The coverage of storms today will depend on how much Saharan air makes it into the area. With enough surface moisture present, meteorologists said there will be some locally heavy rainfall and gusty winds up to 40 mph.
“The threat for strong storms today will not be as high as recent days,” Miami forecasters wrote in a morning discussion. “The wild card will be how much dry air intrudes during the afternoon which may enhance dry air entrainment in updrafts for some stronger gusy winds in the 40 to 55 mph range.”
The biggest concern with today’s storms is lightning with the strongest rains expected in the interior and west coast of the state.
High temperatures in Palm Beach County are expected to reach 91, which is about normal for this time of year. The heat index, however, could hit 105 near Lake Okeechobee.
Sunday was the first day in 30 days where the high did not hit 90 or above. Sunday’s high reached only 87 degrees in West Palm Beach, which is 3 degrees below normal.
Tuesday is expected to be even drier as the Saharan dust makes it further into the Peninsula.
With plenty of sunshine Tuesday, temperatures are expected to be warmer, ranging in the low 90s on the coast to mid-90s inland.
Heat advisories are possible Tuesday with 105-plus heat index temps across the interior and Gulf coast.
The heavy Saharan dust is being blamed for the lack of tropical activity in the Atlantic basin this hurricane season. But, AccuWeather hurricane expert said there may be a slight chance of something spinning up off the coast of Africa late this week.
The National Hurricane Center said in its most recent forecast that tropical development is not expected during the next five days.
Kottlowski said the chance of a storm is a long shot.
“Any system that tries to get going over the western Atlantic late in the month and into early August will likely struggle with a vast amount of dry air and disruptive winds,” he said.
Two more people were killed by lightning Wednesday, bringing this year’s total to 16.
An Arizona teenager was killed while hiking Humphreys Peak in the northern part of the state. A 23-year-old man died after being struck Tuesday while huddling under a tree on an Arvida, Colo. golf course.
Trees are not good places to seek shelter. Just watch this video to see why.
Wednesday’s deaths follow a brutal volley of lightning strikes swept through the South last week killing five people and sending a sobering reminder that summer thunderstorms can be deadly, especially in Florida.
On Tuesday, two teenagers on Sand Key in Clearwater were injured when a bolt hit nearby, leaving one face down in the sand with no pulse and the other with no memory of what happened.
Vacationing nurse Cassandra Thomas performed CPR on 15-year-old Cameron Poimboeuf until paramedics arrived, said Clearwater Police and Fire Department spokesman Rob Shaw.
“Lightning is a huge concern this time of year,” said Charlie Paxton, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami. “That first clap of thunder is the warning, but sometimes we have to foresee those skies darkening and the possibility of lightning and go inside before the first bolt.”
The five people killed last week included two in Louisiana, and one each in Tennessee, Alabama and North Carolina. Their ages range from 19 to 70, and while two were taking shelter under a tree – an unsafe place to be during a storm – one was just walking to his car, while another had stopped to put on rain gear while riding his motorcycle.
In total, 16 people have now died nationwide from lightning strikes this year. The two most recent deaths occurred in Arizona and Colorado. In Arizona, a 17-year-old was killed while hiking Humphreys Peak in Coconino County. A 23-year-old was struck on Tuesday and later died from his injuries. He was huddling under a tree on a golf course in Arvada, Colo.
Four of the deaths were in Florida, including two Palm Beach County residents. Bechelet Joseph, of Boynton Beach, was killed in April. Lake Worth resident Farooq Mohammad died in March.
“We appreciate anything you can do to make people more aware of lightning,” said John Jensenius, a lightning specialist with the National Weather Service after the fifth person was struck down Saturday in North Carolina.
Florida’s summertime thunderstorms can conjure hundreds of lightning flashes in their brief lives as sea breezes from both coasts stir up the atmosphere.
That’s what happened Tuesday. Paxton said a strong easterly sea breeze moved across the state on a collision with the west coast’s sea breeze. Florida is unique nationwide because the sea breeze invades the peninsula from both coasts.
“When the two collide, things intensify,” Paxton said.
Shaw said the boys injured Tuesday, who are both from North Carolina, were walking on the beach when it started raining at about 4:30 p.m.. They ran for cover, and then the lightning hit.
“It’s a danger those who live here know about and respect. You can practically set your watch by the afternoon storms,” Shaw said. “If you are from out of state, you may not be aware of what they can do.”
Florida ranks tops in the nation for the highest number of days per year with thunderstorms, ranging from 80 along the coast to 100 in a more central region west of Lake Okeechobee.
Last year, 27 people were killed by lightning nationwide. Florida had the highest tally with five deaths.
And with this morning also hitting just 84 degrees, it’s possible a fourth record-breaking day will be christened by the National Weather Service in Miami at midnight, blowing by another 82-degree low set on this day in 2010.
Normal overnight temperatures for mid-July are 76 degrees, but they’ve been hovering closer to 80 since July 1.
“We’ve been setting records at West Palm Beach for a good chunk of the month,” said Larry Kelley, a meteorologist with the NWS in Miami. “West Palm Beach has set or tied eight records so far this month. It would be nine if this morning is a record.”
July 5 through July 8 was a four-day stretch of overnight heat records. July 12 tied the record low for that day of 82 degrees set in 2003.
Update 10:34 a.m.: Tropical Storm Danielle’s winds have strengthened to 45 mph, according to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center.
The storm is about 105 miles north of Veracruz, Mexico and heading west at 7 mph.
Little change in wind speed is expected before landfall later today. The storm should quickly dissipate over land.
Previous story: Tropical Storm Danielle has formed off the coast of Mexico, making it the earliest fourth-named storm in history.
Danielle beats the previous record held by Debby, which formed on June 23, 2012.
The National Hurricane Center says Danielle’s winds have strengthened to 40 mph as it nears Veracruz, Mexico, and could increase in speed before landfall. The storm’s minimum central pressure is 1008 mb.
While Danielle isn’t expected to last long after hitting the coast, it is following a trend this hurricane season of early storms.
Tropical Storm Colin was the earliest third-named storm on record, forming up June 5 before hitting Florida’s panhandle as a messy system that brought high storm surge and flooding rains.
As of 8 a.m., hurricane center forecasters said Danielle has tropical storm force winds extending out 40 miles from center and that rains are already hitting Mexico. While not expected to impact the U.S., it could send waves into Texas that will increase rip current risks.
The biggest concern with Danielle in Mexico is rainfall of up to 15 inches in higher terrain areas that could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides.
Pablo Santos, the meteorologist in charge of the Miami office of the National Weather Service, said frigid temperatures high in the atmosphere are what’s upping the possibility of hail.
“Any thunderstorm in the summer, thousands of feet inside of it, have ice particles,” Santos said. “On days when the mid-level atmosphere gets colder, the vertical motions in thunderstorms are stronger and that allows them to produce bigger ice particles that have a better chance of reaching the ground.”
The difference in temperatures at the surface and high in the atmosphere controls the strength of updrafts in thunderstorms, to some degree.
When updrafts are strong, they can suspend the ice particles longer in the sub-freezing temperatures, giving them a chance to increase in size.
That means they have a better shot of reaching the ground as hailstones rather than water.
“Today is one of those days where the conditions are just a little more favorable for that to happen,” Santos said. “Its a slim chance and nothing would be high impact. It’s not out of the norm to have summer thunderstorms producing small hail.”
Otherwise, the forecast for South Florida is warm and drier along the coast with light winds out of the northeast at five to seven mph this afternoon.
Update 4:55 p.m.:Tropical Storm Colin is looking less like a tropical storm with the worst of its thunderstorms far removed from the center of the cyclone.
While a U.S. Air Force Hurricane Hunter measured top surface winds of 46 mph, the center is keeping the official intensity at 50 mph because the plane did not sample the entire band of thunderstorms. The storm is now moving north northeast at 23 mph with a minimum central pressure of 1002 mb.
The forecast cone for Colin was moved some to the north, but forecasters stressed that the worst of the storms are no where near the center of the storm.
Tropical storm warnings are now in effect through most of North Carolina.
Update 2 p.m.: There have been no changes in Tropical Storm Colin’s wind speed or direction, per the 2 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center. Tropical Storm Colin‘s wind speed or direction, per the 2 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center.
The storm is expected to make landfall later today with 50 mph winds in the Big Bend area of Florida.
But impacts on the west coast are already being felt.
“Heavy rainfall, strong winds, and coastal flooding will begin affecting portions of the Florida peninsula this afternoon well in advance of the center’s nearing the coast,” NHC specialist Daniel Brown wrote in the 11 a.m. update.
The center is not issuing its new storm surge products because those are only used when there is a hurricane watch or warning in effect.
Update 10:15 a.m. The National Weather Service in Miami issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook warning of possible gusty winds and isolated tornadoes as Tropical Storm Colin continues its path north.
Southeast winds are pulling up warm tropical air, which could increase thunderstorm chances and locally heavy rain.
Wind gusts as high as 40 mph are possible with the thunderstorms, but it’s the southwest coast that is likely to see the biggest impact with seas up to 13 feet today, subsiding to seven feet by Tuesday morning.
Previous story: Tropical Storm Colin strengthened overnight to 50 mph winds and is moving more quickly to the north northeast at 14 mph.
The cyclone is poorly organized as of the National Hurricane Center’s 4 a.m. update, but tropical storm warnings remain in effect for areas of Florida between Indian Pass to Englewood and on the east coast from Sebastian Inlet to Altamaha Sound.
A tropical storm watch is in effect for north of Altamaha Sound to South Santee River.
There were no changes as of the 8 a.m. tropical outlook, but forecasters noted that tropical-storm-force winds extend out up to 185 miles.
Colin will have to contend with a strong wind shear as it moves north in the Gulf and center forecasters do not expect significant strengthening before it makes landfall in Florida’s Big Bend region in the next 24 hours.
Still, strong winds, heavy rain and coastal flooding are likely well east of Colin’s center and National Weather Service forecasters in Miami warned this morning that any shift in track toward the east could mean more rains and storms to South Florida.
“The heaviest rain will be southwest Florida,” said Arlena Moses, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami. “For us here on the east coast, the amounts have come down a little for the next 48 hours and we may be looking at amounts around an inch.”
Colin is about 360 miles west southwest of Tampa and about 345 miles south southwest of Apalachicola with a minimum central pressure of 1004 mb.
The 5-day track has nudged more north since the 10 p.m. advisory.
Palm Beach County is still expected to get heavy rain in connection to Colin, but the Storm Prediction Center has taken South Florida out of its elevated “slight” risk category for severe weather. Palm Beach County remains in its marginal level, meaning there is a chance for isolated severe thunderstorms with small hail, winds up to 60 mph and a low tornado risk.
There is a 10 to 20 percent probability that Palm Beach County could see some tropical storm-force winds, according to the National Hurricane Center.
U.S. Air Force Hurricane Hunters measured surface winds from one intense area of Colin at 69 mph, but hurricane center forecasters said it is unclear how representative they are as to the storm as a whole.
As of late Sunday, the National Weather Service was more concerned about prolonged rains throughout this week as opposed to heavy, flooding rains today.
Miami forecasters said the threat of heavy rains and potential flooding for Palm Beach County will exist through late in the week.
The bigger concern for the southeast coast of Florida is Wednesday through Saturday. After Colin moves into the Atlantic, a frontal boundary is expected to stall out across Central and South Florida Wednesday through Friday.
The seven-day rain totals have all of Palm Beach County receiving an average of three to four inches with more falling sporadically in local areas.
A coastal flood advisory is in effect for Collier County through Tuesday morning with concerns about high tides Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning exacerbating the affects from Tropical Storm Colin.
1. Hurricane Wilma was a Category 3 when it made landfall on the west coast of Florida Oct. 24, 2005.
2. Sandy, after reaching Category 3 strength, weakened to a post-tropical low before making landfall northeast of Atlantic City on Oct. 29, 2012.
3. Storm surge, rain and surf, not wind, cause the most deaths during and after a hurricane. About 80 percent of deaths directly attributable to Atlantic tropical cyclones between 1963 and 2012 were water related.
6. El Nino, which helps knock down Atlantic hurricanes, is on the way out, while La Nina, which is more storm-friendly has a 75 percent chance of emerging by fall.
7. You should have a gallon of drinking water per person, per day for one week.
8. Hurricane Patricia ended Hurricane Wilma’s reign as the most intense hurricane on record in October. Patricia, which reached wind speeds of more than 200 mph in the Pacific before hitting a rural area of Mexico, had a central pressure of 872 millibars. Wilma’s pressure was 882 millibars.
9. The 1900 Great Galveston Hurricane killed 8,000 people. Florida’s Okeechobee Hurricane in 1928 is ranked second, killing up to 3,000 people when a storm surge broke through a weak dike around Lake Okeechobee. (This is corrected from an earlier version that said the Okeechobee storm was the top killer)
10. Hurricane Katrina had weakened to a Category 3 storm with peak winds of 125 mph at landfall.
Hurricane Elena ended that streak in August 1985, drifting close enough to Florida’s Gulf Coast for 92 mph winds to be felt in Pensacola and sending 10 feet of storm surge into Apalachicola, according to National Hurricane Center records.
In third place for the most extended break between storms was 1,778 days beginning in 1987.
The storm that ended that reprieve is infamous in the annals of hurricane history.
The official start of the 2016 hurricane season is June 1, but the atmosphere is brewing up a little preview that may form into a tropical system by Memorial Day.
Meteorologists are watching forecast models that show an area of low pressure forming near the Bahamas that has the potential to become the season’s first tropical depression with a path toward Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.
Andy Mussoline, senior meteorologist with the Pennsylvania-based AccuWeather, said the system is a signal that weather patterns are shifting, making things more favorable in the Atlantic for hurricanes.
“We think any development that would occur later this week will be slow with a tropical depression likely the beginning,” Mussoline said. “We have warm water, low wind shear. Something may show up as early as Thursday.”
While a few days ahead of schedule, early tropical development has some precedents.
Hurricanes have formed in every month but February.
Last year, Tropical Storm Ana opened the 2015 hurricane season with a May 9 debut.
This year, Hurricane Alex formed Jan. 14, making it only the second January-born Atlantic hurricane on record.
Other hurricanes refusing to adhere to man’s calendar include Alice, which formed Dec. 31, 1954, but managed to live through the New Year before dissipating Jan. 4. Another tropical storm dubbed Ana formed April 20 in 2003, while Tropical Storm Alberto was named May 19, 2012. Alberto was followed just days later by Tropical Storm Beryl, which formed May 26.
While January’s Hurricane Alex was more of a hold-over from the 2015 storm season, its formation date on the calendar made it a 2016 storm.
That means if the system being watched by forecasters develops, it would be named Bonnie.
But some forecasters aren’t ready to fire up the season just yet.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami has not identified the low pressure system that may develop as one to watch for potential tropical characteristics, and Jeff Masters, co-founder and director of meteorology for Weather Underground, confirmed an area of low pressure is expected to form but said the forecast is more muddled from there.
“The models have widely differing ideas on how much wind shear might be present, so it is too early to say if this system is a legitimate threat to develop into a tropical depression,” Masters said Monday.
Tropical cyclones are unique in that they have warmer temperatures at their centers — so called “warm cores” — that are able to sustain the strength of the storm over long distances.
But they need warm ocean waters and low wind shear to prosper — ingredients AccuWeather forecasters say are there.
Ocean temperatures are about 80 degrees with light winds that are expected to remain that way into next week.
Whether a tropical system forms, showers and thunderstorms are expected to increase from Florida to the Carolinas later this week and through Memorial Day with increasingly dangerous surf conditions.
“We think any development will be slow,” Mussoline said. “But we have warm water, low wind shear and high atmospheric moisture, which, combined, can mean tropical formation.”