Better beach weather arrives as tropical disturbance heads out to sea

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Invest 99L appeared to be bearing down on the Bahamas Saturday, but forecasters were predicting a sharp-right turn into the open Atlantic. (Credit: NOAA)

Disturbance 99L looked to be finally getting its act together after a  leisurely 10-day cruise across the Atlantic Ocean. There’s a good chance it will become the season’s seventh named storm, Gert, forecasters said Saturday.

But if it does in fact spin up — the National Hurricane Center is giving it a 60-70 percent chance over the next two to five days — it is likely to be merely a season statistic rather than a storm that makes Big News. Forecast models are fairly unanimous in taking the system northwest, north and then northeast out to sea, splitting the uprights between Bermuda and the U.S. East Coast.

After that, models show another long-tracking system popping up in the eastern Atlantic toward the end of next week, and perhaps getting some traction as it nears the Lesser Antilles the week of August 21.

The GFS predicts — for now, at least — that this system will follow the path of 99L and curve out to sea well east of the U.S. coast. We’ll keep fingers crossed, since by that time we’ll be nearing Labor Day weekend, when historically some of the most infamous hurricanes have occurred.

The next name on the Atlantic list after Gert is Harvey.

How does this season compare so far? Last year around this time we were about to deal with Major Hurricane Gaston (August 22) , which did not affect land; and Hurricane Hermine, which made landfall in the Florida Panhandle on September 2 as a Category 1.

The only other storms to impact Florida last year were Tropical Storm Julia, which in mid-September achieved the rare distinction of spinning up over land near Jacksonville after running up Florida’s East Coast as a depression; and early October’s way-too-close-for-comfort Hurricane Matthew.

This year the NHC is using the same name list as 2005, the busiest season on record. That year, Franklin formed July 21; Gert formed July 23 and Harvey formed on August 2.

RECORD WATCH: Daytona Beach and Orlando tied record warm lows Friday with 78 and 77, respectively.

Beach weather

SUNSCREEN REQUIRED: After a wet week, better beach weather arrives for the weekend, but forecasters say a few storms are still possible. (Credit: NWS-Miami)

Bahamas low socks Fort Lauderdale with record rainfall

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The National Weather Service in Miami posted this record rainfall note for Fort Lauderdale Thursday morning. More rain fell later for a daily total of 3.43 inches.  (Credit: NWS-Miami)

A low pressure system swept into Florida from the Bahamas on Thursday, delivering record rainfall to Fort Lauderdale and impressive totals up and down the East Coast.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport measured 3.43 inches, beating the old precipitation maximum for the date of 3.35 inches set in 2003. Most of the rain fell between 8-10 a.m.

With all the rain and cloud cover, Fort Lauderdale’s high was only 85 on Thursday, a record cool high temperature record for the date. The previous record was 86 set in 2012.

Miami reported 0.94 of an inch and 1.34 inches fell in West Palm Beach, while Naples reported just 0.02 of an inch. An observer in Boca Raton reported 2.76 inches.

In East-Central Florida, Melbourne had 0.13 of an inch; Vero Beach reported 0.95 of an inch. Just 0.05 of an inch fell in Fort Pierce, but more than 2 inches soaked parts of southeastern St. Lucie County.

Up to half an inch fell in parts of Collier, Lee and Charlotte counties on the Southwest Coast, while in the Keys just a trace was recorded at Marathon and Key West picked up 0.03 of an inch.

More rain — possibly heavy — could fall Friday as the low moves slowly north along the Atlantic Coast, forecasters said. The National Hurricane Center was still giving the area a 10 percent chance of developing into a tropical system, although forecasters said upper-level winds weren’t favorable.

Meanwhile, tropical disturbance 99L — which has been ambling across the Atlantic for more than a week now — was given a 30 percent chance of development by Sunday and a 50 percent chance by mid-week. Either way, it looks like it will be an out-to-sea storm and no problem for the U.S. East Coast.

The NHC doesn’t have anything else brewing in the Atlantic, and forecast models show a fairly quiet week to 10 days.

As of Friday, we are four weeks away from the statistical peak of the hurricane season, which is September 10.

NOAA ups 2017 hurricane season forecast

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There’s now a 60 percent chance of an above normal hurricane season, NOAA said Wednesday. (Credit: NOAA)

NOAA issued its updated hurricane season forecast Wednesday, calling for up to 19 named storms, nine hurricanes and five major hurricanes. That’s up from a maximum 17 named storms forecast in May.

If disturbance 99L develops east the Bahamas as some forecasts suggest, and becomes Tropical Storm Gert, that would mean up to 12 storms could form before the season ends November 30. It would take us all the way up to Tropical Storm Tammy.

Franklin has been the only hurricane so far so that would leave as many as eight yet to come, based on the high-end of the new NOAA forecast. Franklin made landfall overnight in the State of Veracruz in Mexico as a Category 1.

An average season has 12 named storms.

“We’re now entering the peak of the season when the bulk of the storms usually form,” Gerry Bell, NOAA’s lead seasonal hurricane forecaster said. “The wind and air patterns in the area of the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean where many storms develop are very conducive to an above-normal season. This is in part because the chance of an El Niño forming, which tends to prevent storms from strengthening, has dropped significantly from May.”

Interestingly, Thursday’s early run of the GFS showed no tropical development in the Atlantic through at least August 26, a week before Labor Day weekend. The European (ECMWF) shows an all-clear through at least August 20, and the CMC is the only major model holding on to 99L — taking it harmlessly out to sea — with nothing of note after that over the next 10 days.

The Navy’s model, NAVGEM, dropoed 99L and the National Hurricane Center lowered chances of development for the system in its morning tropical weather outlook from 50 percent to 40 percent.

A low pressure system moving into South Florida from the Bahamas Thursday was forecast to dump heavy rain on the southern peninsula, but it looks to be a one-day event, according to the National Weather Service in Miami. And precipitation should drop off toward the north, with the bulk of it over South Florida and the Keys.

August has been a relatively dry month, so far, up and down the peninsula. Jacksonville is ahead on rainfall for the month, but most of the East Coast cities from Daytona Beach to Miami have rainfall deficits of up to 1.5 inches, and the Keys have built up a shortfall as well. Through Wednesday, Marathon had only recorded 0.02 of an inch of rain all month.

Most of the West Coast is short of normal rainfall as well, Tampa and Naples being exceptions.

RECORD WATCH: Miami booked a record warm low temperature Wednesday with 83, beating the previous mark of 82 set in 2009. Record warm lows were tied in Fort Lauderdale (83); and West Palm Beach (83).

Franklin becomes first hurricane; Bahamas low heads for Florida

Hurricane Franklin

FRANKLIN IS FIRST: The  Gulf of Mexico storm became the 2017 Atlantic season’s first hurricane at 5 p.m. EDT, the National Hurricane Center said, with winds of 75 mph. Further strengthening was forecast before the storm wallops the East Coast of Mexico early Thursday, forecasters said. They were predicting an 85-mph hurricane at landfall. (Credit: NOAA/ NHC)

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UPDATE: The low over the Bahamas, marked in yellow, was given a 10 percent chance of tropical development Wednesday afternoon by the National Hurricane Center. National Weather Service forecasters said the system will bring rain to the Florida peninsula on Thursday. Meanwhile, disturbance 99L was given a 50 percent chance of developing east of the Bahamas by early next week. (Credit: NHC)

An upper level low poised to sweep in from the Bahamas could bring more than an inch of needed rain to South Florida over the next couple of days, while forecasters cast a wary eye on tropical disturbance 99L to the east.

Rain chances shoot up to 70 percent on the southeast coast Wednesday night and into Thursday as the Bahamas low moves west-northwest over the southern part of the peninsula. Rain chances rise in Central Florida, too, but the better chances will be on the Treasure Coast and points south. West-Central Florida should be in line for some showers, too, south of I-4, according to the National Weather Service in Tampa.

The tropical wave east of the Lesser Antilles — a subject of speculation and debate by forecasters and weather watchers since moving off the coast of Africa a week ago on August 2 — showed signs of organizing Tuesday, and the National Hurricane Center upped its five-day chances of development into a depression or tropical storm to 40 percent.

Looking at the forecast models, the system appears to be no threat to Florida or the U.S. East Coast, since those that develop it have consistently called for the storm to sweep out to sea east of the Bahamas. Still scenarios can change quickly and National Weather Service forecasters in Miami noted Wednesday: “Residents and visitors of South Florida need to continue to monitor the latest information on the disturbance from the National Hurricane Center into early next week.”

RECORD WATCH: Melbourne and Vero Beach tied record warm lows Tuesday with 81 and 80 degrees, respectively.

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Franklin is forecast to make landfall early Thursday morning as a Category 1 hurricane. (Credit: NHC)

FRANKLIN POWERS UP: The storm was near hurricane strength Wednesday morning with winds of 70 mph, and it was likely to become the Atlantic’s first hurricane. Winds are expected to top out at 80 mph, making it a Category 1 storm.

In Mexico, hurricane watches were upped to hurricane warnings from Puerto de Veracruz to Tuxpan, and watches were extended from Tuxpan to Rio Panuco.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami were calling for up to 15 inches of rain with flash flooding and mudslides, and a storm surge of up to 4 feet above normal tides. That’s with hurricane conditions, meaning winds of up to 95 mph in a Category 1.

Interesting to note that based on climatology from 1966-2009, the average date of the season’s first hurricane is August 10, so Franklin could join the club one day early.

The last Colorado State University forecast called for eight hurricanes this year, so Franklin could be just the start of a long string that stretches into October or November.

Forecasters weigh tropical disturbance’s potential impact on Florida

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Next week’s weather in Florida is dependent on what happens with the tropical wave east of the Lesser Antilles. (Credit: NWS/ NHC)

The tropical wave designated Invest 99L has been tracked by the National Hurricane Center for almost a full week — since August 2, when it rolled off the coast of Africa.

It has waxed and waned since then, and various models have spun it up into a strong tropical storm or even a hurricane with some potential to slam the East Coast of the U.S.

The system struggled, though, and the GFS eventually dropped it. On Thursday, an interesting thing occurred: The respected European model (ECMWF) began forecasting development as it neared the Bahamas, and the ECMWF has continued to support at least a tropical depression or storm perhaps forming this weekend. It’s joined by the Canadian (CMC) and the Navy’s global forecast model.

What actually happens to the system will make a big difference to Florida’s weather next week, according to the National Weather Service in Miami. If the GFS is right and 99L remains a tropical wave, it’s likely to slide across the peninsula early next week. That would bring some needed rainfall to the area, but nothing more serious.

Tropical waves that do develop are usually pulled more toward the north, so if the ECMWF-CMC-NAVGEM scenario pans out, the disturbance — which would get the name Gert if it becomes a tropical storm — would probably stay east of the Bahamas and have few, if any, impacts on Florida.

National Weather Service forecasters said in their Tuesday discussion.: “Will keep an easterly wind flow over the area with the typical summer time weather pattern until the models become more in agreement on the strength and path of the disturbance.”

NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center shows more than 2 inches of rain falling across South Florida through next Tuesday, but much of that will come from an upper-level low near Puerto Rico that’s forecast to move into the Florida peninsula over the weekend.

Invest 99L, still east of the northwestern Lesser Antilles, did show some signs of pulling together on Tuesday, and the NHC bumped up development odds from 20 percent to 30 percent.

RECORD WATCH: Miami and West Palm Beach both tied record warm lows Monday with 82. Melbourne tied a record warm low with 81, and Vero Beach tied a record warm low with 80.

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Tropical Storm Franklin was moving over the Yucatan Tuesday. (Credit: NOAA)

TROPICS WATCH: The BIG QUESTION with Tropical Storm Franklin is: Will it become the season’s first hurricane? The official forecast by the National Hurricane Center has Franklin staying just under hurricane strength after it emerges off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula and heads across the Bay of Campeche toward the coast of Central Mexico. It was forecast to make landfall as a 70 mph tropical storm, but just a slight uptick would make it a Category 1 hurricane, the season’s first.

As a result, a hurricane watch was posted for Puerto de Veracruz to Rio Panuco. The potential for hurricane development will become more clear Wednesday after it’s had some time over the warm Gulf of Mexico waters. Franklin is forecast to make its final landfall in the wee hours of Thursday morning.

Either way, it’s a formidable storm, with tropical storm force winds extending 140 miles from the center. Isolated rainfall amounts of up to 15 inches, triggering flash-floods and mudslides, are possible on Thursday across an area of the coast that spans 300 miles or more.

As we head toward mid-August in what experts say is going to be a very busy peak hurricane season, it’s interesting to note that outside of Invest 99L, Franklin is the only game in town for the Atlantic. None of the models are showing anything else spinning up over the next seven to 10 days, and the long-range GFS suggests systems coming off the coast of Africa will get eaten up through August 24, presumably by dry air.

This time of the year, however, weather can change quickly in the tropics.

Rain back in Florida forecasts for end of week; Tropical Storm Franklin aims at Mexico

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Tropical Storm Franklin will have no impacts on Florida, but a low pressure area expected to slide over the peninsula at the end of the week should boost rain chances significantly. (Credit: NWS-Miami/ NHC)

Rain is back in the forecast for South Florida and Central Florida after a relatively dry start to August.

Some areas such as Miami and Fort Lauderdale are approaching a 1-inch precipitation deficit — and Marathon in the Middle Keys hasn’t recorded a drop of rain this month.

The June-July period was the wettest on record in parts of the central and southern peninsula, according to the South Florida Water Management District, with an average total of 23.45 inches across the district. The National Weather Service in Miami has details in its mid-rainy season report published last week.

But since then it’s been hit-and-miss. West Palm Beach and Naples are in the plus-column for August rainfall but that’s due to very localized rainfall that fell near the airports on August 1. Also, Naples picked up 1.43 inches of rain on Sunday.

Precipitation chances area-wide rise to around 40-50 percent by the end of the week from Central Florida down to the Keys.

NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center shows about 2.4 inches of rain falling across South Florida through next Monday as an upper-level low slides across Florida, National Weather Service forecasters said.

RECORD WATCH: Palm Beach International Airport broke a 54-year-old record Sunday with a low of 82. That beat the record for the warmest low, 81, set in 1963.

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TROPICS WATCH: Tropical Storm Franklin, the season’s sixth named storm, formed Sunday night in the western Caribbean. Tropical storm warnings were up for the Yucatan Peninsula and a hurricane watch was also posted for parts of the coast of Mexico. A tropical storm watch was posted as far south as Belize City.

Franklin is expected to cross the Gulf of Mexico’s Bay of Campeche and make landfall on Mexico’s East Coast early Thursday morning.

In the Central Atlantic, Invest 99L continued to deteriorate and the National Hurricane Center lowered odds of development to 20 percent by the end of the week. It should have no impact on Florida.

Gainesville smashes all-time summer rainfall record

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Forecast track for Potential Tropical Cyclone Seven. The Yucatan Peninsula was under a tropical storm warning. (Credit: NHC)

UPDATE: The season’s seventh “Potential Tropical Cyclone” was identified Sunday by the National Hurricane Center. It was likely to become Tropical Storm Franklin on Monday before crossing Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, and then near hurricane strength by mid-week as it nears Mexico’s East Coast. The NHC track has the storm making landfall very early Thursday morning well south of Texas. Meanwhile, Invest 99L looked rather lackluster in the Central Atlantic. Its potential impact on South Florida’s weather next weekend remained uncertain.

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ORIGINAL POST: There are still more than three weeks to go in the 2017 meteorological summer, but it’s already been the wettest season on record in Gainesville.

The city has racked up 34.6 inches of rain since June 1, beating the previous summer period (June 1 – August 31) of 32.55 inches set 52 years ago in 1965, the National Weather Service in Jacksonville reported Sunday.

In July alone, Gainesville measured 16.7 inches of rain, which broke the previous monthly record of 16.65 inches set in 2013. That was the third-highest monthly rainfall total on record right behind June’s 16.86 inches. it was also the second-wettest month on the record books.

Elsewhere in Florida, the main story over the weekend continued to be heat — and record overnight warmth. Key West only dropped to 85 degrees Saturday morning, tying the warmest minimum temperature mark set in 2007.

The low was 84 in Miami, good enough to tie the all-time warmest minimum temperature ever recorded in the city, set on August 4, 1993. It broke the daily record of 83.

Fort Lauderdale’s low of 84 busted the record warm low for the date of 83, set in 2011. Forecasters also said it was the second-warmest low ever measured in Fort Lauderdale.

Melbourne’s Saturday low of 80 beat the old daily record of 79 set in 2012.

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Invest 99L in the Central Atlantic could bring rain to Florida next weekend, the National Weather Service said. (Image credit: NHC)

TROPICS WATCH: Invest 90L in the Central Caribbean showed signs of development Sunday, while 99L in the Central Atlantic continued to struggle.

The National Hurricane Center gave the disturbances 90 percent and 50 percent chances of development over the next five days, respectively.

National Weather Service forecasters in Miami bumped up rain chances starting next Thursday and into the weekend, as two tropical waves — one of them 99L — bring an increase in moisture to the area.

“While it is still too early to tell any potential impacts, long range consensus is for above normal chances for showers and storms through much of the long term period as these features potentially affect the region,” they wrote in Sunday’s forecast discussion.