Improved hurricane forecasts mean a slimmer cone of terror this storm season

Forecasters predicted a right turn would drive Hurricane Irma into an anxious Florida four days before the Cat 4 colossus did just that, biting into the side of Cudjoe Key.

With more than 1,100 miles of bathwater-warm Atlantic to cover before Irma was to reach the Peninsula’s tip, there was uncertainty that early morning of Sept. 6 whether the barreling circle of thunderstorms would rise up to buffet the east or west coast of the Sunshine State.

But the 90-degree turn anticipated 96 hours in advance is touted as a forecasting triumph.

This hurricane season, the successes of 2017’s forecasts will be reflected in a smaller cone of uncertainty — that ominous funnel of angst no one wants pointed at them.

RELATED: There’s good and bad news with the hurricane forecast for 2018

While the tweak from this past season will likely go unnoticed by most, forecasting improvements since 2010 have resulted in an up to 36 percent smaller cone depending on the forecast period. Go back to the 1980s, and the reduction in forecast track error is closer to 80 percent, said National Hurricane Center deputy director Ed Rappaport, during March’s National Hurricane Conference.

“There have been many remarkable advances in science, but I would argue…READ MORE about the advancements in technology that have helped shrink the cone in the full story at 

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South Florida weather: “I don’t have good news…”

Heavy clouds move over the city of West Palm Beach during late afternoon as seen from the middle bridge to Palm Beach Thursday May 17, 2018.  (Greg Lovett / The Palm Beach Post)

Bouts of daily showers and thunderstorms will plague South Florida through at least early next week as a torrent of saturated air remains locked in place.

The Weather Prediction Center has South Florida under a marginal risk for excessive rain that could cause flooding today through Monday. Areas from Fort Lauderdale to Jupiter were given a moderate chance for flooding today by the National Weather Service in Miami.

Up to two inches of rain is possible today with a high concern for thunderstorms and lightning.

Related: Lake Worth woman saw her cousin get killed by lightning

“I don’t have good news,” said Brett Rossio, a meteorologist with Accuweather. “There’s deep tropical moisture being pulled in and the pattern is kind of stagnant.”

The videos below over Lake Okeechobee were determined to be a waterspout.

An upper-level disturbance in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico is amplifying the stormy weather this week. Its counterclockwise spin is pulling steamy Caribbean air into the state that’s combining with daytime heating and afternoon sea breezes to create “gully washers,” Rossio said.

The storms have also been treacherous, spinning up a tornado in Loxahatchee on Monday and killing a Lake Worth woman Wednesday who was struck by lightning.

Maria Francisco Pascual, 53, was working at C.W. Hendrix Farm in far northwest Broward County when she was struck.

Thunderstorms are mentioned every day in the 7-day forecast with varying chances of rain. Today’s forecast is for between a 40 to 80 percent chance of rain, which is mirrored through the weekend. Not until Monday do rain chances fall to 40 percent where they stay into Wednesday.

Related: Florida’s summer thunderstorms are unique, deadly

“There’s just a fire hose aimed at Florida,” said at Melody Lovin, a meteorologist with the NWS in Key West.

The rain will help areas that have been suffering from dry conditions that steadily rose on the U.S. Drought Monitor’s scale this spring. A weekly report released Thursday showed nearly all of Palm Beach County with no drought, but areas from Lee County through Collier County and into Miami-Dade County are still considered to be suffering from abnormally dry conditions to severe drought.

Eric Swartz, a meteorologist with the South Florida Water Management District, said while water conservation areas on the Broward and Palm Beach County line received up to 10 inches of rain since Sunday, parts of Miami-Dade had less than an inch.

“It takes time to completely recharge the system,” Swartz said. “If you have water in your swale, and it’s sitting there all day, it’s recharged.”

While Swartz is more optimistic when a break in the rain may come — he’s thinking Sunday — he said the sogginess and humidity is here through summer.

“There will be rain around and that warm muggy feeling outside into October,” Swartz said.

The rainy season officially began Tuesday.

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