March weather in South Florida was marked by heat, hail and death as a thunderstorm took one life, while rip currents stole away another.
The National Weather Service in Miami highlighted March’s heat and severe, but limited, storminess in a report released last week.
In it, forecasters note the death of a teenager in Haulover Beach on March 23 that they attributed to rip currents.
Also, 41-year-old Farooq Mohammad, of Lake Worth, died after being struck by lightning on March 25 in Jonathan Dickinson State Park. Mohammad died a week after the incident, which occurred technically in the forecast area of the Melbourne National Weather Service office.
Mohammad was found on his back by a Martin County Sheriff’s Deputy with park employees performing chest compressions and trying to get a defibrillator to work in the rain.
“The rain was very heavy and the lightning was crashing around us,” the deputy wrote.
Most of the month’s rainfall occurred during three events sparked by cold fronts that moved through the state on March 19, 24 and 29. A tornado was reported on a beach in Fort Lauderdale on March 19.
The heavy rainfall on March 24 closed parts of Boca Raton’s City Hall after water trapped on a flat roof leaked through the second and first floors.
“We are back in business,” said Chrissy Gibson, the city’s communication and marketing manager. “It was coming down fast and furious, and even the largest storm drain in the world isn’t going to handle it when it’s coming that fast.”
Daytime high temperatures in South Florida sizzled last month with West Palm Beach experiencing its fourth warmest March on record dating back to 1889. The average high temperature was 74.9 degrees, which is 4.4 degrees warmer than the 30-year normal for March.
The top 5 warmest on record for West Palm Beach now rank as follows:
1) 77.0 / 2003
2) 76.0 / 1948 & 2015
4) 74.9 / 2016
5) 74.8 / 1912 & 1913
The average March temperature recorded at the Miami International Airport was 76.5 degrees, which is nearly 4 degrees above normal in records dating back to 1895.
March was also warm nationally, ranking third warmest for the contiguous lower 48 states.
According to NOAA, the March average temperature for the lower 48 was 47.5 degrees, which is 6 degrees warmer than the 20th century average and the warmest since 2012.