UPDATE: Tropical Storm Michael aims for Gulf; Florida prepares for Category 2 hurricane on Panhandle

UPDATE: Tropical Storm Michael aims for Gulf; Florida prepares for Category 2 hurricane on Panhandle

11 p.m. UPDATE: Florida Gov. Rick Scott today warned that Tropical Storm Michael, which appears to be headed for the Florida Panhandle, could become a Category 2 hurricane with winds up to 100 miles per hour by the time it makes landfall at midweek.

Scott issued an order for a state of emergency for 26 counties in the Panhandle and Big Bend area. The declaration will free up resources for storm preparation.

“This storm will be life-threatening and extremely dangerous,” Scott said after receiving a briefing at the State Emergency Operations Center.

The governor warned that storm surge could affect areas of Florida not in the storm’s direct path.

STORM 2018: CHECK THE INTERACTIVE TRACKING MAP

“If this storm hit Panama City, Tampa could still have storm surge,” said Scott, referring to two Florida cities about 375 miles apart by highway. “Every family must be prepared.”

Continue reading “UPDATE: Tropical Storm Michael aims for Gulf; Florida prepares for Category 2 hurricane on Panhandle”

BREAKING: State team deployed to investigate MacArthur Beach fish kill

Dead fish wash up on the beach south of Donald Ross Road during an outbreak of red tide in Juno Beach on October 3, 2018. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

UPDATE 5 p.m.: A state team of biologists will investigate a fish kill reported today at MacArthur Beach State Park.

According to a press release:

Parks staff is working to perform clean-up as quickly as possible, while coordinating with FWC to investigate any potential causes. To date, at Governor Scott’s direction, DEP has distributed grant funding of more than $10 million to support efforts in impacted counties to mitigate and combat red tide.

UPDATE 4:45 p.m.: Most Palm Beach County beaches will remain closed Thursday, with the exception of Phil Foster Park, Peanut Island and Ocean Ridge Hammock.

Officials said this afternoon that people are still complaining of scratchy throats and wheezing – symptoms of a red tide that was found in low to moderate quantities in waters from Palm Beach Inlet to Jupiter Inlet.

Also, “limited fish kills on some beaches” have been reported.

To report a fish kill, call the FWC’s hotline at 800-636-0511.

UPDATE: The Florida Department of Environmental Protection said dead fish are being cleaned up off of MacArthur Beach Beach State Park and will be tested for red tide.

The park is closed. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will test for the Karenia brevis toxin to see if that was the cause of death.

Previous story: Palm Beach County is posting specially-made signs warning of red tide at its beaches today, which remain closed as lifeguards continue to report coughing, scratchy throats and watery eyes.

Aquatics director Laurie Schobelock said the new vinyl signs being made by the county’s sign shop will be posted at beach information boards and at beach entrances if there are extra.

She said the county is getting a few calls reporting dead fish, but that she was at Juno Beach this morning and didn’t see dead fish. She did feel the red tide-induced scratch in her throat and said it was a little sore until she returned to her office.

PHOTOS: Red tide hits Palm Beach County 

RELATED: What the red tide samples showed, and other algae questions answered

“This is all a moving target,” Schobelock said about managing the red tide situation. “The decision about closing the beaches tomorrow will be made later in the day.”

The county had expected to open beaches today, but reversed course after NOAA released a forecast that predicted “moderate” levels of red tide along Palm Beach County through at least Friday.

New red tide test results are expected today from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, but it’s unknown if they will include information beyond what was released Monday that showed low to moderate levels of Karenia brevis at 11 sites tested.

“The biggest thing is if anyone is having any sort of respiratory issue they should stay away from the beaches,” Schobelock said. “Exercise caution and be aware this is going on.”

Delray Beach resident Harvey Latidus said he walked his dog this morning near Atlantic Avenue and felt what he likened to “tear gas.”

He was concerned there were no signs explaining what was happening.

“It got me good this morning,” he said. “They have the red flags out so they don’t want you in the water, but there are no signs, there’s nothing. The city could send a flier or give notice to people in regards to this.”

Red tide, which grows in saltwater, is naturally occurring in the Gulf of Mexico. This summer, onshore winds pushed the toxin close to beaches that were fouled by massive fish kills, as well as dead manatees, turtles and dolphins.

How the red tide got to Palm Beach County is still a matter of debate, although the general theory is it got caught in the Florida Current, which runs through the Florida Straits into the Gulf Stream.

Richard Stumpf, a NOAA oceanographer who tracks algae blooms by satellite, said a red tide bloom passed west of the Marquesas Keys, which are west of Key West, in mid-September. Following that, a mild algae bloom formed offshore of the upper Keys and stretched west to the Gulf Stream.

“That moved through the Palm Beach area over the weekend when you had strong easterly winds,” Stumpf said. “The winds would help accumulate cells at the shore concentrating them from a mild to a dense bloom.”

RELATED: Fighting, fingerpointing no way to fix toxic algae issue

Malcolm McFarland, a research associate at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce, said the natural currents didn’t look like they were in the right place to pick up the red tide in the Gulf of Mexico.

“It could be a local bloom entirely separate from what’s happening on the west coast,” McFarland said. “And that would be even more interesting.”

If you haven’t yet, join Kim on Facebook Instagram and Twitter.

UPDATE: Tropical Storm Kirk weakens to depression, could fall apart as it heads toward Caribbean

Tropical Storm Kirk

11 p.m. UPDATE: Tropical Storm Kirk’s top sustained winds decreased to near 35 mph as it accelerated westward across the Atlantic, according to the latest National Hurricane Center advisory. It’s now a tropical depression.

STORM 2018: CHECK THE INTERACTIVE TRACKING MAP

Kirk is about 835 miles west-southwest of the southernmost Cabo Verde Islands and moving rapidly around 25 mph.

Little change in the maximum winds is forecast during the next several days. But forecasters said Kirk could degenerate into a trough of low pressure as it moves quickly across the tropical central Atlantic over the next several days.

Tropical Storm Kirk

5 p.m. UPDATE: Tropical Storm Kirk continues on its rapid westward trek across the tropical Atlantic, speeding due west at 23 mph, according to the latest National Hurricane Center advisory.

Kirk is about 645 miles southwest of the southernmost Cabo Verde Islands with maximum sustained winds near 40 mph. Some strengthening is forecast during the next day or two.

However, Kirk could encounter shear that could weaken the storm over the Caribbean.

STORM 2018: CHECK THE INTERACTIVE TRACKING MAP

Meanwhile, newly named Subtropical Storm Leslie is crawling toward the west in the middle of the Atlantic. Maximum sustained winds are near 40 mph, but Leslie is forecast to dissipate in a few days.

11 am update of Tropical Storm Kirk. (NHC)

11 a.m. UPDATE: Tropical Storm Kirk continues its westward trek, and is now moving west at 21 mph. It is 545 miles southwest of the Cape Verde Islands and still has maximum sustained winds of 40 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Kirk’s forecast of continued westward movement and strengthening early in the week hasn’t changed.

Meanwhile, a new storm, Leslie, has formed. A subtropical storm, Leslie has maximum sustained winds of 40 mph, and is out in the middle of the Atlantic on the same latitude as South Carolina. Leslie is only moving west at about 3 mph and isn’t expected to move very far in the next two days, forecasters say.

Subtropical Storm Leslie’s first update at 11 a.m. Sunday. (NHC)

NHC forecasters predict Leslie will likely be absorbed by a larger low-pressure system by mid-week.

Finally, Tropical Depression 11 is no more. The remnants of the depression were expected to weaken further in the next day or so. They have maximum sustained winds of 25 mph and are about 350 miles east-northeast of the Windward Islands.

ORIGINAL STORY: Tropical Storm Kirk continues to move west through the Atlantic, and forecasters continue to predict it may be in the Caribbean by Thursday morning.

As of 5 a.m., Kirk was 465 miles south-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands, heading west at 18 mph. Its maximum sustained winds were at 40 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

STORM 2018: Hurricane Central

Forecasters say Kirk will begin moving more quickly across the ocean as of Tuesday and is expected to strengthen in the next two days. However, they add it may begin weakening in the middle of the week.

The 5 a.m. update on Tropical Depression 11. (NHC)

Meanwhile, Tropical Depression 11, what forecasters are calling a “poorly organized” storm, is likely to dissipate by this evening. It’s 415 miles east-northeast of the Windward Islands and had maximum sustained winds of 30 mph.

If you haven’t yet, join Kim Miller on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

BACK TO SCHOOL: What’s the weather?

Kindergarteners are welcomed with a snack at Grassy Waters Elementary School Monday, August 14, 2017 (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

Typical South Florida summer weather is forecast for Palm Beach County’s first day of school.

That means fleeting morning showers, heat and afternoon storms.

“It’s still very much summer,” said Steven Ippoliti, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami. “There won’t be significant rain in the morning, but the afternoon pickup could definitely see some showers and thunderstorms.”

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

Early morning temperatures will be in the mid to upper 70s with a daytime high in Palm Beach County between 88 and 92, with the warmer temperatures inland.

The heat index, or “feels like” temperature will reach about 102 at the coast, but could soar to 107 inland.

So, students may need an umbrella in the afternoon, but be prepared for typical August heat also.

 

PHOTOS: Tornado, flooding rains, deadly lightning strike hit South Florida

While much of northern Palm Beach County saw nothing but sunshine Tuesday, areas to the south were under siege by wicked weather that kicked up a tornado in western Broward County, hail in Pembroke Pines, flooding rains in Miami-Dade and a possible lightning strike that killed a man in Lake Worth. 

Florida’s summer thunderstorms are noted for their quick escalation with guts that carry deadly charges.

Lightning kills randomly, know myth from fact. 

Florida, is, in fact, unique when it comes to its summer thunderstorms, feeling the sea breeze from both coasts which can whip the atmosphere into a froth of funnel clouds and whiteout showers.

The National Weather Service in Miami initially said the tornado that hit in a non-residential area of Broward was a funnel cloud, but after seeing witness photos, determined it was a tornado.

If you haven’t yet, join Kim on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Lightning strikes as motorists travel southbound on I95 near the 45th Street exit in West Palm Beach, June 29, 2015. (Greg Lovett / The Palm Beach Post)

Tropical development chances lowered, but storms continue

UPDATE 3:54 P.M.: The National Hurricane Center has reduced the chances for tropical development of the system in the Gulf of Mexico to 30 percent over 5 days.

The area of low pressure, which is the cause of today’s storms and early-morning tornado, is hugging the west coast of the state as it moves north into the Panhandle.

Regardless of whether the system develops into a tropical storm or subtropical storm, it will bring rain to Florida for most of the week.

GOES-East satellite image.

UPDATE 2:31 P.M.: Thunderstorms hugging Palm Beach County’s coats have triggered a marine warning for strong winds from Boca Raton to Jupiter.

The warning is in effect until 3:30 p.m.

UPDATE 12:28 P.M. : A team from the National Weather Service in Miami has confirmed a tornado touched down in The Acreage this morning at 5:34 a.m.

The tornado was an EF-0 that traveled a path 50 yards wide and 1.5 miles long.

Robert Molleda, the warning coordination meteorologist with the NWS Miami office, said the straight narrow path of damage was a good indicator that it was caused by a tornado.

He estimates the winds were about 80 mph.

“Certainly there was no major structural damage,” he said. “It was mainly tree branches, a few uprooted trees, some fence damage, a couple of horse stables got their roof covering blown off, and a few trampolines got flung around.”

A 12×12′ chicken shed on his property of Lazaro Santos on Key Lime Boulevard in The Acreage was destroyed Monday, May 14, 2018. The National Weather Service in Miami is still gathering reports of damage in The Acreage where a tornado warning was issued this morning. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

UPDATE 12:07 P.M.: Rain and thunderstorms will persist over South Florida for the next few days as a slow-moving area of low pressure in the Gulf of Mexico sucks tropical moisture into the area.

The Storm Prediction Center has the area at a marginal risk for severe weather, which could include brief and weak tornadoes.

Localized flooding may also be possible with the heaviest rainfall.

 

See images of possible tornado damage in western Palm Beach County.

The tropical disturbance dumping rain throughout Florida and triggering an early morning tornado warning has a 40 percent chance of development over the next five days, according to a special forecast from the National Hurricane Center.

That remains unchanged from the center’s first forecast Sunday afternoon, which also gives the system a 30 percent chance of developing into a tropical cyclone or subtropical storm over the next 48 hours.

Regardless of development, high rainfall amounts are expected as the slow moving area of low pressure treks north hugging Florida’s west coast.

The next hurricane center forecast on this disturbance will be issued by 4 p.m.

The National Weather Service in Miami is still gathering reports of damage in The Acreage where a tornado warning was issued this morning.

Robert Molleda, the warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami, is in western Palm Beach County looking for clues that the uprooted trees, dumped over sheds and mangled screens were caused by a tornado.

LIVE RADAR: Check The Palm Beach Post’s radar map.

David Cox, who lives across the street from where the wind damage occurred this morning, said he lost electricity for a short while, but it was quickly restored.

“What I heard was a bunch of wind coming across, like a screeching noise and wind,” Cox said. “It wasn’t really scary. I’m a Floridian. I’ve been through of bunch of hurricanes.”

Robert Lisboa of Best Glass Guys repairs damage to window panes in the home of Mary Burgio in the Acreage Monday morning, May 14, 2018. “Nine panes were broken,” Burgio said. “The tree branches came a-flying.” (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

At Mike and Marcy Jordan’s home on 72nd Court North, the storm ripped a door off the east side of their house, dragged a 40-foot skateboard ramp three feet, pulled panels off the pool fence and uprooted a tree in the paddock they maintain for their 18-year-old horse, Flash.

Mike Jordan said he was watching the news when the worst of the storm hit. He heard the tornado warning. “About two minutes after that, there it was,” he said.

The Jordans, their sons and neighbors walked around their soggy yard Monday morning assessing the damage and beginning repairs. One neighbor sat perched on top of their stable helping secure a tarp to protect Flash from continuing rain.

Around the corner on Apache Boulevard, Mary Burgio already had a worker from Loxahatchee-based Glass Guys repairing eight lanes of glass on her home.

Burgio said the wind really geared up about 5:17 a.m., rippling branches off her towering, 60-foot oak tree and sending more branches from another tree into her second-floor bedroom windows.

Siding was torn from her shed and a cover for her water system was tossed down the street. “But surprisingly, my son’s wheelbarrow is fine,” she said, laughing. “A $20 wheelbarrow and it’s just sitting there.”

Broward County sheriff’s deputy Erica Chace stood in the backyard of her home on 74th Street North surveying the extensive damage to her roof, including large patches of missing shingles. The fascia at the front of her house was pulled away, forming a “U” shape away from the rest of the roof.

“There’s parts of the roof where it’s exposed inside,” she said, watching a neighbor who came to help cover the roof as more rain is expected for the next few days.

Missing from Chace’s yard: her lawn furniture and a yellow recycling bin. “I think some of my lawn furniture may be in the pond,” she said. “I found some cushions kind of floating in there.”

Chace, who with her husband and two Yorkshire terriers has lived in the home since January, said she heard a massive amount of wind and thunder early this morning. “I thought my roof, that the whole top of my house was going to go flying off,” she said.

After working for BSO through Hurricane Irma, Chace said this morning’s weather was worse. “I’ve never experienced anything like this,” the lifelong Floridian said.

Across the street, Lazaro Santos was picking up pieces of his farm yard. He also was missing something, albeit much larger: a 700-pound shed that sheltered his 9-year-old mare. “I don’t know where it is,” he said, gesturing to the sky. “It’s just gone.”

Santos was asleep when the storm began moving through. He woke up to his burglar alarm going off, and walked out to see his back doors trying to open inward as his front doors were sucked open. “All of the windows started rattling,” he said. “I brought my kids in my closet and within seconds it was over.”

UPDATE 7:40 A.M.: A flood advisory has been issued for northeastern Palm Beach County in effect until 9 a.m.

National Weather Service forecasters are warning of heavy rain from thunderstorms that could cause minor flooding in areas of Palm Beach Gardens, Wellington, Royal Palm Beach and Loxahatchee Groves where up to 3 inches of rain has already fallen.

A marine warning has also been issued for coastal areas from Riviera Beach to Tequesta as strong thunderstorms begin moving on shore. Forecasters warn waterspouts and suddenly higher waves are possible with these storms. The warning is in effect until 8:15 a.m.

A tropical disturbance that has been given a 40 percent chance of developing over the next five days has already dumped incredible amounts of rain in Palm Beach County and triggered a tornado warning this morning.

The tornado warning for areas near Lion Country Safari Park, or seven miles west of Wellington, expired at 6:30 a.m. with the thunderstorm moving into Martin County, but National Weather Service forecasters in Miami are continuing to monitor other potentially dangerous storms. A tornado warning has been issued for Central Martin County until 7:30 a.m.

LIVE RADAR: Check The Palm Beach Post’s radar map.

About 351 customers in Palm Beach County are without power this morning, but it’s unclear if any of the outages are storm related.

More than 4 inches of rain has fallen in parts of Palm Beach County since showers began Sunday morning, according to the South Florida Water Management District.

That includes 4.39 inches in Boynton Beach, 3.9 inches in Lake Worth, 2.9 inches in North Palm Beach, 2 inches in Jupiter, 2.5 inches in Delray Beach, 3.6 inches in suburban Boca Raton, and 2.65 inches in Boca Raton.

The official National Weather Service gauge at Palm Beach International Airport recorded .97 inches through midnight.

But other coastal areas in West Palm Beach recorded higher amounts. Just east of the airport, more than 2 inches was recorded on my home gauge. Palm Beach Post Editor Carolyn DiPaolo received 3 inches as of this morning.

The National Hurricane Center identified the low pressure system bringing all this rain Sunday as a potential tropical system, giving it a 40 percent chance of formation over the next five days and a 30 percent chance over two days.

WEATHER LOVERS: Be in the know with our weekly WeatherPlus newsletter. Sign up now!

An update from hurricane center forecasters is expected by 11 a.m., but meteorologists said Sunday they don’t expect much more than heavy rain and some thunderstorms from the system, regardless of whether it develops.

This GOES East satellite image clearly shows the thunderstorm erupting over Palm Beach County that triggered the tornado warming this morning.

“At this point the intensity doesn’t matter because it already is what it’s going to be – a big blob of rain,” said Dave Samuhel, a senior meteorologist for AccuWeather. “It’s going to have some wind, but mostly a lot of rain that will open a channel of moisture over Florida all week.”

6 a.m. UPDATE: The tornado warning has been extended until 6:30 a.m.

Just before 6 a.m. a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado was 9 miles west of North County Airport, or 11 miles southwest of Indiantown. It was moving northwest at 15 miles per hour.

Original story: A severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado was located near The Acreage, 8 miles north of Wellington and moving at 20 miles per hour.

The warning covers Palm Beach Gardens, The Acreage, Loxahatchee Groves and Caloosa.

The warning, issued by the National Weather Service, is in effect until 6 a.m.

The weather service is asking that people move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building and avoid windows. If you are outdoors, in a mobile
home, or in a vehicle, move to the closest shelter and
protect yourself from flying debris.

Hurricane center eyes first possible tropical system of 2018

The National Hurricane Center has identified the first potential tropical system of 2018, giving an area of storminess in the Gulf of Mexico a 40 percent chance of formation over the next five days.

The disturbance, which would be named Alberto if it forms up, has a 30 percent chance of developing into a tropical or subtropical system over the next 48 hours.

Forecasters have been watching the area in the eastern Gulf of Mexico for days as a dipping jet stream was expected to give a developing area of low pressure some energy.

LIVE RADAR: Check The Palm Beach Post’s radar map.

“At this point the intensity doesn’t matter because it already is what it’s going to be – a big blob of rain,” said Dave Samuhel, a senior meteorologist for AccuWeather. “It’s going to have some wind, but mostly a lot of rain that will open a channel of moisture over Florida all week.”

Weather Underground co-founder Jeff Masters predicted Friday that a subtropical or tropical system could form up by Wednesday near the coast of the Panhandle.

That would be two weeks before the official June 1 start date of the hurricane season.

GOES 16 satellite image through 5:30 p.m.

“Sea surface temperatures off the coast of the Florida Panhandle are near 77 degrees – a little cooler than is typically needed to see a tropical depression form, but plenty warm enough to support formation of a subtropical depression,” Masters said in a Friday blog.

A subtropical storm typically has its fastest winds further from its core and may not carry as much rainfall as a tropical storm. A tropical storm also has more pure thunderstorms wrapping around its core, which increases its potential for strengthening.

WEATHER LOVERS: Be in the know with our weekly WeatherPlus newsletter. Sign up now!

“This one has a pretty low ceiling for its upper-level potential,” Samuhel said about the disturbance in the Gulf.

The National Hurricane Center expects the area of low pressure to move slowly north during the next few days, hugging the west coast of the state.

For the past three years, tropical systems have formed before the June 1 start date of hurricane season.

Tropical Storm Arlene formed in April 2017. In 2016, Hurricane Alex formed in January, followed by Tropical Storm Bonnie spinning up in May. Tropical Storm Ana formed in May 2015.

A leading hurricane forecast from Colorado State University released in April predicted a slightly above normal season this year, but an early storm isn’t necessarily an indicator of that.

In 2012, two tropical storms occurred in May — Alberto and Beryl. That turned out to be a busy year with 19 named storms and 10 hurricanes. But in 2015 Tropical Storm Ana formed in May, and there were just 11 named storms and four hurricanes that year.

The next forecast from the National Hurricane Center is scheduled to be released at 11 a.m. Monday.

If you haven’t yet, join Kim on Facebook Instagram and Twitter .

UPDATE, 4 p.m.: An area of cloudiness, showers and thunderstorms making its way through the southeastern Gulf of Mexico could have an impact on what promises to already be a wet early part of next week for Palm Beach County.

The National Hurricane Center reports that the area — which could acquire subtropical or tropical characteristics as it moves northward through the gulf — may “enhance rainfall across portions of Florida … during the next few days.”

There’s a 40 percent chance the disturbance could form into a tropical or subtropical system in the next five days, giving us an early start to the tropical weather season.

UPDATE, 12:30 p.m.: The National Weather Service’s significant weather advisory has expired, although several rain areas continue to move through Palm Beach County.

The rain is expected to continue through the evening. The National Weather Service expects between 1 and 2 inches to fall through the night.

According to updated numbers from the National Weather Service, between three and four inches of rain are expected for coastal Palm Beach County through Wednesday morning.

UPDATE, 11:15 a.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a significant weather advisory for Palm Beach and northern Broward counties until 11:45 a.m.

The area of concern is a line of storms extending “from the Port of Palm Beach to 14 miles northwest of Parkland to nine miles northeast of the Miccosukee Service Plaza (along Florida’s Turnpike),” according to the advisory.

The communities mentioned cover north and central Palm Beach County, west to Lion Country Safari.

The advisory warns of winds in excess of 45 mph and possible funnel clouds.

UPDATE, 11 a.m.: A streak of heavy rain is making its way through central Palm Beach County, with more expected for the rest of the day. The rain is moving in a northwest direction, according to Palm Beach Post radar.

ORIGINAL STORY: Mother’s Day may be a wet day for brunch, with rain expected to begin around 11 a.m. on the coast, according to the National Weather Service.

Some smaller storms have already begun to pop up west of Boynton Beach near U.S. 441, according to Palm Beach Post radar.

According to the weather service, there may be gusts up to 25 mph and locally heavy rain in the next few hours. This rain is expected to be the start of several days of soaking weather through Wednesday.

A recent weather service graphic shows the heaviest amount of rain will be coming down from West Palm Beach north through Jupiter. Jupiter is expected to get nearly 3 1/2 inches through Wednesday, while West Palm south to Boca Raton is expected to get more than three.

According to the weather service’s high-end prediction, there is a 10 percent chance these areas could get up to 5 inches of rain through Wednesday.

As it did Friday, the Weather Prediction Center of the NWS has Palm Beach County within an area of marginal risk — between 5 and 10 percent — for rainfall “exceeding flash flood guidance”. That means there’s a small chance rain will be heavy enough to cause some flooding.

SunFest weather day 4: Scattered showers, thunderstorms possible

Fans enjoy the BB&T fireworks display at the end of SunFest in downtown West Palm Beach on May 7, 2017. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Summer weather — including rain and thunderstorms — once again will be a factor at SunFest on its final day for 2018.

During the afternoon, with major acts including Third Eye Blind and DNCE on stage, the National Weather Service predicts showers and thunderstorms are possible. The chance of precipitation is 50 percent. Temperatures will be in the mid-80s.

Palm Beach Post radar shows a number of storms making their way through the area. mostly keeping to the west.

CHECK The Palm Beach Post live radar map. 

Now, as for tonight — and the all-important fireworks — the chance of rain drops a little bit, along with the temperatures. It’ll be in the low 70s, the weather service predicts.

BREAKING: Hurricane center issues special forecast for system near Bahamas

The National Hurricane Center has issued a special tropical weather forecast for an area of low pressure near the Bahamas, but is giving it no chance of development.

The forecast says the system will move westward over Florida tomorrow with locally heavy rains and gusty winds for portions of the Bahamas and South Florida.

Chances for development are zero for both the 48-hour and 5-day time periods.

Hurricane experts have been watching the system carefully for development. If it formed up, it would be the first tropical system of the 2018 hurricane season and be named Alberto.

WEATHER INSIDER: Like this story? Want more? Sign up for our newsletter

If Alberto did form, it would follow a 3-year trend of tropical systems that formed before the official June 1 start date of hurricane season.

Tropical Storm Arlene formed in April 2017. In 2016, Hurricane Alex formed in January, followed by Tropical Storm Bonnie spinning up in May. Tropical Storm Ana formed in May 2015.

Storms that form early in the year outside of the deep tropics are not a foreshadowing to a busier hurricane season.

In 2012, two tropical storms occurred in May — Alberto and Beryl. That turned out to be a busy year with 19 named storms and 10 hurricanes. But in 2015 Tropical Storm Ana formed in May, and there were just 11 named storms and four hurricanes.

WEATHER INSIDER: Like this story? Want more? Sign up for our newsletter

GOES-16 satellite image of an upper-level low pressure system near the Bahamas.

If you haven’t yet, join Kim on Instagram and Twitter.

Dust from Halley’s comet hits Earth this weekend

A waning gibbous moon lights a darkened sky Sunday, distracting Earth from the modest twinkling of space dust left by the planet’s most celebrated comet.

While Halley’s comet was last seen in 1986 and won’t be visible again until 2061, it reminds the world of its presence twice a year with the Eta Aquariid meteor shower in May and Orionid meteor shower in October.

The Eta Aquariid shower peaks in the pre-dawn hours Sunday, but a blazing grain of Halley’s comet may be seen before and after the peak date.

Coastal South Florida is not considered an ideal viewing area for meteor showers, and this year the moon will add to the light pollution. The shower favors the southern hemisphere, but South Florida is close enough for a moderate show in ideal conditions.

Halley’s Comet, perhaps the most famous of all comets, is parent of both the Eta Aquarid meteor shower in May and October’s Orionid meteor shower. Image via NASA.

CHECK The Palm Beach Post live radar map.

At its peak, 20 to 60 Eta Aquariid meteors may be seen per hour. According to NASA, the meteors are known for moving swiftly – about 148,000 mph. Fast meteors can leave glowing trails that last for several seconds to even minutes.

Florida Atlantic University astronomer Eric Vandernoot said the comet Halley (pronounced hal-ee) is a household name because it can be seen without special equipment and makes an appearance about every 76 years.

“There really isn’t any other short-period comet that is visible to the naked eye,” Vandernoot said. “So when it comes, it gets superstar billing.”

Vandernoot said the 1910 passage of Halley’s comet offered stellar views, passing through the comet’s tail. It was more muted in 1986.

WEATHER INSIDER: Like this story? Want more? Sign up for our newsletter.

Halley’s comet was discovered by Edmund Halley in 1705, but is believed to have been recognized for millennia. NASA says the comet is featured in the Bayeux tapestry – an embroidered cloth that depicts the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

“The length of its orbit fits well within a human lifespan,” said Deborah Byrd, editor in chief of Earth and Sky. “So some people, for example, might see Halley’s comet twice in a lifetime. Parents or grandparents might tell their children about seeing it. Over time, it has become well known.”

The weekend’s forecast may also be a deterrent to seeing a particle of Halley’s comet streak across the sky.

Sunday’s forecast includes a 50 to 60 percent chance of rain.

If you haven’t yet, join Kim on Instagram and Twitter.