Epic December rain totals for South Florida

Just nine days into December and Palm Beach County is at least 3.65 inches over the historic norm as far as rainfall totals with 5.08 inches falling at the airport.

Miami-Dade County broke a record yesterday when it hit 9.24 inches of rain for the month, making December the second wettest since 1895.

And Broward County has seen 5.2 inches of rain since Dec. 1, more than 5 inches higher than the historic norm for this month, according to the South Florida Water Management District.

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The National Weather Service says Palm Beach County is just 3.35 inches away from making December one of the top 5 rainiest on records.

Florida State Climatologist David Zierden pointed to moisture from the tropical Pacific as connected to South Florida’s heavy rains.

And if El Nino is to blame, South Florida may be in for a wet and dreary (for the Sunshine State) winter.

35-foot sand tree gets face lift after heavy rains

Workers from Team Sandtastic arrived today to start fixing Sandi, the 600-ton sand Christmas tree in West Palm Beach, after heavy rains last week washed away many features.

Tom May, a sculptor with Team Sandtastic, said he was surprised at the amount of damage done by the deluge. Palm Beach International Airport has measured 5 inches of rain since Dec. 1.

“We had some pieces that dissolved completely,” May said. “We had an elf over there on the side that just fell apart.”

See Sandi photo gallery here

On Friday, even the showcase star toppled, crooking the tip of the sand pile and taking out the impressive light display with it. The light show has since been restored.

Fixes for the tree, dubbed Sandi, are estimated to cost about $5,100.

Sculptors work to restore Sandi.
Sculptors work to restore Sandi.

South Florida’s dry season was officially declared Oct. 18 by the National Weather Service, and forecasters said Monday the last week’s weather was uncommon for this late in the year.

“This is extremely unusual,” said Chuck Caracozza, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “To get this amount of rain in one week of December is rare.”

A ribbon of turbulent air advancing a cold front is responsible for the stubborn showers. While South Florida didn’t get chillier temperatures from the system, the front stalled in the Florida Straits shooting moisture north in its counterclockwise flow.

May said three or four sculptors plan to work on Sandi this week.

“The big thing is just getting the drier weather so it can harden and hold it’s shape,” May said.

A worker sprays a fine mixture similar to glue and water to keep sand from blowing away.
A worker sprays a fine mixture similar to glue and water to keep sand from blowing away.

Will South Florida see the sun this week?

South Florida will see the sun again this week after cloudy to partly cloudy skies have blanketed the area since at least Dec. 1.

By Friday, rain chances are expected to be down to 10 percent, and skies are forecast to be mostly sunny, according to the National Weather Service.

Saturday’s forecast is “sunny.”

“It will be a nice change,” said David Ross, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami. “I’m sure it will be welcome.”

According to a weather station at the Palm Beach International Airport, every day this month has been either partly cloudy or cloudy. In technical terms, “partly cloudy” is a day when more than half of the sky is cloudless.

By Saturday the stubborn front that has brought so much rain is pushed south of Cuba.
By Saturday the stubborn front that has brought so much rain is pushed south of Cuba.

“Cloudy” is when 7/8 or more of the sky is covered by clouds.

The stubborn front stalled in the Florida Straits has been responsible for most of the clouds and rain.

Since Dec. 1, 5 inches of rain has fallen at Palm Beach International Airport. That’s 3 to 4 inches above normal for the first week of December.

A high pressure system is expected to push through later this week that will get rid of that soggy front to our south.

“By Saturday and Sunday, we’ll have the best couple of days we’ve had in several weekends,” said Arlena Moses, a NWS meteorologist in Miami. “If you look to Central and North Florida, they don’t have a cloud in the sky.”

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10 safest Florida cities from hurricanes, where West Palm Beach falls

There’s really no where 100 percent safe in Florida from hurricanes.

Even Orlando got hit twice in 2004 by hurricanes Charley and Frances.

>>Hurricane Irma: Get the latest news and information on the storm

And although Florida enjoyed a more than 10-year hurricane drought after 2005’s Hurricane Wilma, Hurricane Hermine made landfall in the Big Bend area in September 2016. And the east coast experienced a scary swipe from Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

>>Hurricane Irma: Follow the latest headlines

Still, HomeInsurance.com has ranked Florida’s cities based on their evaluation of NOAA-identified storms from 1965 to October 2014, doling out scores based on the number of storm events, number of storm-related deaths, property damage and storm-related injuries.

This satellite image provided by NOAA and taken at 3:15 p.m. EDT Thursday Oct. 20, 2005 shows Hurricane Wilma as it approaches the Mexican Yucatan peninsula. Wilma, a Category 4 storm with winds of 150 mph, churned toward the Yucatan peninsula and south Florida after its outer bands hit Haiti and Jamaica.
This satellite image provided by NOAA and taken at 3:15 p.m. EDT Thursday Oct. 20, 2005 shows Hurricane Wilma as it approaches the Mexican Yucatan peninsula.

>>Hurricane Irma coverage: Follow The Palm Beach Post’s certified weather reporter, Kim Miller on Twitter

West Palm Beach ranks 15th on the list, falling behind Miami, which took the 14th place. Stuart ranked 11.

The top 10, beginning with the safest, are:

  1. Leesburg
  2. Orlando
  3. Sanford
  4. Kissimmee
  5. Palatka
  6. Lake City
  7. Naples
  8. Ocala
  9. Gainesville
  10. Fernandina Beach

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

The entire ranking is below.

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