okeechobee. In Glades County, Palmdale reported a high of 97.

It was 91 in Fort Pierce, and 93 in Daytona Beach and Orlando.

It was 91 in Tampa and 90 in Fort Myers.

Temperatures are expected to cool slightly on Sunday with coastal highs in the mid-80s next week.

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HURRICANE SEASON CAVEAT: NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center has backed off on predictions of an El Niño forming this summer or fall, now saying there’s an equal chance for neutral conditions or a weak El Niño in the tropical Pacific.

While most forecast models predict water temperatures more than .5 C over normal for the Pacific — the technical threshold for the warm water phenomenon — the higher temps may not last long enough to qualify as an El Niño. That’s five consecutive overlapping months.

As a result, the warmer water “may not significantly impact the atmospheric circulation,” they said.

It’s an important distinction because if the atmosphere isn’t affected, wind shear in the Tropical Atlantic may not be bumped up, as it generally is during an El Niño, or an approaching El Niño.

We’ll have to see if the new forecast affects preseason hurricane predictions. NOAA makes its 2017 forecast at the end of the month.

Extreme Drought expands in Central Florida

Extreme Drought conditions have expanded in Central Florida north of Lake Okeechobee, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported Thursday. They now stretch from the northern shores of the lake to just south of Orlando.

The only drought-free areas of the state included the southeastern counties of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade, and counties along the Gulf Coast in the panhandle. Most of the rest of the state is suffering from Moderate or Severe Drought, including the Tampa area and all of the rest of the western peninsula.

Despite last weekend’s cold front and rain, two of the four major reporting sites in South Florida have fallen behind in monthly precipitation. West Palm Beach and Naples remain slightly ahead of the game, but Miami and Fort Lauderdale have fallen behind by between a third and a half-inch.

The Extreme Drought in Florida is one of only two spots in the entire U.S. dealing with that level of drought, the other being just north of the Florida state line in southeastern Georgia.

California is now almost drought-free, with the exception of a few areas of far Southern California where Moderate Drought remains in place.

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Adrian

Adrian was disorganized Thursday as it moved northwest at 7 mph off the coast of Central America. (Credit: NHC)

MEANDERING IN THE PACIFIC: Adrian, the earliest forming tropical storm in the eastern North Pacific, continued to deteriorate Thursday morning and was expected to become a remnant low by Thursday afternoon. It was downgraded from a tropical storm to a depression Wednesday afternoon.

Adrian was moving toward the northwest — away from the coast of Mexico, and a turn toward the west was expected.

The National Hurricane Center had originally forecast Adrian to become a 100-mph hurricane, but increasing wind shear disrupted the system.

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GLOBAL TEMPERATURE BREAKTHROUGH SEEN: Global temperatures could exceed pre-industrial levels by 1.5 degrees C by 2026, a new study by the University of Melbourne in Australia contends.

Researchers say the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation, or IPO has been in a negative phase, which has somewhat modified the advance of global warming. But they believe the IPO is now transitioning to a positive phase, which could actually enhance, rather than off-set, warming.

“Even if the IPO remains in a negative phase, our research shows we will still likely see global temperatures break through the 1.5 C guard rail by 2031,” lead author Ben Henley says.

Pacific hurricane season on track for early start

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The National Hurricane Center was watching Invest 90E for tropical development. (Credit: NOAA/ NHC)

It looks like we’re headed for an early start to the 2017 Northeast Pacific hurricane season, with one system already on the cusp of becoming a tropical depression or named storm.

This is about a week early, since the Pacific season officially starts on May 15.

On Tuesday morning, Invest 90E was at 8.1N 90W and was moving toward the northwest at around 5 mph. If winds reach 39 mph, it would get the name Tropical Storm Adrian.

Members of the GFS forecast ensemble show the storm curving east-northeast by the end of the week and crossing Central America south of the Yucatan Peninsula, with its remnants possibly emerging into the Caribbean in seven to 10 days.

However, none of the global forecast models seem to show the low actually surviving the crossing.

Satellite records only go back to 1970, but based on that Invest 90E could beat the record for earliest tropical depression in the basin. The earliest depression currently on the books was Tropical Storm Alma on May 12, 1990, according to Jeff Masters at Weather Underground’s Category 6 blog.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami was giving the system a 90 percent chance of becoming a depression or tropical storm by Friday.

The Atlantic season begins June 1.

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Coolest Keys readings

Monday morning lows were still chilly, at least by Florida Keys standards. A steady warm-up is  underway this week, not only in the Keys but up and down the peninsula. (Credit: NWS-Key West)

RECORD WATCH: The cool weekend weather set records in some locations around the state. The low in Orlando on Sunday was 48, busting a 96-year-old record of 49 set in 1921. It was 50 in Vero Beach, beating the old mark of 52 set in 2013. Apalachicola set a record low Saturday with 48, beating the old record of 49 set in 2013.

Also on Saturday, the high temperature at Naples was 78, which tied the mark for the coolest high ever recorded on the date, last set in 2013.

Before the cold front came through on Friday, Key West set a record warm minimum temperature with 79 on Friday morning, beating the previous record of 77 set in 2009.

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Hurricane preparedness NWS

GET READY: NOAA and the National Weather Service are promoting hurricane preparedness this week, with the “Hurricane Awareness Tour” arriving Friday at the Opa-locka Airport in Miami-Dade County. The public can tour hurricane hunter aircraft from 2:30-5:30 p.m.

Florida temps sink into 40s; mobile home growth sparks weather concerns

It was the weekend that open-window weather reigned supreme.

Sunday was another surprisingly cool morning around South Florida — by May standards — with even coastal lows sinking into the 50s as far south as West Palm Beach and inland lows into the 40s in interior Collier County.

Apparent lows included 59 in West Palm Beach, 66 in Miami, 64 in Fort Lauderdale, 61 in Naples, 57 in Homestead, 59 in Margate and 50 in Immokalee.

Some of the coolest temps were in Glades County, where Palmdale was 46.

10 day temps
A cool mid-May is on the horizon — except for Florida, parts of the Southwest and the Upper Midwest. (Credit: NOAA/ CPC)

A site run by the Bureau of Land Management in Collier County at the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge reported a low of 42 degrees.

Temperatures were in the low- to mid-50s around most of the rest of the peninsula at 8 a.m. Sunday, with a few 40s in the panhandle.

It was in the low- to mid-60s as far south as Central Cuba.

Saturday’s highs were also on the cool side with breezy conditions that helped boost the size of crowds at SunFest in downtown West Palm Beach. The temperature topped out at 79, the first sub-80-degree high in the city since April 23.

Temperatures are forecast to stay below normal into mid-May in most of the U.S. east of the Mississippi River and west of the Rocky Mountains. The only pockets of above normal temperatures in the forecast are for South and Central Florida, West Texas and southern New Mexico, and the far Upper Midwest. The cool temps are expected to be accompanied by below normal precipitation.

After that, the final week to 10 days of the month may see a return to above-normal temperatures around most of the country east of the Rockies, according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

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A mobile home in Wadena, Minnesota was destroyed by an EF-4 tornado in June 2010. (Credit: Michael Mancino/ Federal Emergency Management Agency via Wikimedia Commons)

The number of mobile homes in the U.S. has skyrocketed over the last 60 years to around 9 million — and that’s not a good trend as climate change potentially boosts severe weather incidents and in particular, tornadoes.

As a result, the chance of “massive property damage and deaths is even higher in coming decades,” Michigan State University says in a new study.

The U.S. is already the most tornado-prone country in the world with an average of 1,200 per year, and MU scientists say a warming climate will fuel more unstable weather.

“If the climatologists are right about the continuing effects of climate change,” said Mark Skidmore, a professor of economics and co-author of the study, “then people living in mobile homes could be particularly vulnerable to tornadoes in the years to come.”

Researchers said there were 2,447 tornado-related deaths from 1980 to 2014, mostly in the Midwest and Southeast. They found that counties with double the number of mobile homes compared to other homes had 62 percent more fatalities than other counties.

The number of mobile homes has increased from 315,218 in 1950 to 8.7 million in 2010. Florida has the highest number of mobile homes in the country, and the third-highest number of tornadoes annually.