Florida posts record-warm first half of 2017

First half 2017

Florida was one of four states that had a record warm start to the year. (Credit: NOAA/ NCEI)

The first half of 2017 in Florida was the warmest such period on record, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information reports. The U.S.  overall had its second-warmest first half of the year from January through June.

Florida also had its second-wettest June on record, the agency said.

Record warmth also took hold in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. A large swath of states from the Desert Southwest through the Mississippi Valley and into the Appalachians had second- or third-warmest first-halfs on record.

These are overall average temperatures, taking into consideration the highs and the lows.

If you just look at high temperatures from January through June, all-time records were posted in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, while Florida had its second-warmest first half in terms of highs.

Ironically, Florida’s June temperatures brought the six-month average down slightly due to all the rain and cloudy weather.

July temperatures in South Florida are running 2-3 degrees above average in Miami and West Palm Beach, but just slightly above normal in Fort Lauderdale and Naples.

July temps are about a degree above normal in the Keys, 1-3 degrees above normal in East-Central Florida, 1-2 degrees in the Tampa area, 1-2 degrees in North Florida, and about a degree higher in the panhandle.

Florida’s East Coast has been above normal in large part due to the prevailing easterly winds this summer coming in off an unsually warm Atlantic. Melbourne challenged another record warm low Thursday with 80 degrees, tying a mark for the date set in 2006.

WEEKEND WEATHER WATCH: With this week’s tropical waves pushing out into the Gulf of Mexico, a relatively dry weekend is in store for Florida’s East Coast, according to the National Weather Service. Rain chances edge up early next week as winds swing around to the southwest. That should drive any showers that develop over the peninsula’s interior toward the East Coast metro areas.

TROPICS WATCH: No tropical development is forecast by the National Hurricane Center through at least the next five days. The forecast models show a quiet Atlantic over the next seven days, although the GFS and Canadian (CMC) suggest a weak system may approach the Bahamas the week of July 23.

The Climate Prediction Center issued its updated El Niño forecast Thursday, calling for the current neutral conditions in the tropical Pacific to last into the 2017-2018 winter.

“However, chances for El Niño remain elevated” — forecasters said. They put chances of at 35-45 percent.  An El Niño — abnormally warm water in the tropical Pacific — would discourage tropical development in the Atlantic.

But even if these conditions would arrive later this year, it would likely be too late to affect the peak months of the hurricane season.

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Miami socked with record rainfall as tropical waves roll through peninsula

5 day forecast

The five-day forecast is for drier weather, particularly for the East Coast of South Florida. (Credit: NWS-Miami)

Miami was hammered with 5.49 inches of rain on Wednesday as the first of two tropical waves pushed across the peninsula. The total measured at Miami International Airport smashed the previous July 12 record of 2.31 inches set in 2012.

Up the coast, Palm Beach International Airport reported a hefty 1.91 inches, but Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International measured a more modest 0.37 of an inch.

The National Weather Service reported 1.94 inches in Kendall while Naples was relatively dry with just 0.01 of an inch.

The NWS observer network posted 24 hour totals of 3.78 inches in Loxahatchee, Palm Beach County; and 2.97 inches in Weston, Broward County.

Parts of inland Martin County picked up almost 3 inches, according to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network. Coastal St. Lucie County reported almost 2 and a half inches — ditto for Indian River County.

The West Coast, including Tampa, reported much lighter amounts of up to around a quarter of an inch, although an observer in St. Petersburg measured 2.33 inches.

A second day of possibly heavy rainfall was setting up for Thursday with the remnants of Tropical Depression Four. But morning radar out of Miami showed skimpy pockets of showers headed for the peninsula and Florida Keys.

A return to more typical summer rainfall — focused on the interior and West Coast — is setting up for the weekend and next week, the National Weather Service said.

TROPICS TALK: Things should remain quiet across the tropical Atlantic for at least the next seven to 10 days, according to forecast models, and the National Hurricane Center shows no development for the next five days.

The GFS model keeps the Atlantic quiet through July 29 despite the early outbreak of tropical waves from Africa.

At Weather Underground, hurricane expert Jeff Masters has credited dry air for the trend, with humidity levels around what was once Tropical Depression Four dropping to as low as 45 percent.

Enjoy the lull, since August typically has the NHC forecast map flashing red. The peak of the hurricane season is September 10.

Florida rainfall deficits mounting — will tropical wave come to the rescue?

SFL tropical waves

WEDNESDAY UPDATE:  A pair of tropical waves, one of them the remnants of Tropical Depression Four, are expected to bring some much needed rain to South Florida late Wednesday and Thursday, the National Weather Service in Miami said. No development of the waves is forecast, but the TD Four remnants may bring the wettest weather.  “Locally heavy rainfall will be a concern,” forecasters said in their Wednesday morning discussion from Miami, “mainly with training activity, but there doesn’t look to be a significant flooding threat as the wave looks to continue to dampen out as it approaches.” (Credit: NWS-Miami)

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ORIGINAL POST: Despite all the whoopin’ and hollerin’ about potential tropical activity in the Atlantic, the first 10 days of the month have come in ultra-dry for Florida’s East Coast.

Palm Beach is officially an inch-and-a-half behind on normal rainfall, Fort Lauderdale is three-quarters of an inch short, and Miami has about a half-inch deficit. In the Keys, Marathon is an inch behind although Key West has had precipitation levels near average.

A tropical wave brought rainfall to the extreme southern peninsula and the Keys on Monday, but conditions remained dry north of Fort Lauderdale.

The West Coast has been the big beneficiary of the trend, with Naples chalking up 5.11 inches of rain so far in July — 2.35 above average.

Rainfall has been very localized — typical of summer in Florida. For example, Orlando is enjoying near-average precipitation this month but to the east, Melbourne has had only 0.04 of an inch, closing in on 2 inches below normal with a third of the month already in the books.

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LA record Saturday

Record heat has baked the Southwest this summer. (Credit: NWS-Los Angeles)

Florida temperatures have been hot — but that’s par for the course. So far, temperatures haven’t approached the record levels seen last year, although overnight record warm lows continues to be set in East Coast locations.

But unprecedented heat waves have gripped other parts of the country, particularly the Southwest. On Saturday, Los Angeles hit 98 degrees, smashing a 131-year-old record high of 95 set in 1886.

All-in-all, the first half of 2017 was the second-warmest on record, according to NOAA. The warmest first half of the year was 2012.

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A quiet forecast map returned Tuesday at the National Hurricane Center. (Credit: NHC)

TROPICS TALK: Forecast models made an abrupt U-turn Tuesday and decided they favor a quiet Atlantic over the next seven to 10 days. The disturbance in the eastern Atlantic has been taken off the National Hurricane Center forecast map and the two models that do most of the heavy lifting for forecasters — the GFS and the European (ECMWF) — show clear sailing, at least for now.

Also, the latest attempts by ex-Tropical Depression Four north of Puerto Rico to spin back up into a tropical cyclone have been kicked back by dry air, and the future of this slow-moving system remains uncertain.

Whatever does survive may head for the Florida Straits rather than the peninsula itself, hurricane forecast models suggest.

However, the National Weather Service in Miami continues to call for a wet day on Thursday as ex-TD Four slides over or near the area.

“Numerous showers with embedded thunderstorms are expected throughout the day,” forecasters said Tuesday, with “periods of locally heavy rainfall” possible. “Enhanced cloud cover will also hold down temperatures a few degrees in the mid-upper 80s.”

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Tuesday’s forecast tracks for ex-TD Four suggest the possibility of a more southerly route. (Credit: SFWMD)

Ex-tropical depression forecast to bring late week rainfall to Florida peninsula

Caribbean SAT

Monday’s Caribbean satellite image shows ex-Tropical Depression Four edging west north of Puerto Rico. Late morning, the NHC re-posted its floater page on the system, and was reportedly monitoring it for possible regeneration. It was moving into an area of much lower wind shear. (Credit: NOAA)

Some decent rains are expected Thursday and Friday from around North-Central Florida all the way down to the Keys as the remnants of Tropical Depression Four slide in from the Bahamas, the National Weather Service says.

Forecasters bumped up rain chances on Thursday to around 60 percent. Don’t expect a deluge, but there should be “numerous showers with embedded thunderstorms, some likely heavy, through the day Thursday and possibly lingering into Friday,” the NWS said in its Monday analysis from Miami.

Central Florida rain chances will be in the 40-50 percent range, forecasters in Melbourne said.

The former depression showed bursts of convection all weekend, but its efforts to regenerate have been shot down by dry air and wind shear.

It was a wet Monday morning from around Fort Lauderdale down to the Keys, but as usual, afternoon activity is expected to be focused on the peninsula’s interior and West Coast.

That was the scenario on Sunday, too, as Naples was socked by 2.99 inches early in the afternoon — breaking a 57-year-old rainfall record for July 9. The previous mark was 2.03 inches in 1960. Just up the coast, though, Fort Myers reported only a trace of rain.

East Coast metro areas were mostly dry.

RECORD WATCH: Miami’s low on Sunday was 82, tying the mark for warmest low temperature  for the date, set in 2004.

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National Hurricane Center forecasters are watching a new tropical wave in the far eastern Atlantic. (Credit: NHC)

TROPICS TALK: A tropical wave in the eastern Atlantic was given a 20 percent chance of developing into a depression or named storm by the end of the week as it moves due west toward the Windward Islands. The GFS is still the only model that has been enthusiastic about the development of this wave, which may come too close to the coast of northern South America to actually spin up.

Forecasters see stormy weekend for Florida peninsula, much of eastern U.S.

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The remnants of Tropical Depression Four were firing up convection north of the Lesser Antilles Sunday. (Credit: NOAA)

SUNDAY UPDATE: West Palm Beach reported 0.57 of an inch of rain Saturday, the first measurable precipitation since July 4. Fort Lauderdale had 0.15 while Miami measured just a trace and Naples had no rain.

In East-Central Florida, Daytona Beach picked up 0.76 of an inch while almost an inch fell officially in Orlando. But Melbourne and Vero Beach reported only a trace of rain. Tampa had 0.36 of an inch.

The remnants of Tropical Depression Four — which blew up an impressive amount of convection late Saturday — are forecast by the National Weather Service in Miami to move across South Florida late in the week.

In its Sunday tropical weather discussion, the National Hurricane Center said: “Expect scattered showers and thunderstorms with gusty winds to affect mainly the northeastern Caribbean today and tonight, with the majority of the activity shifting west-northwest towards the general vicinity of the southeastern Bahamas and that of the northern and eastern portions of Hispaniola Monday through Tuesday.”

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ORIGINAL POST: Most of the southeastern U.S. — including the Florida peninsula — should be on the lookout for thunderstorms and possibly some severe weather over the weekend, according to NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center.

A wide swath of territory from Oklahoma through the Gulf States and into the Carolinas, as well as Florida’s central and southern peninsula, is at risk. The greatest risk will be in the Mid-Atlantic States including North Carolina and Virginia.

But, as has been the case for much of the summer so far, Florida’s coastal areas may not see much rain as sea breezes push storms inland from both the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

The Weather Prediction Center indicates that most of the rain over the weekend will be focused around Lake Okeechobee and points to the north and west. Up to an inch and a quarter could fall in these areas, forecasters said.

RECORD WATCH: Fort Lauderdale’s low on Friday, 83, tied the record warm low for the date set just last year. The low was 81 in Miami — where it hasn’t been below 80 degrees since June 29 — and 79 in West Palm Beach. The low in Naples was 76.

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SUNDAY NIGHT: The NHC gave the wave moving off the coast of Africa a 20 percent chance of development by the end of the week as it moves west across the Atlantic. The GFS is enthusiastic about this system … other models not so much. (Credit: NHC)

TROPICS TALK: The GFS continues to show a tropical system spinning through the Caribbean next weekend. The European (ECMWF) has backed off, predicting that the system will  bump into South America before gaining any tropical traction.

The Canadian (CMC) keeps it far enough north to show a tropical storm in the Caribbean, but weaker than the GFS.

The National Hurricane Center, which issued its last advisory Friday on Tropical Depression Four, is predicting no tropical development in the Atlantic through at least Thursday.

The remnants of TD Four may bring some showers to South Florida next week, the National Weather Service in Miami says.

Major forecast models hop on tropical development bandwagon for new Atlantic wave

Caribbean satellite

TD FOUR DISSIPATES: The National Hurricane Center issued its final advisory on the season’s fourth tropical depression east of the Lesser Antilles Friday at 5 p.m. The system was battered by dry air and wind shear. Forecasters said they did not anticipate regeneration. (Credit: NOAA)

You can throw the usual July peace and quiet in the Atlantic Basin out the window this year as tropical activity kicks into high gear. Things may in fact start calming down later in the month, but there’s no sign of that quite yet.

While Tropical Depression Four struggles in the Central Atlantic, another wave is forecast to roll off the coast of Africa over the weekend that could cause problems over the next 10 days anywhere from the Caribbean north to the Bahamas.

In short, we could be tracking Invest 95L in about a week, according to the major global forecasting models. Both the GFS and the European (ECMWF) show major storms developing on the way to the Lesser Antilles. On Thursday night, GFS runs were targeting Florida and the eastern Gulf of Mexico, but Friday’s runs showed a southern track through the Caribbean and into Central America.

The Euro is suggesting a strong storm hitting the Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico in about 10 days.

As for TD Four, even this isn’t a complete write-off, although the National Hurricane Center is forecasting dissipation east of the Bahamas by Monday.

NHC forecaster Stacy Stewart said in Friday morning’s TD Four analysis that there was “one important caveat to note and that is the UKMET model, which continues to show less weakening and even strengthening in 96 and 120 hours when the system is approaching the Bahamas. Although the other global and regional models do not show regeneration at this time, they do however show similar improving upper-level wind conditions east of Florida by 120 hours.”

Friday morning’s run of the Canadian model (CMC) has TD Four restrengthening near Grand Bahama Island by mid-week and then heading north, but staying off the U.S. coast.

Fingers remain crossed that Florida stays out of the line of tropical fire. But with heat index values at or over 100 degrees across the peninsula, some rain would be more than welcome. However, the National Weather Service is not optimistic about significant rainfall for the East Coast metro areas through next week.

Rain chances on the East Coast reach 40 percent on Saturday, but then fall off to 30 percent Sunday and stay at around 20-30 percent for much of the rest of the week.

Most coastal locations will be showing significant precipitation shortfalls for the first week of July. The deficit will be approaching an inch and a half at Palm Beach International Airport by this weekend.

Tropical Depression Four expected to dissipate, but active season looks likely

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Tropical Depression Four is forecast to dissipate before reaching the Bahamas. (Credit: NHC)

Tropical Depression Four looked like it was ready to start intensifying Wednesday night as the National Hurricane Center began issuing advisories on the Central Atlantic system. But it had lost much of its punch on Thursday — a trend NHC forecasters say may signal its ultimate demise.

With one exception, forecast models show the low limping toward the Bahamas by the weekend and then dissipating, falling victim to dry air and higher wind shear.

The National Weather Service in Miami said Thursday: “No impacts expected for South Florida from this tropical depression.” It’s not mentioned at all in Central Florida NWS discussions from Melbourne, where rain chances over the weekend are forecast to tick up slightly thanks to a trough of low pressure over the eastern U.S.

The only forecast model that suggests any future for TD Four is the Canadian (CMC), which has the system reintensifying early next week after it heads north from the Bahamas.

Eastern Atlantic sat

With TD Four (left) churning in the Atlantic, another wave was approaching the coast of Africa Thursday. (Credit: NOAA)

The U.S. East Coast is far from off the hook this month, though, as potent tropical waves continue to roll off the coast of Africa — a phenomenon more typical of August and September. Eventually these waves will encounter lower wind shear and a more moist environment.

The tropical Atlantic is unusually warm — fuel for potential tropical systems — and the heat shows no signs of backing off.

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Sea surface temperature anomalies as of July 3. (Credit: NOAA/ NESDIS)

That’s one of the main reasons why new hurricane season forecasts were bumped up this week by Colorado State University and the United Kingdom’s Tropical Storm Risk.

CSU is predicting 15 named storms, including the three already in the books, while TSR is now forecasting 17 named storms. CSU is calling for eight hurricanes and TSR seven. And since none of the three named storms we’ve had reached hurricane status, those hurricanes would most likely be spread out over the next three months. (The hurricane season officially runs to November 30.)

One of the more disturbing parts of hurricane researcher Philip Klotzbach’s CSU analysis, released Thursday, points to six analog years “with characteristics most similar to what we expect to see in August-October of 2017.”

One of them is 2004, which was an infamous hurricane season in Florida that included Charley, Frances, Jeanne and Ivan, although Ivan officially made landfall in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

The other five analog years identified by CSU are 1953, 1969 (Hurricane Camille), 1979 (Hurricane David), 2006 and 2012. The number of hurricanes ranged from six in 1979 to 12 in 1969.

One caveat for this season is that water temperatures in the north-central Gulf of Mexico have been cooler than average.

Whether or not that will become a mitigating factor in this year’s season remains to be seen.