COLD FRONT WATCH: After bringing the first real taste of winter to the Midwest, the front should begin affecting Florida’s weather on Wednesday, with cool and dreary weather moving into the panhandle, according to the National Weather Service.
So far, here are the lowest temps that could show up across the state, from the panhandle down to the Keys:
Friday night/ Saturday morning: Tallahassee to Lake City, mid-30s; Jacksonville, 40; Gainesville, upper 30s; Orlando, mid-40s; Tampa: upper 40s; Vero Beach, low 50s.
Saturday night/ Sunday morning: Fort Pierce: Low 50s; Okeechobee: mid-40s; Belle Glade: Low 50s; Fort Myers: Low 50s; West Palm Beach: Upper 50s; Fort Lauderdale: Upper 50s to near 60; Miami: Low 60s; Key Largo: Upper 50s; Marathon: Low 60s; Key West: Low 60s.
The cool weather is expected to settle in for most of the following week, followed by a weekend warmup.
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for a return to above-normal temperatures through most of the Florida peninsula for the second half of the month. That outlook, issued Friday, seems to be at odds with the longer-range AccuWeather forecast for the end of the month. Stay tuned.
Will December end in Florida on a warm note? The Climate Prediction Center says it’s likely. (Credit: NOAA/ CPC)
The seven-day South Florida forecast shows a cool-down at the end of the week. (Credit: NWS-Miami)
Some people like to call it the Arctic Express. Polar Vortex sounds more 21st Century. But anyway you slice it or dice it, a mid-December cold snap seems to be in the offing, so get your sweaters ready if you live in Florida — and your cotton-lined field coat if you live north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Sunday’s run of the GFS forecast model shows frigid air streaming into the Central and Eastern U.S. starting around mid-week, with several other blasts of finger-numbing temps following up over the next week to 10 days.
By mid-winter standards, it shouldn’t be anything too drastic, but it won’t be ideal Frisbee-throwing weather, either. Lows should be in the teens in Chicago by next weekend, and this will likely be the pattern into the following week, according to forecasters.
In Florida, Orlando is looking at lows in the 40s and low 50s with the arrival of the cold air, ditto for Tampa. In fact, AccuWeather’s forecast low in Tampa for Saturday, December 16 is 42 degrees with a forecast high on Sunday of 62.
South Florida should see lows in the 50s and highs that just nick 70 degrees.
It will even be chilly in the Keys — by Florida Keys standards — with lows edging down into the low 60s and highs reaching the low- or mid-70s.
Before the cool-down, Central and South Florida are in for a couple of drippy days on Thursday and Friday, according to the National Weather Service. Cloudy and cool with drizzle isn’t the best forecast for outdoor activities, but when the front actually pushes it off-shore, it should be sunny — but crisp.
(Image credit: NWS-Key West)
Look … up in the sky … is it a bird? Is it a plane? No — it’s Supermoon!
Along with Arctic Express and Polar Vortex, that’s another term that pops up in the popular media. A Supermoon is on nature’s agenda for Sunday night, which means it will be 16 percent brighter than your average lunar event. That’s because it’s closer to the Earth than any other full moon of the year, a result of its elliptical orbit.
The moon will appear full through Monday evening. The best times to view it are at moon rise and moon set.
Central Florida had an unusually warm and wet autumn — September through November, the National Weather Service said. (Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)
Melbourne had its wettest fall on record with a whopping 36.97 inches of rain, the National Weather Service said Friday.
Rainfall was an incredible 21.39 inches above normal for the three months of the fall season, which runs from September 1 to November 30. The previous record was 32.95 inches set in 1999.
The record was set this fall despite a relatively dry November. Melbourne measured just 2.59 inches, which was 0.29 of an inch below normal. However, the city racked up 13.44 inches in October and a whopping 20.94 in September, due at large part to Hurricane Irma, which dumped 10.23 inches on September 10.
To the south, Miami tied the record for its warmest fall ever — with an overall temperature (taking into account the highs and the lows) of 81. November was unusually warm in Miami, with temps coming in 2.4 degrees above normal.
October was 0.9 degrees above average and September was 1.9 degrees above normal. Average highs: November, 84; October, 87 September, 91.
A lot of that record warmth occurred at night. The city had seven record-warm nights in October and two in September and five record highs in September.
DECEMBER TO REMEMBER: The coldest temperature ever recorded in December in Key West — 44 degrees — occurred 141 years ago on Saturday. That mark was tied on December 29, 1894; December 27, 1985, and on Christmas Eve, 1989. The coldest temperature ever measured in Key West was 41 degrees on January 12, 1886; and on January 13, 1981.
HURRICANE SEASON IN A NUTSHELL: NOAA released this satellite view of the 2017 hurricane season, which ended on Thursday. The animation shows development of all 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes and six major hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin. (Credit: NOAA)
The eastern U.S. is forecast to be colder than average in December. (Credit: NOAA/ CPC)
It was an unsually warm November throughout Florida, but a round of seasonably cool temperatures may be on the way for the new month.
Central Florida had the warmest anomalies compared with seasonal norms in November, but every area, from the North to the South and into the Keys, was ahead of the game.
Precipitation was also mostly above normal, but there were a few notable exceptions — Orlando had a 2-inch precipitation shortfall and West Palm Beach had a 2.06-inch deficit.
Looking at temperatures first, Melbourne won the cigar, coming in 4.1 degrees above normal for the month. On the other side of the state, Tampa was 3 degrees above average.
Here’s the temp/ precip blow-by-blow: Miami, plus-2.4 degrees, plus 1.14 inches; Naples, plus-1.9 degrees; minus 1.95 inches; Fort Lauderdale, average temps; 2.52 precipitation surplus. West Palm Beach was 2.6 degrees above average.
Keys: Key West, plus-1.5 degrees with a rainfall shortage of 0.79 of an inch; Marathon, plus-2 degrees, minus 2.11 inches on rainfall.
Central Florida: Fort Pierce, plus 1.7 degrees; plus 0.10 rainfall; Vero Beach, plus 2.0 degrees; plus 1.45 inches rainfall; Melbourne, plus 4.1 degrees; 0.29 inch precipitation shortfall; Orlando, plus-1.4 degrees; 2 inches short on November rainfall; Daytona Beach, plus 2.3 degrees, minus 1.05 inches.
North Florida: Jacksonville, plus 2.9 degrees; plus 0.50 of an inch; Gainesville, plus .8 degrees; plus 0.70 of an inch;
West Coast: Tampa, plus 3.0; minus 1.43 inches (Tampa received just 0.12 of an inch for all of November). Fort Myers, 2.3 above average; rainfall shortfall 1.57 inches.
DECEMBER OUTLOOK: The cold front due to roll down the Florida peninsula late next week may not be as potent as previously advertised. “Temperatures are not expected to change much, except for a slight cool down Friday early morning,” National Weather Service forecasters in Miami said Friday.
Forecasters in Melbourne are expecting lows in the 40s next Friday night with highs in the 60s. “Of course, the caveat here is that day 6-8 forecasts are fraught with uncertainty and model continuity that far out is problematic more often than not,” they said.
Friday’s run of the GFS showed a big cool-down for all of Florida starting next Friday through the following Tuesday, December 12.
By the way, normal temperatures in Miami go from 80-degree highs on December 1 to 77 on December 31, with lows falling from 66 to 60. In West Palm Beach, highs go from 78 to 75 and lows from 63 to 57.
Three Atlantic hurricanes were lined up on September 8 . From left to right: Hurricane Katia, which made landfall in Mexico; Hurricane Irma, which pounded Florida two days later; and Hurricane Jose, nearing the Lesser Antilles. (Image credit: NOAA)
The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season heads for the history books Thursday, finally gone but never forgotten.
It ends with record property damage of $368 billion, and at hundreds of deaths — perhaps many more since Hurricane Maria took such a toll on Puerto Rico that the number of fatalities remains in dispute.
The season’s emotional toll will remain incalculable.
The final total of 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes and six major hurricanes made 2017 much above average, but numbers alone don’t come close to describing the trail of catastrophe it left in its wake. The peak of the season from late August to the end of September was so brutal and other years — even the infamous 2005 — pale in comparison.
September generated the most major hurricane days — 17.5 — of any calendar month in the Atlantic on record, Colorado State University hurricane researcher Philip Klotzbach said.
The 2017 season “will end up a top 10 season by most tropical cyclone metrics,” Klotzbach said on Twitter. The year had 19.25 major hurricane days — 494 percent over the median of 3.9 from 1981 to 2010, he said, and named storm days (91.25) was 152 percent of the median.
September broke records for named storm days (53.5); hurricane days (40.25); major hurricane days (18); and Accumulated Cyclone Energy (175), he said.
It was a busy early season — but pretty much par for the course — until mid-August, when some eye-popping tropical activity began. Tropical Storm Emily did cause some havoc in Florida when it made landfall on the West-Central peninsula with winds of 45 mph, and caused a tornado near Bradenton. Emily also brought heavy rain to parts of Florida’s East Coast.
But the real misery train began pulling out of the station on August 24, the 25th anniversary of Category 5 Hurricane Andrew’s strike on South Florida. August 24 was the day Tropical Storm Harvey began rapidly intensifying in the Gulf of Mexico’s Bay of Campeche. It reached Category 4 intensity late the next day.
Forecast models suggested an almost unbelievable scenario was about to unfold: Harvey would make landfall on the Texas Coast as a powerful Category 4 storm, and then stall out for days as atmospheric steering currents collapsed.
AccuWeather summed things up with the headline: “Hurricane Harvey poised to unleash flooding disaster on Texas into early next week.”
“Some communities could be under water for days,” the commercial forecasting service said.
Harvey was still a named storm 117 hours after landfall, as it drifted back into the Gulf of moved toward the Louisiana coast. Up to 60 inches of rain was recorded in several parts of coastal Texas, and Houston’s airport officially measured 37 inches.
The season’s follow-up act — Hurricane Irma — looked like trouble from the moment it formed far out in the Atlantic. Major forecast models predicted as early as August 31 that Irma would hit the Florida Keys or peninsula.
Irma reached Category 5 strength as it battered the Caribbean, and both Barbuda and Saint Martin were reported to be 95 percent destroyed by the storm.
It made landfall on Cudjoe Key on September 10 with 130 mph winds and then clobbered Marco Island off Florida’s Southwest Coast with 115 mph winds.
On Saturday, September 9, the National Hurricane Center put the entire coast of the Florida peninsula — from Jacksonville on the East Coast down through the Keys and up the West Coast to just south of Tallahassee — under a Hurricane Warning. Even the Florida panhandle was under a Hurricane Watch or Tropical Storm Watch.
Thousands of residents evacuated as the NHC forecast a major hurricane to slide up Florida’s East Coast, then up the spine of the state, and finally up the West Coast. But by the time the track was set for the West Coast, Florida’s roads were already clogged in a nightmarish evacuation scene that lasted for several days.
The highest wind gust from Irma was measured at 120 mph in Big Pine Key, but Irma cut a path of destruction up the entire Florida peninsula and even caused damage in Georgia as a tropical storm.
Hurricane Maria, the 10th most intense hurricane on record, devastated Dominica in the Caribbean and went on to cause catastrophic damage in Puerto Rico, where power outages are expected to continue well into next year.
Hurricane Nate made landfall on the Northern Gulf Coast as a Category 1 hurricane on October 8, and the development of Hurricane Ophelia several days later gave 2017 an unprecedented 10 hurricanes in a row.
Although the final storm — during the official season, at least — was Tropical Storm Rina — the last system to impact Florida was Tropical Storm Philippe on October 28-29. Philippe spawned a tornado near West Palm Beach and dropped more than 6 inches of rain.
“While the season was very active, it will be most remembered for several hurricanes that devastated portions of the continental United States as well as islands in the Caribbean and other parts of the tropical Atlantic,” Klotzbach said in the newly-released CSU post-season report.
“Hurricane Harvey brought epic flooding to the Houston metropolitan area, while Irma and Maria both brought devastation to islands throughout the Caribbean and tropical Atlantic.
“Irma also made landfall in the Florida Keys as a Category 4, pummeling the Keys and bringing considerable damage to mainland Florida as well. The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was also the first season on record (since 1851) to have two Category 4 hurricanes make continental United States landfall in the same year (Harvey and Irma).”
Officially, the National Weather Service said Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport picked up 0.53 of an inch while Miami International reported .40 of an inch. No rainfall was recorded at Palm Beach International, and West Palm Beach is winding up November with a precipitation deficit of 1.79 inches. Naples has a deficit of 1.82 inches.
Miami and Fort Lauderdale, on the other hand, have built up significant surpluses this month.
Light amounts were observed elsewhere on Florida’s East Coast Tuesday, except that almost an inch fell in northeastern Martin County and 1.62 inches was observed in southeastern Indian River County.
The Treasure Coast has been running slight precipitation surpluses, but Orlando has a monthly rainfall deficit of 1.83 inches.
CHILLING OUT IN KEY WEST: Tuesday marked the anniversary of the coldest November high ever recorded in Key West — 61 degrees. The record was originally set in 1885, and was tied in 1903 and again in 1914. Temperature records began in Key West in 1872. (Credit: NWS-Key West)
RECORD WATCH: Tuesday’s low in West Palm Beach, 75, tied a record for warmest minimum temperature for the date, previously set in 1990.
POLAR VORTEX WATCH: Wednesday’s run of the GFS depicts a major sweep of cold air from Canada barreling its way into the Gulf Coast and the Florida peninsula the middle of next week. The Eastern U.S. and Florida remain in the grip of unusually cold air through at least Saturday, December 9, followed by another push of Arctic air late in the weekend.
The forecast model has overnight temperatures in the low 40s over coastal areas of South and Central Florida during this period with highs edging only into the low 60s.
Under this scenario, single digits would be headed for the Upper Midwest as far south as the western suburbs of Chicago, and the Northeast would see teens.
Since the forecast run is still seven-ten days out, expect changes with subsequent runs of the long-range models.
Give your irrigation system a rest if you live in South Florida.
Rain chances jump to 60-70 percent Tuesday and Wednesday across the area as the remnants of an old cold front move north over the peninsula, the National Weather Service says. Most of the precipitation, though, is expected to be confined to the East Coast.
Breezy conditions are also forecast to move into Florida and the National Weather Service in Key West issued a Small Craft Advisory for the Florida Straits.
Expect an end-of-the-week cold front, NWS forecasters in Miami said. “Winds will shift more northerly by Friday but quickly return northeast by the weekend with a surge of dry air mass providing pleasant weekend weather across South Florida. While the front may drop temperatures slightly Saturday, do not expect any dramatic cold temperatures with this.”
POLAR VORTEX ALERT: Well, actually it’s not an alert at this point, but there have been suggestions that Arctic air may be driven south into the Eastern U.S. with a major pattern change the second week of December. Long-range forecasts are dicey and can change by the day, but the GFS has been hinting at a surge of more wintry air the second or third week of the new month.
Looking at Tuesday’s run of the GFS, cold temperature anomalies are in place for the East Coast the early to middle part of next week, followed by another round of above-normal temperatures for the December 9-10 weekend, not only in Florida but most of the Central and Eastern U.S.
A loaded-for-bear cold front pushes southeast the following week, though, and this one looks much more formidable. This may be when winter 2017-2018 actually gets down to business.
In the meantime, record warm temperatures have occurred in the West. The Denver Post reports that “People threw Frisbees, went shirtless and guzzled water in downtown Denver” as the temperature soared to 81 — the warmest the city has ever been in November.
NWS forecasters in Tampa noted it was warmer in Denver Monday than it was in Tampa, where the high was 80.
“They certainly surpassed us today, but looks as through their luck runs out tomorrow.,” the forecasters said on their Facebook page. “Quite the change in air mass coming for our friends to the west.”