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.
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.
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.
“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.
RT winknews: RT MattDevittWINK: GLADES COUNTY WATERSPOUT: Just after 4 PM this afternoon along the SW part of Lake Okeechobee, 5 miles east of Moore Haven. Thanks so much WINK viewer Tony Wilson for the video! #swflpic.twitter.com/No0jpESjF1
Here’s video of one of the two funnel clouds spotted in Glades County. Doesn’t look like it touched down but the man in the video talks about seeing debris on the ground. The second funnel had dissipated by this point. Thoughts, @NWSMiami? pic.twitter.com/jz5C1enN8s
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.
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.
“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.