Tropical Atlantic lights up again, four areas being watched

The tropical Atlantic is stirring once again with four areas being watched by the National Hurricane Center for potential cyclonic development.

None of the knots of showers and thunderstorms are an imminent threat to the U.S.

But forecasters said the next named storm, which would be Kirk, could form over the weekend when an area of low pressure in the central subtropical Atlantic finds its way into more favorable conditions.

The spot of disturbed weather, which is midway between Bermuda and Azores, has a 70 percent chance of developing over the next five days.

STORM 2018: Hurricane Central

Of the other three areas, two have meager shots of becoming something more in the short term, while the third — a tropical wave off the coast of Africa — has a 60 percent chance of development.

“The coming weeks into mid-October often bring several additional tropical storms and hurricanes,” AccuWeather senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski wrote in his forecast. “This year may not be any exception.”

Saharan air appears in reds and oranges in this modified satellite image from Sept. 21, 2018.

One of the areas being watched is about 100 miles southeast of Bermuda and has moisture associated with the now defunct Florence, which made landall last week in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane. It has a 30 percent chance of development over five days.

National Hurriane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said the area doesn’t contain enough of Florence to keep that name if it becomes a tropical storm.

After Kirk, the next two names on the 2018 storm list are Leslie and Michael.

RELATED: Surfers jam beaches in hope of Florence swells

The tropical wave, which is about 600 miles south-southeast of the Cabo Verde Islands, was showing signs of organization Friday with environmental conditions forecast to be more accommodating for a tropical depression to form next week.

The peak of the hurricane season was Sept. 10. This season has so far had 10 named storms and five hurricanes. Three hurricanes — Florence, Helene and Isaac — and two tropical storms — Gordon and Joyce — formed between Sept. 1 and Sept. 12.

As of Friday, the season remained more active than normal. Many forecasts reduced their predictions because they believed a fall El Niño was likely. El Niño climate patterns create storm-killing wind shear and are associated with below normal hurricane seasons.

“The anticipated El Niño for this upcoming fall and winter has been lagging, and we are still technically in a neutral phase,” said AccuWeather hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski. “Even though we are over the hump in terms of the average peak of hurricane season, there is still more hurricane season to go.”

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Six-day streak of August-like days may end with afternoon thunderstorms

Sunrise over the Intracoastal in West Palm Beach on Friday, Sept. 21 2018.

South Florida has been on a six-day streak of 90-degree days or warmer with two days this week reaching a sizzling 93 degrees at Palm Beach International Airport.

The normal daytime high for this time of year is 88 degrees, with overnight lows at 75.

September 2018 temperatures at Palm Beach International Airport.

Wednesday and Thursday both hit 93 – not enough to break records which were 94 degrees on both days, but 5 degrees above normal.

Nine days this month have been 90 degrees or warmer.

RELATED: Safest places to live in Florida to avoid a hurricane

That’s more like what’s typical in late July through August.

Robert Garcia, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami, said the warm temperatures are partly because the Bermuda High has had a strong grip on Florida.

High pressure leads to sunny skies and warmer temperatures as air sinks and warms compressionally as it does so.

But, there’s also an upper-level area of low pressure.

The two have turned off the typical sea breezes that can cool the air in the afternoon and help kick up thunderstorms.

The storms that have come in have been more pop-up in nature, including a strong one that hit Broward County on Thursday that included quarter-size hail, according to the NWS.

CHECK The Palm Beach Post radar map

“It’s a weird pattern,” Garcia said. “The flow has just been stagnant compared to a normal summer breeze.

That could end today with an increase in chances for thunderstorms.

“These storms could be really slow moving so we could see some areas of ponding where the rain is heavy,” Garcia said.

Saturday is the first day of fall as the equinox marks the Earth begins to tilt the Northern Hemisphere toward autumn.

At the moment of equinox, the Earth’s axis leans neither toward or away from the sun — a parity that produces a nearly equal day and night.

But Garcia said don’t expect any significant dip in temperatures.

While North Florida may experience a cold front in September, they typically don’t push south until at least mid October after the onset of the rainy season, which begins Oct. 15.

“I think we’re still very much in the rainy season for now,” Garcia said.

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TONIGHT: See Venus at its brightest

Look southwest tonight and tomorrow in the early hours after sunset to see the brilliant planet Venus twinkling at its brightest.

Venus is so alive this time of year some people may even report it as a UFO,  said Bruce McClure, an EarthSky columnist,

“Greatest brilliancy for Venus is a delicate balance between how much we see of the planet’s day side, and the changing distance between our two worlds,” McClure says.

Venus is always the third brightest object in our sky after the sun and the moon, but the distance between the Earth and Venus is decreasing as the planet gets closer to passing between the Earth and sun on Oct. 26.

The website InTheSky.org says Venus will only be about 13 degrees above the horizon in West Palm Beach, so you may have to go to the Intracoastal waterway or beach to see it best.

While you’re looking up, you may also want to look for Mars, which will be a yellow-orange point to the right of the moon in the evening sky. It will be shining in the south and set about 2 a.m.

Saturn may also appear to their lower right.

Monday marks September’s full sturgeon moon, but it shouldn’t outshine its planetary friends.

(Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post) WEST PALM BEACH – Venus and the waning crescent moon appear in the sky above West Palm Beach in this 2010 photo.

Are hurricane shutters canary in coal mine for aluminum tariffs?

Raymundo Orozco, (L) and Enrique Rodriguez of Guardian Storm Protection work on hurricane shutter tracks in suburban West Palm Beach, Florida, September 19, 2018. The tariff’s on steel and aluminum are forcing delays and increases in the the costs for hurricane shutters in South Florida. (Greg Lovett / The Palm Beach Post)

Halfway through hurricane season, a high-end Frenchman’s Creek home in Palm Beach Gardens finally got its $40,000 in aluminum hurricane shuttersWednesday — a hard-fought for prize in the new age of tariffs.

Ordered in April, the nearly four-month wait is more than quadruple the norm as aluminum prices edge up and supply dwindles with more mills looking toavoid tariffs by buying American, said Andy Kobosko, Jr., owner of Guardian Storm Protection in suburban West Palm Beach.

Kobosko, whose company filled the Frenchman’s Creek order, said he’s recently reduced delays to four to six weeks by buying in bulk with his Fort Lauderdale-based distributor. A normal wait time for shutters before the tariffs was two to three weeks, Kobosko said.

“Things are starting to catch up, but it’s been a stressful three months,” he said.

RELATED: Safest places to live in Florida to avoid a hurricane

Since President Donald Trump’s…READ the rest of the story at MyPalmBeachPost.com and find out why Florida may be insulated to some extent from tariff impacts. 

Tenacious tropics try to stir up Kirk under Saharan air plume

The tropics are nothing if not tenacious this September, with a tropical wave trying to become the next named storm under a plume of dry Saharan air.

National Hurricane Center forecasters are giving the area of disturbed weather only a 20 percent of tropical development over the next five days, with nearly no chance of development in the next 48 hours.

STORM 2018: Hurricane Central

But it will have to spin up fast to earn the moniker Kirk because winds become less favorable for development over the weekend.

A plume of Saharan air is shown in the orange and red colors leaving the coast of Africa.

Jason Dunion, a meteorologist with the University of Miami who tracks Saharan air, said the current outbreak is “fairly impressive”, but not extremely unusual for this time of year.

And, it’s unlikely it will make it all the way into the Caribbean.

According to Dunion’s research, the Saharan air layer, or SAL, makes it into the Caribbean about 40 percent of the time between late June to early August.

RELATED: Tropics cool after frenetic week of storms…what’s on the horizon? 

But by September, SAL outbreaks overspread the Caribbean only 10 to 15 percent of the time.

“It’s just that they’re a bit smaller than their June to August cousins and they especially don’t tend to reach as far west,” Dunion said.

Forecasters said Monday that tropical development was unlikely over the next 10 days.

While hurricane season lasts through Nov. 30, the tropical waves that produce Cape Verde storms tend to diminish by late September, said Bob Henson, a meteorologist for Weather Underground, part of IBM.

“We’ve come past the normal peak and it was an especially sharp peak this year because everything kind of aligned,” Henson said. “It was just a constellation of ingredients that came together and if the formula changes just a little bit, the numbers can drop pretty sharply.”

This year, three hurricanes — Florence, Helene and Isaac — and two tropical storms — Gordon and Joyce — formed between Sept. 1 and Sept. 12.

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Florida fall begins this week; when cooler weather will arrive

Image of Earth from top left during the winter solstice, spring equinox, summer solstice and fall equinox. Courtesy NASA

The fall equinox, the Northern Hemisphere’s first tentative tilt into autumn, is Saturday.

It marks the astronomical end of the hottest, longest days of the year, and is the universe’s promise that cooler weather is on the way.

CHECK The Palm Beach Post’s live hurricane tracking map.

At the moment of equinox, the Earth’s axis leans neither toward or away from the sun — a parity that produces a nearly equal day and night.

“For us in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is rising later now, and nightfall comes sooner,” said Deborah Byrd, editor-in-chief of the online magazine Earth and Sky. “We’re enjoying the cooler days of autumn.”

But in South Florida, the onset of fall-like temperatures is still at least a month away.

The average daytime high in West Palm Beach doesn’t dip below 85 degrees until Oct. 20, with overnight lows remaining in the 70s until Oct. 27 when the  normal finally dips to 69 degrees.

And even then, the difference between the warmest and coldest periods of the year in South Florida can be just 25 degrees, according to the book Florida Weather, which was co-authored by Florida Climatologist David Zierden.

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“A source of frequent complaint among northern migrants to Florida is its lack of distinct seasons,” the book notes.

In Chicago, Cleveland and New York City, there is a difference of approximately 70 degrees between the average maximum temperature and the average minimum temperature.

Hot temperatures and a calm ocean attracted beachgoers to the sands north of the Juno Beach Pier, September 16, 2018 in Juno Beach, Florida, September 16, 2018. (Greg Lovett / The Palm Beach Post)

NEW: Tropics cool after frenetic week

This week, the difference between the daytime high and overnight low in West Palm Beach was just 12 degrees with Monday reaching a searing 91 degrees and this morning bottoming out at an unofficial 79 degrees.

An area of high pressure over the state should keep the temperatures above normal into the weekend. The normal high this time of year in West Palm Beach is 88 degrees, with a normal overnight low of 75 degrees.

VIDEO: Weather reporters told to “stop acting like you’re hanging on for dear life”

Weather Channel reporter buffeted by winds as two people seemingly stride behind him unimpeded by Hurricane Florence’s winds.

Weather reporters covering Hurricane Florence no doubt dealt with hammering wind, driving rain, and charging storm surge.

But some people are criticizing what they feel are overly-dramatic reports from the storm.

In one clip, seasoned Weather Channel reporter Mike Seidel is bracing against Florence’s wind in Wilmington, N.C. when two people seemingly stride by behind him with little trouble in the gale.

The Weather Channel defended the experienced meteorologist.

“It’s important to note that the two individuals in the background are walking on concrete and Mike Seidel is trying to maintain his footing on wet grass, after reporting on-air until 1 a.m. this morning and is undoubtedly exhausted,” it said in a statement.

The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang called out Hurricane Florence reporters in general who it thought were “manufacturing” action, “leaning into 30 mph winds like they are battling a Category 5.”

Deputy Weather Editor Angela Fritz said the drama is “driving me up the wall.”

“Really? There is no need for this,” she wrote in a column. “The wind is not the story here, and everyone knows it because they watched Florence drop in strength before it made landfall.”

Plus, Fritz said, if you are going to lean into the winds of a raging storm (turn your sound down) “do it right.” 

In other social media posts, meteorologists were criticized for standing outside in the weather, while admonishing viewers not to do the same.

Ginger Zee, chief meteorologist at ABC News, responded saying she always puts safety first.

Florida Climatologist David Zierden also chimed in, asking if being outside during a storm is any less safe than a football game.

Above normal year for tropics, what’s in store for second half?

Hurricane season runs June 1 through Nov. 30 and has so far challenged forecasts calling for a below normal season.

Through today, there have been 10 named storms, 53.5 named storm days, five hurricanes, 16 hurricane days and an accumulated cyclone energy, or ACE, of 81.4.  ACE is a way to measure the strength and duration of storms.

CHECK The Palm Beach Post’s live hurricane tracking map.

A normal season as calculated for years 1981 through 2010, has 7.5 named storms through today, 3.6 hurricanes, 14 hurricane days and an ACE of 63.5.

Data gathered by Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project.

But much of this year’s activity occurred just last week with Hurricanes Florence, Isaac and Helene. The storms were later joined by Tropical Storm Joyce in the far off Atlantic.

A week ago, the Atlantic basin was abuzz with activity.

RELATED: ‘It was a mad house’: Surfers jam beaches in hope of Florence swells 

Hurricanes Florence, Isaac and Helene spin in the tropical Atlantic on Sept. 10, 2018.

Today, Florence and Joyce have been downgraded to tropical depressions, Helene is history, and the remnants of Isaac are floundering south of Jamaica with only a 10 percent chance of development.

GOES-East image of the Atlantic basin on Sept. 17, 2018

Colorado State University, which issues two-week forecasts for the tropics, has the next two weeks at near-normal activity.

VIDEO: Hurricane hunters find cloud canyon in Florence’s eye

“We had a recent flurry of activity in early to mid-September, bu tthe next two weeks looks to be relativley quiet once the current storms dissipate,” the forecast from Thursday says. 

One reason for a quieter week could be a large plume of Saharan air entering the Atlantic basin.

Saharan dust concentrations are show in yellows and orange.

But AccuWeather forecasters aren’t giving up on Isaac making a comeback in the Gulf of Mexico later this week.

“AccuWeather meteorologists are not suggesting that Isaac will turn into another Harvey, which fell apart entering the western Caribbean then rapidly regained strength while moving across the Gulf of Mexico,” forecasters wrote,

The key, according to AccuWeather hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski, will be in how much wind shear Isaac encounters and whether it can avoid interaction with the Yucatan Peninsula.

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Why Florence is making it so hot in South Florida

South Florida didn’t see any direct impacts from Hurricane Florence, but sinking air and southwest winds on the periphery of the storm hiked temperatures to above normal over the weekend.

The daytime high Saturday and Sunday was 91 degrees at Palm Beach International Airport. That’s 3 degrees above normal for this time of year.

A lack of cooling afternoon storms kept it warm into the evening on both days.  As warm as it was, it couldn’t top the record high of 94 degrees for Sept. 15 set in 1950, and 95 degrees for Sept. 16 set in 1990.

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This morning’s unofficial low temperature of 79 is 4 degrees above normal, but 1 degree below the record warm low of 81 set in 1906.

Today could be much of the same, said Chris Fisher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami.

“We’re not expecting too much rain so the heat index will be 100 to 105,” Fisher said. “We may see some showers but not as much as you would see on a typical summer day.”

Florence, now a tropical depression, is forecast to move northward today into the Ohio Valley and then northeast across the northeastern portion of the U.S. tomorrow.

That change will give the high pressure that has been over South Florida for the past couple of days a chance to move north into Central and North Florida, shifting south Florida’s winds to a more easterly flow off the water.

While it may be mid-September, Fisher said noticeably cooler temperatures are several weeks away.

“You really don’t start feeling the difference until early to mid-October,” he said. “Technically, the dry season is still a month away.”