Sunday temperatures in South Florida plummeted into the 30s in western areas and 40s along the Atlantic Coast after Saturday’s vigorous cold front funneled in wintry air behind a storm system that brought snow and even chillier weather to the Northeast.
It was 45 in West Palm Beach — the coldest temperature since Feb. 11, 2016. It was 51 in Miami, 48 in Fort Lauderdale and 42 in Naples.
It was 39 in Immokalee in inland Collier County and there were scattered readings in the upper 30s west of Lake Okeechobee. Wind chills were in the lower to mid-30s in Southwest Florida.
It was in the 30s along the Treasure Coast and Gainesville, in North-Central Florida, reported 28 degrees.
A wind change from northwest to northeast late Sunday will kickoff a moderating trend, according to the National Weather Service. Monday morning lows will be near or slightly below 60 on Florida’s southeast coast, with highs edging back up into the 70s by Monday and Tuesday.
Highs late in the week will return to the upper 70s with lows around 70 under mostly sunny to partly cloudy conditions.
Saturday’s cold front delivered 0.19 of an inch of rain to Palm Beach International Airport to round out the first week of the new year. The January total of 0.24 of an inch is about a half-inch below normal for this point in the month.
Miami reported 0.59 of an inch front the front while 0.15 of an inch fell in Fort Lauderdale and 0.37 of an inch fell in Naples.
Disc jockey No. 1: “Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties ’cause it’s cooooold out there today.”
Disc jockey No. 2: “It’s coooold out there every day. What is this, Miami Beach?”
Well the radio disc jockeys got it right in Punxsutawney — every day — in Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day classic.
But after the muscular cold front that caused so much mayhem across the southeastern U.S. rips through the Florida peninsula this weekend, even Miami Beach won’t feel like Miami Beach.
The front was surging through North Florida early Saturday morning, leaving wind chills in the teens as far south as Dothan, in southern Alabama. In Tallahassee, it felt like 30 degrees.
Atlanta was under a winter storm warning Saturday for snow, sleet and ice with wind chills reaching below zero in some surrounding areas.
Almost a quarter of an inch of ice fell in North Georgia, making for dangerous travel conditions. Atlanta firefighters rescued a 3-year-old trapped in a house after a tree came down, according to the National Weather Service.
The Weather Service in Jacksonville posted a hard freeze warning for parts of North Florida, including Lake City, where Saturday night/ Sunday morning temperatures were forecast to tumble into the mid-20s.
A freeze warning for temperatures in the low 30s was issued for Gainesville and Ocala, and on the Atlantic Coast for areas just north of Daytona Beach.
With breezy conditions expected, wind chills in North Florida may drop as low as 15 degrees by Sunday morning.
Even in South Florida, Sunday morning temps are likely to be “the coldest so far this winter season,” National Weather Service forecasters said in their Saturday analysis, “with lowest wind chills early Sunday morning in the upper 20s and lower 30s when combined with the gusty winds.”
Highs along Florida’s southeast coast will only be in the mid-60s.
Sunday’s forecast high in Miami Beach: 65 degrees. Monday: 69. The normal high in Miami Beach is 74 with an average low of 61.
Temperatures will start moderating late Sunday, particularly on Florida’s East Coast, as winds swing around to the northeast. That brings warmer air in from the Atlantic, where water temperatures off Palm Beach remain in the toasty 77 degree range.
Look for South Florida highs edging back into the upper 70s later in the week, with lows in the upper 60s from Miami Beach to West Palm Beach.
Those overnight temps will still be 5-10 degrees above normal for this time of the year.
The Northeast will likely get walloped by a snow storm over the weekend, with up to 4 inches in New York and up to a foot in the Boston area through Sunday. (Credit: NOAA/ WPC)
Mid-50s are expected by Monday morning along Florida’s southeast coast. (Credit: NWS-Miami)
We’re entering the meat-and-potatoes of the winter season, with below zero weather in the Upper Midwest, snow heading for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast — and cool South Florida temperatures.
Temps from Miami up to West Palm Beach should dip into the 50s at night with highs struggling to hit 70 into the weekend and early next week. Cooler conditions are expected inland and on the West Coast.
Even so, there don’t appear to be any Arctic fronts on the way to Florida, and new long-range forecasts suggest a return to slightly above-normal temperatures later this month.
As has been the case over the last several years — and even the last decade — it looks like the above-normal warmth will be concentrated in overnight lows, rather than unusually warm daytime highs.
During the upcoming weekend, wind chills in Chicago and other areas of the Upper Midwest will be as low as 15 below zero, and snow and ice is headed for the I-95 corridor.
According to the National Weather Service in Miami, meanwhile, the cold front that is bringing all the mayhem to the U.S. Southeast will blow through South Florida Saturday night, capping Sunday’s high temperatures in the mid-60s with winds gusting over 30 mph.
Still, projected lows along the coast in the upper 50s are right around average for this time of the year, and minimum temps are forecast to return to the mid-60s by the middle of next week.
Smog envelopes Beijing in this 2014 photo. Air pollution in places like China and India was one of the top Weather Underground stories in 2016. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
For the third straight year in a row, 2016 was the hottest on record worldwide, according to Jeff Masters at Weather Underground.
It’s the first three-year string of unprecedented global records since such data gathering began in 1880.
“About 0.2 degrees (Celsius) of this warming was due to the strong El Niño event that ended in May 2016, and the remainder was due to the long-term warming of the planet from human-caused emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide,” Masters says. “Assuming that all nations who agreed to the Paris Climate Accord in 2015 fulfill their pledges, Earth is on track to see 2.3 degrees of warming over pre-industrial levels by 2050.”
He ranked air pollution and its consequences as the second-biggest weather story of 2016. Smog has become particularly deadly in India and China, he says.
Studies have shown that the Gulf Stream could remain remarkably stable even if global warming advances as forecast. But new research by Yale University incorporating larger increases in atmospheric CO2 suggests that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), which includes the Gulf Stream, will likely “collapse” in about 300 years.
The consequences, according to the study’s authors: “A prominent cooling over the northern North Atlantic and neighboring areas, sea ice increases over the Greenland-Iceland-Norwegian seas and to the south of Greenland, and a significant southward rain-belt migration over the tropical Atlantic.”
The largest social impacts would be in Great Britain and Scandinavia, which would lose heating generated by the Gulf Stream.
More record challenging heat was recorded in South Florida during December. (Credit: NWS-Miami)
Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Naples all had their second-warmest December on record, the National Weather Service says, eclipsed only by last December’s surprising heat.
West Palm Beach had its fourth-warmest December, coming in behind 2015, 2013 and 1931.
In Fort Lauderdale and Miami, six of the top 10 warmest Decembers have occurred since 2000; five in Naples and four in West Palm Beach.
Precipitation levels were close to normal in South Florida. The 3.09 inches recorded in West Palm Beach was 0.09 of an inch above average for the month, the first month since May with a rainfall surplus and only the third month of 2016 with a precipitation surplus.
Miami and Fort Lauderdale also ended the month in positive precipitation territory but Naples came up more than an inch short.
In Central Florida, Daytona Beach reported a December rainfall deficit of 1.93 inches; Orlando came in just short of normal; but Melbourne was 1.93 inches below average but Vero Beach finished the month just 0.05 of an inch in the hole.
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center released its January forecast Saturday calling for above normal temperatures and below normal rainfall in Florida.
But cooler weather does seem to be on the way nonetheless, with the first of several cold front due to breeze down the peninsula starting on Thursday. Lows, however, are expected to remain above normal through the weekend.
Normal high temperatures begin crawling up by mid-January as longer days begin taking hold. By Jan. 23, the normal high in Miami is back up to 77 and the normal low ticks up to 61 on Jan. 31.
Sunrise in West Palm Beach Sunday was 7:09 a.m. with sunset at 5:39 p.m. By Jan. 28, the sun will set at 6 p.m.
January is the only month of the year that has never had an official 90-degree high in South Florida. January temperatures have topped out as high as 88 in January.
October’s close encounter with major Hurricane Matthew was the top weather story of 2016, according to the National Weather Service in Miami. See below. (Credit: NWS-Miami)
A winter chill ushered out 2016 in Florida with temperatures sinking into the 30s in interior and Central Florida and dipping into the 40s as far south as West Palm Beach.
The anticipated wind shift to the east did not occur as early as projected, leading nighttime tempeatures to take a tumble around the state.
Saturday’s apparent low was 49 in West Palm Beach. It was 54 in Miami and Fort Lauderdale and 47 in Naples.
The coolest South Florida temperatures were low 40s west of Lake Okeechobee and in inland Collier County. A 5:30 a.m. temperature of 32.5 degrees was recorded at a South Florida Water Management District observation site at the Picayune Strand State Forest east of Naples off Alligator Alley.
In North Florida, a temperature of 28 degrees was recorded in Gainesville at 7:40 a.m.
A warm-up was imminent, forecasters said, as northwest winds swing around to the east and southeast.
South Florida highs near 80 are expected through Friday.
The National Weather Service in Miami released its 2016 wrap-up Friday, citing as its top weather story of the year the near-miss of Hurricane Matthew in October.
“Fortunately for South Florida, hurricane force winds and other severe impacts remained just offshore,” analysts said. “Sustained tropical storm force winds over land were confined to eastern Palm Beach County and the immediate coast of Broward County.”
Officially, highest winds were 63 mph at the Juno Beach Pier; 51 mph at Palm Beach International Airport.
In second place was the Feb. 16 tornado outbreak. A storm system moving east from the Gulf of Mexico merged with a cold front to trigger six tornadoes in Miami Gardens, Fort Lauderdale Beach, Pompano Beach and up into Palm Beach County.
Excessive and record heat also dominated the weather news. It was the third-warmest year on record in Miami, the fourth warmest in Fort Lauderdale and the fifth warmest in West Palm Beach and Naples.
“No official NWS station recorded temperatures at or below freezing the entire year,” forecasters said.
“July was the hottest on record at West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Summer 2016 tied for the hottest on record at West Palm Beach. December will end up among the top three warmest on record.”
Global forecast models show lots of high pressure maintaining control over the Florida peninsula through the first half of January.
So it should be no surprise this week’s cold front that is expected to give South Florida “a taste of winter” — as National Weather Service forecasters said Thursday in their weather analysis — will be ultra-short-lived.
Friday is forecast to be brisk and cool with winds gusting out of the north at 29 mph and highs in the upper 60s around South Florida. Saturday morning’s forecast lows range from 61 in West Palm Beach to 63 in Miami, although lows could dip below 50 on the West Coast.
Remember that normal lows for this time of the year are in the upper 50s on the southeast coast, so this cold front may not even drive low temperatures down into the normal range.
And some time on Saturday, winds will swing around to the southeast and usher in warmer air off the Atlantic, where water temperatures are incredibly warm for this time of the year — upper 70s in some locations.
Lows on Saturday night/ Sunday morning won’t get much below 70.
To see why, check out the above sea surface temperature anomaly map for the day after Christmas, which shows unusually warm water surrounding most of the Florida peninsula. (Water temperatures off Palm Beach were measured at a balmy 79 degrees over the Christmas weekend and were posted at 78 on Thursday.)
A wider view, heading out into the Central Tropical Atlantic, shows more above normal water temperatures.
In fact, NOAA’s GFS forecast model shows an interesting low pressure center spinning up east of the Bahamas toward the end of the second week of January. Yes, the GFS does tend to go a bit overboard in its long-range forecasting when it comes to tropical and subtropical systems.
But remember that last year Subtropical Storm Alex spun up in the Central Atlantic on Jan. 12. It then went on to become the first hurricane of 2016 on Jan. 14.
As we move into the new year, it will be interesting to see if the GFS continues this forecast and whether other global models begin falling into line.
For the U.S. in general, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for a major blast of cold air for the country, including the Midwest and the Northeast, the second week of the month. But the long-range forecast issued Wednesday stops the Arctic onslaught at the Florida state line, and keeps the peninsula toasty, especially south of Orlando.
AccuWeather is predicting seven of the first 14 days in January will be at or near 80 degrees in West Palm Beach with a run of cooler temperatures the third week of the month and then normal temperatures to round out the last week of January.
Interesting to note that normal highs and lows in South Florida begin edging up the last week of January and begin to rise significantly as we get into the middle of February.
Is the South Florida winter weather evolving into a humdrum replay of its oppressive summer heat?
That’s the argument made in a Washington Post article last week. “The past two Decembers have made the tourist-enticing phrase ‘endless summer’ a reality — great for our visitors, not so great for us,” writes Brian McNoldy for the Capital Weather Gang.
Average December temperatures in South Florida have in fact been on the upswing, and Miami is now slightly warmer, through Dec. 24, than last year’s blistering pace. There have been two days this month with highs of 87, and six nights in which the low temperature failed to sink below the mid-70s. The low on Dec. 18 was 79.
The average high so far this month in Miami is 83 with an average low of 72.
Fort Lauderdale, though, is running almost a full degree behind 2015 and West Palm Beach is running 1.4 degrees behind last year’s record pace.
With a cold front due at the end of the week, it’s doubtful that any new monthly records will be set in Broward or Palm Beach counties, although Miami could come close.
Remember, too, that last year’s ultra-warm December was followed by two cooler than normal months in January and February. That was true for all major southeast coast reporting stations — Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
Most of that was blamed on El Niño, which keeps a lid on temperature just by virtue of enhanced cloud cover and stormier weather. And not to forget, the summer was record hot in many South Florida locations.
Still, I don’t hear many people complaining about the warm winter weather. There has been, to be sure, less open window weather since the dry season began in October, but we’ll have our fair share of cool-downs in January and February.
The hot and dry summer was of more concern to permanent year-round residents of South Florida. Water bills and power bills spiked. The serviceman from the company that services my air conditioner told me that a lot of people are having to install more powerful systems to accommodate the rise in summer temperatures, which sometimes bottomed out in the wee hours of the morning at 85 degrees.
There is more worry, too, about the rise in sea temperatures in both the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Ocean heat provides more fuel for late-summer and fall hurricane and it was a miracle that Florida’s Southeast Coast barely escaped the fury of October’s Hurricane Matthew (although Central and North Florida, and the Bahamas, were not so lucky.)
Toasty wintertime temps are a little different story. When I start to hear myself complain about 80 degrees in December and January, I’ll figure it may be time to pull up stakes and head north.