Cold front on tap for this weekend, but first more heat, humidity

Near record-high temperatures are expected again this week in South Florida before a New Year’s cold front moves in bringing temperatures back to normal or just below.

According to the National Weather Service in Miami, West Palm Beach broke another overnight warm temperature yesterday when the low hit just 76 degrees. The previous record-warm low was 74 degrees set in 2013.

The strong high pressure system east of Florida is what's causing the abnormal heat and preventing cooler air from coming down.
The strong high pressure system east of Florida is what’s causing the abnormal heat and preventing cooler air from coming down.

Naples set a record high temperature of 87 degrees Sunday, breaking the previous record of 86 from 1942. It was the 5th straight day a record high had been set in Naples.

“More records are likely to be threatened through at least mid-week,” forecasters wrote this morning.

But, by New Year’s Eve, a cold front over the Panhandle should begin to head south.

On New Year’s Day, the high temperature should be closer to 80 degrees, dropping to a high near 70 degrees on Sunday. Also, much drier air will accompany the cool front. Dew point temperatures are going to drop into the 50s, meaning it should feel more like what the mercury actually reads.

This map shows the cool front heading into South Florida on Friday.
This map shows the cool front heading into South Florida on Friday.

Normal high temperatures in late December are 75 degrees in West Palm Beach, with lows in the high 50s.

But the area has not seen temperatures drop below 60 all month. The coolest high temperature this month was 76 degrees.

Today’s high in West Palm Beach is expected to reach 85 degrees. If it does, it will tie a 1968 record.

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Overnight heat record shattered, nearly 20 degrees above normal

Overnight lows dipped only to 77 degrees at Palm Beach International Airport, a new record in a season where temperatures haven’t fallen below 60 degrees yet.

The previous overnight record was 76 degrees set in 2014. The National Weather Service won’t confirm the record until this afternoon, but at 8 a.m. it’s not getting any cooler.

Normal overnight lows for this time of year are 58 degrees – 19 degrees below this morning’s reading.

And it doesn’t look like any break is on the way.

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“This weather is pretty stale all the way through the weekend,” said meteorologist Kurt Van Speybroeck. “Because of the high pressure we’ll continue to see easterly winds off the Atlantic bringing little surges of moisture and humidity this way.”

Christmas Eve will feel more like Easter in Palm Beach County, with high temperatures forecast to reach into the 80s and little break from the hot humid pattern through the weekend.

Read about why this year’s Christmas full moon is so rare here. 

The culprit for the steamy temps this late into December is apersistent high pressure system spinning clockwise over Bermuda and flooding Florida, the mid-Atlantic and New England with warm tropical air.

Meteorologists from the National Weather Service in Miami said Thursday should hit 86 degrees, with Christmas Day cranking up to 85.

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While the warm holiday temperatures in Palm Beach County may not break records — Dec. 25, 1941 was 87 degrees — cities throughout the Mid-Atlantic and New England are expected to top previous heat records Thursday and Friday.

Christmas Day is expected to be near 70 degrees in Washington, D.C., 65 degrees in New York’s Central Park and close to 60 degrees in Boston.

“For millions of people across the southern and eastern U.S., Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day will be the warmest in living memory, and in some cases the warmest in more than a century of record keeping,” wrote meteorologist Bob Henson in a blog for Weather Underground.

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Winter storms preceding a cold front heading east have triggered tornado watches in northeast Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana. Flood watches were in effect Wednesday for parts of central Georgia and the Carolinas.

But that cold front is not expected to reach South Florida. Instead it will be rebuffed by the high pressure system.

“A colleague said it looks more like a summertime pattern, but it’s winter,” Van Speybroeck said.

In Florida, southeast winds gusting to more than 20 mph have forecasters warning of high rip current risks through Sunday off beaches from Miami to Jupiter.

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Long range, Van Speybroeck said there may be a break in the heat closer to the New Year.

“There’s not even any dry air,” he noted. “It’s just very much tropical.”

The normal high temperature for West Palm Beach in late December is 74 degrees, with a low of 59.

For the record, the high temperature on Easter — April 5 — was 84 degrees this year.

Merry mosquito Christmas in South Florida, bloodsuckers abound

Palm Beach County is having to spray for mosquitoes in late December – an unprecedented event triggered by the wet and warm weather.

And not just December, spraying will likely occur on Christmas Day.

The little bloodsuckers are proliferating with the abnormally high rain totals and warm temperatures we’ve had this December. Complaints are flooding mosquito headquarters.

“We’ve had such a strange year with wind and weather,” said Gary Goode, environmental program manager with the Palm Beach County Mosquito Control Division. “We sprayed late last week, but we’re still seeing rain and water on the ground.”

South Florida Water Management District shows Palm Beach County receiving 6.2 inches of rain so far this month. That’s 4.15 inches above the normal for December.

Roland Farrington, with the Mosquito Control Division of Palm Beach County Dept. of Environmental Resources Management, checks a mosquito trap in a swampy area near the Intracoastal Waterway in Delray Beach Wednesday, July 15, 2015. The cooler contains dry ice to attract the mosquitos with carbon dioxide. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Roland Farrington, with the Mosquito Control Division of Palm Beach County Dept. of Environmental Resources Management, checks a mosquito trap in a swampy area near the Intracoastal Waterway in Delray Beach Wednesday, July 15, 2015.  (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

Miami-Dade County is nearly 10 inches above normal, while Broward County is up 5.43 inches.

At the same time, temperatures are running nearly 10 degrees above normal. That promotes more activity among the mosquitoes. Overnight temperatures have hovered in the mid-70s when they are typically in the 50s this time of year.

“We need a hard frost to kill them all off,” Goode said about the mosquitoes. “But it it’s at least cooler, they’ll hunker down and stay in the bushes.”

2013 file photo by Lannis Waters
2013 file photo by Lannis Waters

Hampering efforts to get rid of the pests are windy conditions that mosquito patrol folks don’t normally deal with when they’re spraying in the summer months.

Last week, Goode had hoped to spray about 225,000 acres out west, but didn’t make it all the way through. On Tuesday, Goode tried to do more spraying, but then it started raining.

“We are at the mercy of the weather,” Goode said.

(Greg Lovett/The Palm Beach Post) Lantana--2012. Richard Howe pilots his UH-1 Huey helicopter at 100 miles per hour at 300 feet to spray mosquitoes in Palm Beach County.
(Greg Lovett/The Palm Beach Post) Lantana–2012. Richard Howe pilots his UH-1 Huey helicopter at 100 miles per hour at 300 feet to spray mosquitoes in Palm Beach County.

Will La Nina awaken for 2016 hurricane season? What it means for Florida

The mighty trade winds that ushered ships across the Atlantic when sails and Mother Nature set maritime agendas gave way in 2015 to the westerlies — gales that pile warm Pacific Ocean water against the Americas and signal El Nino.

But like a pendulum, that water will slosh back toward Asia. Trade winds will regain power. The subtropical jet stream that helped kill Atlantic hurricanes will shift south.

And La Nina will awaken.

(05/08/2015) --- This image of Tropical Storm Anna taken from the International Space Station displays the view looking south-southeastward from western Virginia towards storm about 200 miles east of Savannah, Georgia, Bahamas and Florida in the distance. Expedition 43 NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and his crewmates captured many images of the Earth showing the storms progression onto the Carolina's and other east coast states.
(05/08/2015) — This image of Tropical Storm Anna taken from the International Space Station displays the view looking south-southeastward from western Virginia towards storm about 200 miles east of Savannah, Georgia, Bahamas and Florida in the distance. 

Just as El Nino helped protect Florida from tropical cyclones this storm season, hurricane experts are already considering the fate of the U.S. coast in a La Nina year, which 2016 could easily become.

“After a really big El Nino, you seem to transition to La Nina, and it can happen rapidly,” said Bill Patzert, a climatologist at NASA’s jet propulsion laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “The 2015 hurricane season was somewhat benign in the Atlantic, but if La Nina kicks in this coming summer, it could go back to spectacular.”

El Nino works as a hurricane deterrent by using the subtropical jet stream to cut the tops off storms with strong vertical shear — winds moving at different speeds and directions in different levels of the Atmosphere. The eastern Pacific Ocean is warmer than normal as surface waters flow west.

Hurricane Joaquin, Oct. 2 2015
Hurricane Joaquin, Oct. 2 2015

La Nina is marked by strong winds from the east that push warm Atlantic waters toward the U.S., while weaker winds from the west are less able to disrupt storms. The eastern Pacific Ocean is cooler than normal as east winds push surface water toward Asia.

During neutral years – between La Nina and El Nino – ocean temperatures, tropical rainfall patterns and wind patterns are closer to long term averages.

“It’s certainly possible that La Nina could be in place by late autumn (2016), which would favor an active Atlantic hurricane season,” said Bob Henson, a meteorologist and blogger for WeatherUnderground. “The closer we are to La Nina, the more favorable it is for hurricanes to develop in the Atlantic.”

Read more about what the experts think of the 2016 hurricane season here. 

Hot Christmas week with 80-plus temperatures

National Weather Service forecasters are expecting a warm week after the brief reprieve of cooler temperatures over the weekend.

According to Miami meteorologists, today could reach a high of 82 degrees with even warmer temperatures to follow.

By Christmas Day, temperatures should hit 83 degrees, eight degrees above normal.

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“Suffice it to say that Christmas looks very warm for this time of year,” forecasters wrote.

Normal temperatures for this time of year are a high of 75 degrees and lows in the high 50’s.

Overnight low temperatures this week are only expected to dip to 75 degrees.

Forecasters are blaming a high pressure system parked over the the east coast for the above-normal temperatures.

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Anticipated cold front not as cool as first thought

South Florida has been dreaming of Friday afternoon ever since it was discovered that a polar air mass was heading this way to cool off the near-record temperatures the region has experienced this month.

But this morning, the National Weather Service said daytime high temperatures following the cold front on Saturday aren’t going to be as cool as anticipated.

Forecasters put Saturday’s high in West Palm Beach at 77 degrees. That’s still 1 degree above normal for this time of year.

Saturday daytime high in West Palm Beach forecast at 77 degrees
Saturday daytime high in West Palm Beach forecast at 77 degrees

“Guidance has gradually been creeping less cool with temperatures,” meteorologists wrote this morning. “Don’t expect most east coast metropolitan areas to fall below 60 degrees.”

Earlier this week, the high temperature was fluctuating from 69 degrees to 73 degrees in West Palm Beach.

“It looks like it’s not going to be as strong a push from the north as expected,” said Dan Gregoria, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami. “Nothing major happened, it just won’t be as big of a push.”

But don’t despair entirely.

Gregoria said it’s still going to feel incredibly more comfortable and cooler because the dew point temperature will be in the 50’s. That means drier air and less humidity.

The good news -- at least it's still plenty warm enough for the beach. (Post file photo)
The good news — at least it’s still plenty warm enough for the beach. (Post file photo)

“It will be really noticeable,” Gregoria said. “It’s really humid now wo with that lower humidity it will feel pretty nice.”

Anything will be a break from more than a week of temperatures at or above 80 degrees and dew point temperatures in the 70’s.

Still, Gregoria warned not to get accustomed to the drier air.

“People should enjoy it while they can because next week it’s going to be warm,” he said.

By Tuesday, the high temperature will be back in the mid-80’s.

Today, the high in West Palm Beach is expected to be 86 degrees. That’s getting close to the record of 87 degrees set in 1925.

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Scorcher III for West Palm Beach before cool front arrives

West Palm Beach is expected to reach a high of near 85 degrees today, and be even warmer tomorrow before a cool front approaches Friday.

Thursday’s high temperature could hit 86 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

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NWS forecasters said this morning the cold front is expected to be knocking on South Florida’s door midday Friday.

“There is also good agreement from the models on the magnitude of cooling behind the front,” forecasters wrote. “Temperatures Saturday morning could reach the upper 40’s in parts of Glades and west Hendry counties..

Coastal Palm Beach County is more likely to see lower 60’s with upper 50’s in the western areas of the county.

By Saturday, the high may only be near 70 and overnight lows could dip again to 60 degrees.

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The normal high temperature for this time of year in West Palm Beach is 76 degrees, so we’ve been running nearly 10 degrees above normal.

Today’s record high in West Palm Beach is 86 degrees, so we could come close to breaking the record set in 1927.

Florida is on track for 2015 to be the hottest year on record. South Florida has been running about 3 degrees above normal, hence, the scorcher reference.

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2016 hurricane season, 97% chance of named storm hitting U.S.

Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science stopped doing quantitative December hurricane forecasts for pending storm seasons in 2012.

But researchers are still issuing a more qualitative discussion of the factors that will influence the 2016 hurricane season, including the climatological chances that the U.S. and individual states will get hit by a tropical storm, hurricane or major hurricane.

This year’s discussion, released last week, relies on two main events for its hurricane predictions; whether El Nino will remain a strong influence through summer next year and the potency of the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation (AMO).

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El Nino is known to knock down hurricanes by creating strong westerly wind shear, such as we saw during the 2015 hurricane season.

The AMO is a longer-term phenomenon that impacts sea-surface temperatures. Warm sea surface temperatures are like candy to growing hurricanes.

While CSU’s study, which was written by hurricane expert Philip Kotzbach with assistance from William Gray, looks generally at four scenarios affecting hurricane frequency and strength, it also gives climatological landfall probabilities for 2016. The probabilities are long term chances, taking into account data from the 20th century.

“While we are not issuing a quantitative forecast in this early outlook, we can still provide interested readers with the climatological probabilities of landfall for various portions of the United States coastline,” Klotzbach wrote.

For all of the U.S., Klotzbach said there is a 97 percent chance of a named storm making landfall. That could mean a tropical storm, hurricane or major hurricane.

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Last week’s discussion also gives the climatological probabilities that a hurricane or major hurricane will impact specific states.

Climatological chance for a hurricane landfall in 2016
Climatological probabilities for a hurricane landfall in 2016.

Klotzbach notes that none of the 27 major hurricanes that have formed since Wilma in 2005 made a U.S. landfall.

“The 10-year period that the U.S. has gone without any major landfalls exceeds the previous record of eight years set between 1861 and 1868,” he wrote.

But why?

“There is obviously a luck component that has played a significant role,” Klotzbach said.

He explains another part of why in a blog for the Capital Weather Gang written with Brian McNoldy. Basically an exploration of how an east coast low pressure system may be steering hurricanes away from the U.S.

Florida is singled out as being “remarkably lucky” to have not been impacted by a hurricane since Wilma. Klotzbach said there has been a marked decrease in hurricanes hitting the Florida peninsula over the past 50 years.

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Bob Henson, a meteorologist and blogger for Weather Underground said CSU’s recent discussion makes him even more “eager to see how this very uncertain hurricane season will unfold.”

“As one would expect, the skill of these outlooks steadily improves as the hurricane season nears,” he wrote in a blog last week.  “Even if it’s too soon right now to expect an accurate forecast for 2016, the latest thoughts from CSU make me even more eager to see how this very uncertain hurricane season will unfold.”