El Niño likely to stretch into peak of the hurricane season, forecasters say

The weak El Niño in the tropical Pacific is likely to continue through the fall, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said Thursday in a forecast that has implications for the 2019 hurricane season.

Forecasters put summer El Niño chances at 65 percent, up from 60 percent in last month’s assessment, and 50-55 percent for fall, the agency’s first El Niño forecast for autumn. Since El Niño conditions have the effect of increasing wind shear in the Atlantic, it could keep tropical storm formation down into the peak of the season, which is August through October.

The Australia Bureau of Meteorology issues its updated El Niño outlook on Tuesday, but an analysis earlier this month predicted that warmer than average Pacific temperatures will “remain at El Niño levels at least to mid-year.”

Hurricane forecasters have been predicting a slightly below average hurricane season for 2019.

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RECORD WATCH: The high in Marathon Thursday was 88, tying a record for the date, originally set in 2008.

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Sunday panhandle storms

(Image credit: NWS-Tallahassee)

Strong storms are possible in the Florida panhandle on Sunday, NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center says.

Most of the western and central portions of the panhandle are under a “Slight” risk for severe weather — one step up from Marginal. But an “Enhanced” risk was posted for parts of Alabama and Georgia just north of the panhandle.

Most of the northern and central Florida peninsula are at risk for garden variety thunderstorms. South Florida was left out of the risk area completely on Friday, although forecasters said a thunderstorm or two “can’t be ruled out.”

The front that’s poised to bring the severe weather risk may deliver some slightly cooler air to the peninsula early next week, but it won’t last long, according to the National Weather Service.

“Any cooling and drying will be modest and short-lived as southeasterly flow will return by Wednesday,” NWS forecasters in Miami said Friday.

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DOOMED ON THE MOON: Israel’s SpaceIL mission to the moon — a private company’s effort to land a spacecraft on the surface — ended in disappointment Thursday when the ship crash-landed. The lunar lander, called Beresheet, had been tasked with carrying out scientific measurements.

“As the spacecraft approached the moon, SpaceIL lost contact with Beresheet several times,” The Jerusalem Post reported Friday. “The scientists kept hope as the connection was restored, but just minutes before the spacecraft was supposed to touch down, contact was lost once again and it crashed on the moon.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Israel would keep trying.

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Rains wash away all South Florida drought concerns

The Abnormally Dry conditions that have been plaguing South Florida during the winter and early spring have been officially wiped off the map, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported Thursday.

But dry conditions linger in Brevard and Volusia County in East-Central Florida.

The Drought Monitor said Moderate Drought continues in the western Florida panhandle, while the northern tier of Florida counties remain Abnormally Dry.

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JAX boat show weather

(Image credit: NWS-Jacksonville)

HOT FOR THE YACHTS: The forecast is for partly sunny conditions with a steamy high near 88 for the Jacksonville In-Water Boat Show this weekend at Metropolitan Park. But there’s a chance of thunderstorms after 2 p.m. on Sunday. The National Weather Service office will have a booth staffed with meteorologists from the Jacksonville office to answer weather-related questions.

The Storm Prediction Center, meanwhile, has placed the western and central panhandle under a Slight Risk of severe storms on Sunday as the next cold front enters the state.

Rain chances rise to 30 percent all the way down to the southern peninsula.

“This cold front will bring only slightly less warm conditions and somewhat drier weather for Tuesday, before southeasterly winds, moisture, and more above normal temperatures return for the latter half of the week,” National Weather Service forecasters in Miami said Thursday.

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RECORD WATCH: Wednesday was the first day in April that no weather records were set or tied in Marathon. The city in the Middle Keys tied or set temperature records for the first eight days, and a rainfall record was set for the ninth day of the month on Tuesday.

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(Image credit: NOAA/ NCEI)

HERE’S A SWITCH: Usually climatologists are talking about record warmth. But it turns out that nationwide, March was the 44th coolest on record in the U.S. in 125 years of record keeping, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information said this week. Florida had slightly above average minimum temperatures, but close to average temperatures overall.

Only Arizona and New Mexico had above average temperatures, while Washington, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Kentucky had below average temperatures.

However, Florida has had its ninth-warmest year so far (January through March), according to the NCEI analysis.

Nationally, “the year to date (January-March) is running just below average, as the 61st coldest in 125 years of record keeping,” Bob Henson noted in a Weather Underground Category 6 post. “The last time that the contiguous U.S. got off to this cool of a start was in 2014.”

“The bulk of the heartland cold in 2019 unfolded during February and March, ushered in by the ‘polar vortex’ outbreak at the end of January,” he said.

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ONE SMALL STEP FOR A ROBOT: The first private company is scheduled to land a space craft on the moon today, carrying with it a robot that will measure the magnetic field.

The venture was engineered by an Israeli company called SpaceIL which will live-stream the landing at 3 p.m. Thursday.

The lander is called Beresheet after the first word of the Hebrew Bible, which means “in the beginning.” It went into lunar orbit on April 4.

Marathon posts record rainfall; forecasters predict 90 in Orlando by Friday

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The Florida peninsula was drying out on Wednesday from the northwest as the moisture that caused Tuesday’s rains moved off into the Atlantic. (Image credit: NOAA)

RAINFALL REPORT: The system from the Gulf of Mexico delivered some soaking rains to extreme southern Florida and the Keys on Tuesday, but many people in areas to the north just had wet windshields — or posted precipitation goose-eggs.

Even official totals in Miami-Dade and Broward counties were modest. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International picked up just 0.14 of an inch while Miami International reported 0.43 of an inch.

Naples measured 0.28 of an inch and only a trace of rain fell in West Palm Beach.

The South Florida rainfall winner was Homestead in Miami-Dade, where 1.63 inches was reported to the National Weather Service in Miami.

The heaviest rain seemed to hit from Homestead south into the Keys. Marathon picked up 0.95 of an inch, which set a daily rainfall record for April 9. The previous record was 0.54 of an inch set in 1993. Interesting to note that this was the 10th record in a row for Marathon this month — temperature records were set every day prior to the rainfall record.

Most locations in the Keys reported around a half-inch or a little more.

Southwest Florida, including Sarasota, reported about a quarter of an inch through CoCoRaHS, although an inland observer in Hillsborough County found more than a half-inch in his backyard bucket.

Officially, the National Weather Service measured 0.34 of an inch in Tampa, and 0.27 of an inch in Punta Gorda.

On the East-Central coast, Daytona Beach received 0.28 of an inch but Melbourne reported just a trace of rain and Vero Beach was dry.

In North Florida, Jacksonville received 0.31 of an inch and Gainesville measured a tenth of an inch.

Scattered showers are possible on Wednesday before things start to dry out Wednesday night and into Thursday, the National Weather Service said.

Next up: Near-record warm temperatures up and down the peninsula. Friday’s forecast highs include 90 in Orlando; 88 in Tampa; 90 in Fort Myers; and upper 80s on Florida’s southeast coast.

Forecasters see sizzling weekend weather after storms exit peninsula

Continental US - Shortwave Window - IR

Storms from the Gulf of Mexico were poised to move into the Florida peninsula early Tuesday morning. There was a “Marginal” risk of severe weather, according to NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center. (Image credit: NOAA)

Following Tuesday’s nasty weather — with rain possibilities stretching into Wednesday — the end-of-week weather story can be summed up in one word: Heat.

From South Florida and the Keys north to Orlando and over to Brooksville, the National Weather Service is forecasting highs near 90 over the weekend.

Although Tuesday’s wet conditions were associated with a cold front rolling across the peninsula from the Gulf of Mexico, there’s no cold air behind the front, the National Weather Service said.

“Temperatures on either side of it will remain above normal,” NWS forecasters said in their daily analysis from Miami. “Naples has been setting daily maxima records since the weekend and it appears record warm minima were set Monday along the east coast.

“This trend of near record-breaking warmth may persist through the bulk of the week, especially with a couple of days of westerly flow reducing cooling impact of Atlantic breeze across the east coast urban corridor.”

They added: “With humid conditions and heat indices likely reaching into the 90s Friday through the weekend, the warm temperatures may be the main weather story.”

Some cooler air may arrive early next week, according to forecasts.

Meanwhile, a lot of records were set or tied on Monday. Here’s the rundown:

  • The low in Marathon was a sultry 81 degrees. That easily smashed the previous record warm low for April 8 of 78, set one year ago. Marathon has set or tied a record warm high or record warm minimum every day so far this month. Also, 81 is the warmest low temperature recorded so far in 2019 for anywhere in Florida.
  • Key West’s low was 79, which busted the old record low for the date of 78, set in 2011.
  • The high was 89 in Naples, tying a record set in 2015. It was the third day in a row a record was set or tied in Naples.
  • The low in Fort Lauderdale was 77, which broke the record warm low of 76 set in 2003.
  • Monday’s low was 75 in West Palm Beach, tying a record warm low set in 2015.
  • In East-Central Florida, Melbourne set a record warm low with 72, beating the old record of 71 set in 1994.
  • Vero Beach tied a record warm low with 73. It was originally set in 2003.

RAINFALL REPORT: Most of the action on Monday was in the Daytona Beach area, where some CoCoRaHS observers reported more than 2 inches. In Inland Volusia County near Deland, an observer checked in with 1.40 inches.

Officially, Daytona Beach recorded 1.75 inches, according to the National Weather Service in Melbourne.

Parts of eastern Flagler County received up to 1.31 inches; and northeastern Sumter County near The Villages reported up to an inch.

To the south in Okeechobee County, an observer near Basinger measured 1.25 inches.

CFL high end rain chances

PREDICTED PRECIP: High end rain chances in Central Florida, above, and high-end chances in South Florida, below. The National Weather Service said Tuesday’s totals would be very localized. (Image credits: NWS-Melbourne, above; NWS-Miami, below)

SFL high end rain chances

Stormy weather on the way; Fort Myers has first 90-degree day

Gulf satellite

Blustery conditions were moving into the Florida panhandle on Monday and were forecast to spread over the peninsula on Tuesday.  (Image credit: NOAA)

SOUTH FLORIDA: “Periods of heavy rain are likely, especially Tuesday afternoon and evening when the storm threat is maximized, which could lead to localized ponding of water in poor drainage and urbanized areas,” National Weather Service forecasters said in Miami on Monday.

CENTRAL FLORIDA: Forecasters in Melbourne are predicting “bands of showers/storms rapidly crossing west-to-east over the peninsula.” Around three-quarters of an inch are expected from Daytona Beach to Titusville, with slightly lower amounts to the south.

WEST-CENTRAL FLORIDA: “Deep layer shear and sufficient instability suggest the potential for a few organized storms and some potential for isolated stronger wind gusts,” NWS forecasters in Tampa said.

NORTH FLORIDA: On Monday night and Tuesday, forecasters in Jacksonville are calling for “scattered strong storms area-wide with isolated severe storms through the day, with damaging winds the main threat, but large hail/isolated tornado cannot be ruled out.”

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The Florida peninsula was under a “Marginal” threat for severe weather on Tuesday, NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center said. (Image credit: NOAA/ SPC)

Wet weather was already impacting the panhandle Sunday night into early Monday morning.

An observer for CoCoRaHS near Navarre, in Santa Rosa County in the western Florida panhandle just east of Pensacola, reported 1.71 inches of rain through 7 a.m. CDT Monday. Santa Rosa, along with Escambia to the west and Okaloosa to the east, were designated with Moderate Drought last week by the U.S. Drought Monitor, so the rainfall should be welcome.

North of the coast, observers in Escambia County reported around a half-inch of rain.

In the southern peninsula, an observer near Naples reported around a quarter of an inch of sea breeze generated rainfall on Sunday. Officially, Naples Municipal Airport measured 0.09 of an inch, according to the National Weather Service in Miami.

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RECORD WATCH: Fort Myers scored its first 90-degree temperature of 2019 on Sunday with a high of 91, which busted the record high for the date. The previous record high for April 7 was 89, last set in 2015.

Naples had its second 90-degree high in a row, which tied a record high set in 2011.

Key West set a record warm low on Sunday with 78, beating the old record of 77 set in 2014. And Marathon continued its unbroken April streak of record-setting temperatures with a low of only 80. That broke the old record warm low of 77 set in 2014. Marathon has tied or broken record highs, and record warm lows, every day so far this month.

It was also the first 80-degree low of the year anywhere in Florida.

 

Naples, Gainesville post record highs; rain set to move in on Tuesday

Heat warnings

THE HEAT IS ON: You know we’re getting into the warm season in Florida when National Weather Service offices start issuing heat warnings. This one was posted by the NWS office in Ruskin on its Facebook page on Sunday. (Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

RECORD WATCH: Naples hit 90 degrees Saturday, breaking the previous record for the date of 89 set in 2003. It’s the second 90-degree high in Naples this year — the city also reached 90 on February 19. Before this year, the earliest Naples has ever reached 90 was on March 8, which occurred in 1974.

Gainesville was record warm Saturday with a high of 90. That beat the standing record of 89 set in 1999. It was the second 90-degree high in 2019 — the city recorded a high of 91 on February 23.

Saturday’s heat index reading in Naples and Gainesville was 93.

Saturday’s low in Marathon was 79, which busted the record for warmest minimum temperature for the date, previously 78 set in 1982. Marathon has a set record highs — or record warm lows — every day so far this month.

In South Florida, Immokalee also had a high of 90 on Saturday and Zoo Miami reported an unofficial high of 90.

Naples — and possibly other West Coast areas — may see another 90 degree day on Sunday, National Weather Service forecasters said.

RAIN ON THE WAY: “Expect a wet and unsettled pattern starting Monday night and lingering through at least Wednesday morning,” NWS forecasters in Miami said Sunday. Some areas of South and Central Florida could see as much as 2 inches of rain through Wednesday, but these are “high-end” amounts.

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DON’T BLAME GLOBAL WARMING: An ice shelf in Antarctica twice the size of New York City will likely break off of the Brunt Ice Shelf in the next couple of months, British researchers report. They are so certain of the break that they’ve relocated a research station to a safer spot.

Two cracks that have been growing over the past seven years are poised to meet, they said.

“Satellite images of the changes in the ice shelf have been shared online and there has been much speculation about the cause of this movement and the impact the iceberg will have when it breaks away,” said Professor Hilmar Gudmundsson of Northumbria University in the UK.

“However, what many people do not realize is that this is a natural process and something which has happened time and again. We recognize that climate change is a serious problem which is having an impact around the world, and particularly in the Antarctic.

“However, there is no indication from our research that this particular event is related to climate change.”

Florida set to sizzle with first 90-degree highs in central, interior areas

FLORIDA SPRINGS INTO SUMMER: It’s the first weekend of the year with widespread forecast highs of 90 degrees around the peninsula. Orlando is expected to hit 90 on Sunday — which would be the first 90-degree temperature of the year in Orlando.

Arcadia is also expected to post a 90-degree high on Saturday, the first of the season.

North Florida and most of the coastal areas should reach the high 80s both days of the weekend.

ECFL Saturday

(Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

After a hot afternoon, storms with lightning strikes and gusty winds are possible in Volusia County and interior areas of East-Central Florida, the National Weather Service in Melbourne said.

A few 90-degree readings already popped up on Friday, including a high of 90 in Immokalee, in interior Collier County, according to the National Weather Service. Other 90-degree highs were reported by observers in suburban Naples.

Palmdale, west of Lake Okeechobee, hit a high of 91 on Friday.

Temperatures are expected to dip early next week when some rain moves into the peninsula, but then bounce back up in time for next weekend.

“It is still a little early to tell how strong the convection will be,” forecasters at the National Weather Service in Miami said Saturday.

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RECORD WATCH: Marathon tied a record high Friday with 88, matching a mark set in 1993. The city also tied a record warm low with 79, matching the record set in 2017. Marathon has set or tied record highs every day so far this month.

TROPICS WATCH: Tropical Storm Risk, the UK organization made up of meteorologists, insurance experts and researchers, issued its first 2019 hurricane forecast Thursday.

It echoed the one issued by Colorado State University earlier in the day, calling for 12 named storms, five hurricanes and two major hurricanes Category 3 or stronger. But, like CSU, forecasters predicted that Accumulated Cyclone Energy for the season — a measure of the strength and duration of all storms — would be below normal. They forecast a total ACE of 81; an average season has 106.

CSU forecast 13, five and two with an ACE of 80.