From air conditioning to open windows, South Florida saw a whipsaw of temperatures the past 24 hours, including a record-breaking high Monday in Miami.
The preliminary low temperature this morning as measured at Palm Beach International Airport was 56 degrees, that’s about normal for this time of year, but a whopping 17 degrees below Monday’s morning low of 73 degrees.
The high temperature in Palm Beach County today should linger below 70 degrees with another cool night of in the mid-50s toward the coast and possibly dipping into the 40s further inland.
Normal temperatures this time of year are 75 degrees for a high and 57 degrees for a low.
“Another period of breezy, dry, and somewhat cool weather will be in place across South Florida through mid week,” National Weather Service forecasters wrote in a morning forecast. “The northerly flow component currently in place has ushered in enough cooler air to keep high temperatures today and tomorrow below normal in the upper 60s and 70s.”
Winds turn east Wednesday with gusts as high as 21 mph.
That means rip currents will be a concern at Atlantic beaches. Forecasters have issued a high rip current risk through Wednesday evening. A small craft advisory is also in effect through Wednesday morning.
In a National Hurricane Center report released last week on Hurricane Harvey,which hit Texas in August as a Category 4 storm, officials lament the 65 lives lost to freshwater flooding but tout the lack of storm surge deaths even as up to 10 feet of hurricane-driven saltwater charged ashore.
But it wasn’t just Harvey. Hurricane center officials said no storm surge deaths are believed to have occurred in hurricanes Irma or Maria — both Category 4s — or Category 1 Hurricane Nate, which landed near Biloxi, Miss. on Oct. 8.
The lack of storm surge deaths is being attributed by the NHC to its new storm surge watch and warning system, which debuted operationally with Harvey. While the system is not yet used in Puerto Rico, emergency managers had hurricane center-provided maps in order to make evacuation decisions based on storm surge.
“We can argue that what caused it was luck, chance, geography, but you would be hard pressed to convince me it happened by itself,” said NHC storm surge specialist Jamie Rhome about the absence of storm surge deaths. “Somewhere along the way, this 10-year effort moved the needle.”
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has responded to concerns that state-sanctioned Burmese python hunts are cruel and may be causing undue suffering on the invasive species.
In a letter this month to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, FWC defends the programs that encourage contractors and members of the public to remove the damaging snakes from the Everglades ecosystem.
“Members of the public are encouraged to lethally remove pythons to help reduce the threat of this species to our native ecosystem,” wrote Harold “Bud” Vielhauer in a letter to PETA dated Jan. 5.
PETA complained about the hunts last month after articles were written about the record 17-foot snake captured by Jason Leon, a contract hunter for the South Florida Water Management District.
A video taken by water management district officials shows Leon explaining how he caught the python and shot it in the head and later in the neck.
PETA said the only humane way to euthanize a python is with a “penetrating captive-bolt gun or gunshot to the brain.
“Proper positioning for the penetration of the captive-bolt or firearm projectile is critical because of the unique physiological characteristics of reptiles, who require immediate destruction of the brain in order to avoid undue pain and suffering,’” wrote Lori Kettler, PETA deputy general counsel.
PETA requested an investigation into the water management district’s program, and others overseen by the FWC.
Since the district’s python elimination program began in March 2017, 877 snakes have been removed from the Everglades.
Vielhauer explains that the commission is committed to “engaging the public in Everglades conservation through invasive species removal,” and mentions no intent to initiate an investigation.
“The Burmese python is an invasive species that has become established in South Florida, including the Florida Everglades and poses a serious threat to native wildlife,” Vielhauer wrote.
Florida invasive species experts have said the water management district’s python hunt has been the most successful in catching the voracious predators and bringing attention to the problem.
A native to Asia, the Burmese python is considered one of the largest snakes in the world. FWC’s website says it was likely introduced into the Everglades by accident or intentional releases by pet owners. While not venomous, “the giant constrictors have thrived, assuming a top position on the food web.”
In a statement, the district says all python killings “must be conducted in a humane manner.”
“Rules of the Python Elimination Program direct all participating hunters to follow American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines in the eradication of these snakes,” the statement said. “District staff review all claims/complaints levied against the program’s hunters and will continue to enforce the rules of the program.”
On winter’s east winds they come, floating sapphire jewels with a venomous sting that lasts long after they’ve washed ashore.
Portuguese man-of-war, so named for the ship-shaped balloon that keeps them buoyant, have been spotted on Palm Beach County beaches in recent weeks with lifeguards warning to steer clear of the grape-colored sea creatures.
“We fly the purple flags pretty frequently in winter,” said Town of Palm Beach Ocean Rescue lifeguard Taylor Jantz, referring to the caution flag alerting to the presence of threatening beach pests. “While a jellyfish sting can feel like a mosquito bite, a man-of-war can create a much harsher reaction.”
Tentacles stacked with coiled, barbed tubes of venom stream out as far as 100 feet from the man-of-war’s gas-filled sail, packing a sting that can swell lymph nodes, cause nausea, and, in extreme cases, cause trouble breathing.
Earlier this month, a woman swimming at Phil Foster Park in Riviera Beach became entangled in man-of-war tentacles and had to be taken to the hospital, according to Steve Kaes, a training officer for Palm Beach County Ocean Rescue South District.
“She was having trouble breathing,” Kaes said. “The more parts of your body it covers, the more stressful it is.”
The man-of-war uses its venomous tentacles to paralyze and kill small fish.
Although often confused with a jellyfish, the man-of-war is actually a siphonophore, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A siphonophore is comprised of different organisms with various functions all working together as one.
While serious reactions to a man-of-war sting are rare, if the tentacles get wrapped around a person, they can stick to the skin, causing lines of red welts that can last for several days. Tentacles can still cause stings after being broken up in rough surf or even after the man-of-war washes ashore and dies.
Surface high pressure over the Eastern Seaboard and western Atlantic Ocean during winter months contributes to persistent east-northeasterly winds, said Robert Molleda, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Miami.
“These high pressure areas are typically stronger in the winter, so that often leads to stronger east winds,” Molleda said.
With winds turned north following Tuesday’s cold front, there weren’t as many man-of-war on Palm Beach’s Midtown beach Wednesday, but Jantz said she had buried several to keep them away from people strolling the shore where they often get caught in the wrack line.
“Avoid the tentacles, they can stretch out a long, long way,” Kaes said. “The most important thing is to tell children they aren’t toys.”
Tara Smith, of Delray Beach, said she was at a private beach Monday when she noticed her 6-year-old son Harrison shoveling something blue into a pile.
“I thought it was strange and from a distance thought they were water bottles,” Smith said. “But my younger daughter Lexi and him ran to go get me and I saw he was shoveling a ton of man-of-war into a pile.”
Smith said her children weren’t stung, but that the beach was littered with man-of-war.
While lifeguards write on beach condition chalkboards when man-of-war are present, Jantz said people often don’t know what they are or what to look for. Sharks they understand, but the purple critters on the beach seem less threatening.
Children will pop the sails like balloons, which can sting their hands or feet, Jantz said
“Whether they are dry or wet, those toxings are still living,” Jantz said. “They’re beautiful to look at, but can really hurt.”
The Florida Poison Control Center recommends treating the sting by washing the area with sea water, vinegar or alcohol, and scraping off any remaining tentacles.
National Weather Service meteorologists in Miami are giving today a 40 percent chance of rain, with the Storm Prediction Center forecasting thunderstorms this afternoon as the front approaches.
The map below shows the front’s location at 1 p.m. today.
“At this point, it doesn’t look like we are looking at severe weather, but it’s not out of the question that there might be an isolated strong thunderstorm,” said Chris Fisher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami.
The front should be into the Florida Straits by early tomorrow morning, with north winds cooling high temperatures Wednesday to 75 degrees.
By Thursday, the high temperature will reach about 70 degrees as skies clear and low temperatures dip back to normal in the upper-50s.
One year ago the same region identified for thunderstorms today was under an “enhanced” risk for severe weather. The Storm Prediction Center’s “enhanced” category is the third most severe on a five-level scale.
The elevated alert level was for good reason. Two tornadoes embedded in a powerful squall line ahead of a cold front hit areas of The Acreage, Palm Beach Gardens and Juno Beach in the early morning of Jan. 23, 2017. The tornadoes blew out windows, mangled bleachers at The Benjamin School, damaged fences at W.T. Dwyer High School and left about 14,000 people without power.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V 411 rocket is scheduled for liftoff tonight after a technical problem forced the mission to be scrubbed Thursday.
Tonight’s 40-minute launch window opens at 7:48 p.m. from Space Launch Complex-41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The rocket is carrying a Space Based Infrared System satellite into geosynchronous orbit to provide “persistent infrared surveillance.”
The 45th Weather Squadron said the biggest concerns for tonight’s launch are a possible build up of cumulus clouds. But forecasters said the weather is 90 percent favorable for a launch.
Partly cloudy skies are forecast for South Florida tonight, giving residents a chance to see the rocket liftoff.
Check the ULA website for updated information on the launch or follow it on Twitter.
#AtlasV#SBIRS GEO Flight 4 mission was scrubbed today due to a ground issue associated with the booster liquid oxygen system. Launch is planned for Friday, Jan. 19. The forecast shows a 90% chance of favorable weather for launch. The launch time is 7:48 p.m. ET. pic.twitter.com/BWbg6iJJjM
Update 2:40 p.m.: Temperatures throughout Palm Beach County plummeted into the 30s Thursday morning, marking the first time since 2014 that the official temperature in West Palm Beach sunk below 40 degrees twice in one month.
The reading at Palm Beach International Airport bottomed out at 39 degrees near dawn Thursday. That followed a 38-degree morning on Jan. 4.
According to NWS records, it was January 2014 the last time temperatures at the airport dipped below 40 degrees twice.
“If it’s going to get cold, January and early February are the times when we expect to see it,” said Dan Kottlowski, an AccuWeather senior meteorologist. “This year the sweaters and jackets have had to come out.”
Previous story: The powerful cold front that swept through South Florida overnight has dropped temperatures into the 30s extending from metro areas of Palm Beach County to Lake Okeechobee.
At 7 a.m., the temperature at Palm Beach International Airport was 39 degrees, with gauges in Wellington ranging from the mid to upper-30s.
Jupiter was at just 36 degrees at 7:20 a.m.
The forecast low this morning at the airport was 43 degrees, but a brisk northwest wind helped pull the arctic air that tormented much of the southeast earlier this week further into the Peninsula.
Larry Kelly, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said cloudless skies overnight added to the colder temperatures.
Without clouds, the Earth loses its heat more quickly. Clouds act like heaters, emitting downwelling radiation that keeps temperatures at the surface warmer.
“Mostly clear skies, dry conditions, and a cold airmass will help to lower minimum temperatures near Lake Okeechobee to the lower 30s,” National Weather Service forecasters in Miami reported this morning. “Maximum temperatures may struggle to reach the upper 50s by Lake Okeechobee and lower 60s elsewhere.”
Brisk northerly winds will bring chilly weather to South Florida today. Expect high temperatures from the upper 50s in the interior to lower 60s along the east coast metro region. #FLwxpic.twitter.com/sUveNzNErY
A wind chill advisory remains in effect for areas of Palm Beach County west of Interstate 95 through 10 a.m.
Hundley Farms Vice President John S. Hundley, who grows sugar cane and vegetables east of Belle Glade, said temperatures hit 32 degrees in some areas, but he hasn’t determined if much damage occurred.
“Could be colder tonight because no wind. Conflicting weather reports right now,” Hundley said. “If we have cloud cover, even a little bit, it could save us.”
The 39-degree reading at PBIA this morning is 18 degrees below what’s normal for this time of year.
“We’ve gotten spoiled into thinking winters aren’t as harsh as they should be, but this winter so far has proved us wrong,” said Dan Kottlowski, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather. “You go through two to three years of warm winters and people get meteorological amnesia.”
This is the fourth significant cold front to hit South Florida since mid-December.
At Roth Farms, east of Belle Glade, cosmetic damage was a concern this morning, but the bigger challenge is the more time it’s taking for crops to mature.
“Radishes are taking an extra week to be ready to harvest with the recent cold,” said Ryan Roth, Roth Farms vice president.
Here are temperatures from throughout the county. To read this report “1 S Jupiter” is 1 mile south of Jupiter.
...Palm Beach County...
1 S Jupiter 36 F 0720 AM 01/18 26.90N/80.10W
Jupiter 36 F 0734 AM 01/18 26.94N/80.11W
2 ESE Belle Glade 36 F 0715 AM 01/18 26.67N/80.63W
4 NNW Boca Raton Equestrian 36 F 0732 AM 01/18 26.50N/80.22W
3 SE Belle Glade 37 F 0700 AM 01/18 26.66N/80.63W
3 WSW Wellington 37 F 0714 AM 01/18 26.65N/80.29W
3 NW Haverhill 37 F 0731 AM 01/18 26.72N/80.16W
2 S Juno Beach 37 F 0720 AM 01/18 26.84N/80.05W
Juno Beach 38 F 0727 AM 01/18 26.89N/80.06W
3 WNW Sandalfoot Cove 38 F 0720 AM 01/18 26.36N/80.24W
Delray Beach 38 F 0720 AM 01/18 26.46N/80.08W
1 E Boynton Beach 38 F 0718 AM 01/18 26.53N/80.07W
2 SSE Lake Worth 39 F 0728 AM 01/18 26.58N/80.06W
2 ESE Boca Raton Equestrian 39 F 0720 AM 01/18 26.43N/80.16W
1 ENE Aberdeen Golf Course 39 F 0737 AM 01/18 26.57N/80.14W
1 N Greenacres City 39 F 0708 AM 01/18 26.66N/80.14W
1 SSE Riviera Beach 39 F 0709 AM 01/18 26.76N/80.07W
3 SSE Aberdeen Golf Course 39 F 0729 AM 01/18 26.52N/80.15W
1 W Ocean Ridge 39 F 0722 AM 01/18 26.53N/80.07W
2 NW West Palm Beach 39 F 0729 AM 01/18 26.73N/80.08W
Ilnternational Airport 39 F 0653 AM 01/18 26.68N/80.10W
2 SSW Ocean Ridge 40 F 0700 AM 01/18 26.50N/80.07W
1 ENE Haverhill 40 F 0727 AM 01/18 26.70N/80.10W
3 NNE Boynton Beach 40 F 0731 AM 01/18 26.57N/80.08W
2 NNE Lake Worth 40 F 0733 AM 01/18 26.66N/80.05W
2 WNW Delray Beach 40 F 0731 AM 01/18 26.48N/80.12W
2 E Royal Palm Beach 40 F 0733 AM 01/18 26.71N/80.19W
2 NE Palm Springs 40 F 0700 AM 01/18 26.65N/80.07W
4 NNW Boca Raton Equestrian 40 F 0700 AM 01/18 26.50N/80.22W
Boynton Beach 41 F 0734 AM 01/18 26.53N/80.08W
2 ENE Lake Worth 41 F 0732 AM 01/18 26.64N/80.04W
2 NNW Boca Raton 41 F 0729 AM 01/18 26.39N/80.11W
1 WNW Boca West 41 F 0720 AM 01/18 26.39N/80.19W
1 S Juno Beach 41 F 0700 AM 01/18 26.86N/80.06W
1 NE Boca Raton 41 F 0713 AM 01/18 26.37N/80.09W
Canal Point 43 F 0700 AM 01/18 26.86N/80.63W
2 WNW Sandalfoot Cove 45 F 0728 AM 01/18 26.36N/80.24W
An ambitious project to protect Treasure Coast waterways from rashes of damaging algae reached its first benchmark last week, meeting a deadline as tight as a gator’s bite, but now faces critics who decry it as shortsighted and discriminatory against the Miccosukee Indian Tribe.
The billion-dollar plan, slated for state-owned land in western Palm Beach County, includes sending Lake Okeechobee overflow into an above-ground bowl formed by berms up to 37-feet high to reduce freshwater discharges into the brackish ecosystems of the St. Lucie Estuary.
It is also touted as a partial answer to environmentalists’ refrain to send the water south into the greater Everglades — the natural path before man scarred Florida’s revered River of Grass with canals, roads and homes cut into marshland.
That watershed feeds into the lands of the Miccosukee, who fear receiving harmful nutrient-laden water tainted by agriculture north of the lake.
The tribe sent a letter to South Florida Water Management District Executive Director Ernie Marks the same day the district’s proposal was due to state lawmakers saying the plan — mandated by legislation passed in 2017 — discriminates against the Miccosukee in favor of the Treasure Coast.
“Clearly, the purpose of the legislation is to reduce the high volume of polluted water from being discharged into the northern estuaries,” wrote Billy Cypress, tribe chairman. “While we do advocate for ‘shared adversity,’ it seems time after time, the only adversity is that which is imposed on Tribal lands.”
National Weather Service forecasters in Miami said a lack of clouds Wednesday night should allow temperatures to fall into the mid 30s west of Lake Okeechobee, low 40s for much of interior South Florida and low 50s along the east coast.
By Friday, winds in South Florida will turn to the northeast, which typically acts to moderate temperature and increase moisture with air flowing in from over the Atlantic.
Today, gusty northeasterly winds will bring a high risk of rip currents along the Atlantic beaches and hazardous boating conditions. The NWS has issued alerts for a high rip current risk and small craft advisory through this evening.
The cold front Wednesday is part of a winter storm dubbed Inga by The Weather Channel that could bring snow as far south as Tallahassee where the possibility of “wintry precipitation” is in the forecast for tonight. That is forecast to change to “mostly/all snow by early Wednesday morning” in areas of northwestern Florida.
“It’s pretty unusual that our office would be dealing with two winter events in such quick succession,” said Mark Wool, a meteorologist in the Tallahassee office of the NWS. “We’ve just had a very amplified storm track across the nation where the jet stream dips well south and helps bring the winter systems across the southern states.”
Low temperatures in North Florida behind the front could drop into the 20s with the daytime highs “near or below freezing”
South Florida won’t see the front push through until Wednesday night, leaving early Wednesday morning with the coolest temperatures.
The National Weather Service has extended the flood watch across all of South Florida to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Forecasters say the tropical disturbance largely responsible for the unusually high amount of moisture across the area the past couple of days has moved over north central Florida, but continues to send juicy air toward Palm Beach County.
In its afternoon forecast discussion, meterologists said to expect periods of light to moderate rain throughout the evening. Though rain coverage may drop some overnight, forecasters say rain chances on Sunday remain high enough that flooding remains a threat.
Rain chances are expected to drop back to seasonable levels after Sunday, with rain and storms generally being pushed along by afternoon sea-breeze boundaries.
The tropical disturbance was given a 50 percent chance of forming into a cyclone by the National Hurricane Center within five days, especially after it moves northeast off Florida and into the Atlantic Ocean.
ORIGINAL STORY: A tropical disturbance slowly making its way across central and southern Florida will help keep Palm Beach County in line for another dreary day.
The National Weather Service’s Miami office has issued a flood watch for the county through 8 p.m. today as the heaviest rains of the weekend are expected to fall.
The morning likely will be dry. “But we do expect that showers and thunders will develop on and off throughout the rest of the day,” said meteorologist Chris Fisher.
The county may see up to three inches of rain, though the heaviest rain likely will fall in localized pockets and particularly affect areas that are low-lying or have poor drainage.
“It won’t be raining all day but there will be periods of moderate to heavy rain at times,” Fisher said.
Saturday’s forecast calls for a 90 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms in Palm Beach County. Expect highs in the upper 80s, lows in the mid 70s and southwest winds around 5-10 mph.
» Check The Palm Beach Post radar map
The tropical disturbance currently on Florida’s west coast had only a 30 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression, or Tropical Storm Irma, by Sunday, but a 50 percent chance of doing so once it moved northeast away from South Florida early next week.
Storm 2017: Get the latest on the tropics
The weekend’s rain will be a minor inconvenience compared to Hurricane Harvey, which came ashore late Friday in Texas. It is the first hurricane in a dozen years to strike the U.S. mainland as a “major” hurricane, of at least Category 3 on the 1-5 Saffir-Simpson Scale, with top sustained winds of at least 111 mph. The last: Wilma in South Florida in 2005.