JUST IN: Significant hazardous marine conditions this weekend following front

GOES-16 satellite imagery of winter storm hitting the Northeast and expected to bring high seas and cool weather to South Florida.

A wrecking ball of a winter storm is about to bust up the recent hot weather with a fury that meteorologists predict could bring up to 15-foot seas to Palm Beach County’s coastline and send life-threatening flooding into the Northeast.

A low pressure system, whose strength was still in debate just days ago, is now expected to undergo an explosive strengthening as it harasses states from Virginia to Maine with peak wind gusts of hurricane force possible along the coast. The forecast drop in atmospheric pressure of at least 24 millibars in 24 hours or less is called bombogenesis.

LIVE RADAR: Check out The Palm Beach Post radar map

In South Florida, the National Weather Service is warning of coastal flooding, powerful rip currents, high seas and beach erosion building into Sunday through mid-week.

The highest seas along Palm Beach County’s coast are expected Sunday night at between 12-15 feet.

“With the marine and coastal concerns this weekend, and next week, we will be providing a daily briefing through at least the weekend, and possibly into the beginning of the week,” said Steven Ippoliti, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami. “The main concerns are hazardous seas and beach erosion. Also, relative humidity may impact some of those with fire weather concerns, as the RH may drop into the 20s.”

In Massachusetts, voluntary evacuations of some coastal communities during high tides have been recommended with forecasters in the Boston office of the National Weather Service calling the advancing storm a “life and death” situation.

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“Exacerbating the event will be the highest tides of the month — more than a foot above average, associated with the full moon,” said Weather Underground co-founder Jeff Masters in his Cat 6 blog. “The Northeast U.S. will receive a punishing assault from a large storm surge and high waves that will last through three high tide cycles.”

For South Florida, the storm will punch through a cold front Friday, dropping temperatures from a Thursday high of 85 to a forecast high Saturday of 75. Sunday morning temperatures are expected to be in the mid- to high-50s along the coast, with inland areas dipping into the 40s.

The cold weather will be an abrupt change to February, which ended with an average temperature in West Palm Beach of 75.3 degrees, breaking a 59-year old record of 74.4 set in 1959.

“I’m still peeling from two crazy sunburns that I got last month. It was hot,” said Grace Kalinsky, who recently moved to West Palm Beach and was enjoying the sun Thursday at City Place. “But I’m from Connecticut so everything feels hot and humid here.”

Read more about February’s record heat in the full story at MyPalmBeachPost.com. 

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Gators, Zika, but at least this will never happen in Florida

The late-season winter storm that smacked the northeast this week left some inland areas buried in snow and a group of innocent commuters awash in the white stuff.

In this video from Rhinecliff, N.Y., riders are waiting for their train on Wednesday when the unexpected happens.

The estimated 2 feet of snow that had accumulated on the tracks ends up in their faces.

The man who took the video, Craig Oleszewski, told NBC, New York, Channel 4 that the train appeared to overshoot the platform.

“Another witness said some people were knocked to the ground,” Channel 4 reported.

There was some criticism this week about the forecast for this storm, which didn’t have the kind of snowfall in major eastern cities that was originally predicted.

New York City was forecast originally to get 18 to 24 inches. About 7 inches fell with a mix of sleet and rain.

This morning on The Weather Channel, hosts Jim Cantore and Stephanie Abrams asked Greg Carbin, chief of forecast operations at the Weather Prediction Center in suburban Maryland, whether the criticism was warranted.

“The atmosphere is full of mystery leading up to an event like this one and when it gets down to forecasting it, you’re not dealing with a full deck. Mother Naure holds back a card or two,” Carbin said.

 

Coldest air of the season possible overnight, wind chill advisory mulled

National Weather Service forecasters in Miami said they may issue wind chill advisories this afternoon as the coldest air of the season is possible overnight.

The forecast for West Palm Beach calls for a low of 52 – hardly the 43 degrees recorded Jan. 31 – but the wind chill temperature is forecast to dip into the low 40s overnight and down into the 30s north and west of Lake Okeechobee.

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

Related: See pictures from cold-front spawned tornado

Wind chill is the temperature the air feels like on the skin because of the wind, but is not the actual temperature. Plants are not affected by wind chill because they respond to the true ambient temperature rather than how cold it feels to humans and animals.

Still, patchy frost is expected for much of Glades County tonight.

“It may feel like its down to freezing there,” said Arlena Moses, a meteorologist with the NWS in Miami about Glades County. “This is all still related to the system that moved up the eastern seaboard Tuesday.”

Download the Palm Beach Post WeatherPlus app here.

The reason for the cold air is a clockwise-churning high pressure system that will be shooting frigid northern air into Florida on winds that will turn northerly Thursday and then northeast. At the same time, the counterclockwise winds of the low are also pushing northern air south.

“Even though it’s mid-March, temperatures will be nearly the coldest of the winter/early spring,” forecasters wrote.

Thursday should be slightly warmer, but not by much. Despite sunny skies, daytime highs will be at least 10 degrees below normal for this time of year.

The record low temperature for March 15 at Palm Beach International Airport is 40 degrees set in 1970. For March 16, the record low is 43 degrees set in 1948.

The low temperature this morning was at least 52 degrees, which is 10 degrees below normal for mid-March.

In the Treasure Coast and further north, the NWS Melbourne office is expecting temperatures 15 to 20 degrees below normal the next few days.

Forecasters issued a freeze warning for areas west of Daytona Beach in Central Florida, including Ocala.

“It’s unusual, but not impossible to get something like this late in the season,” said Tim Sedlock, a meteorologist with the NWS in Melbourne. “It’s been a warm winter in general, so it will be kind of a shock to some people.”

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Dozens of flights canceled at PBIA

The storm in the Northeast has led to dozens of flight cancellations at Palm Beach International Airport with more than 30 arriving flights canceled through midnight tonight.

About 50 departing flights to areas including Boston, New York and Baltimore have also been canceled.

See photo gallery of winter storm hitting Northeast

Check your flight status here: http://www.pbia.org/flight-status/

For Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, flight delays and cancellations can be found here. 

Watch live cameras as epic late-season storm dumps snow on Northeast

An epic late-season winter storm is dumping what may be up to 2 feet of snow in some areas of the Northeast, including New York.

See photo gallery of winter storm hitting Northeast

The dangerous late-season nor’easter has 10 states under a winter storm warning this morning with threats of paralyzing snow from Virginia to Maine, coastal flooding and gale-force winds.

But you can watch it live from the safety of your computer on these amazing EarthCams:

Wall Street charging bull

Times Square Street Cam

Times Square south cam 

Fifth Avenue Cam 

Midtown Manhattan Cam 

University of Vermont cam

Niagara Falls Cam

Boston Cam

Cleveland Cam

Washington Monument Cam

National Mall Cam 

Chicago Cam 

Seaside Heights Cam 

Columbus Circle Cam 

Wildwood Cam 

Gettysburg Battlefield Cam 

CN Tower, Toronto

What does the epic winter storm look like in your favorite city? Watch live here

While South Florida sweats through record-challenging temperatures today, the same weather system is hitting the Northeast hard with an epic winter storm.

JetBlue has grounded all flights today to PBIA from Logan International Airport in Boston and Kennedy International Airport, two of its busiest feeder airports. It also waiving change and cancellation fees for airports from Albany, N.Y., through Washington, D.C.

Between 1 a.m. and 9 a.m., some areas of the Northeast have seen several inches of snow. 

So what’s the storm look like in your favorite city?

You can watch it live from these amazing EarthCams:

Times Square Street Cam

Times Square south cam 

Fifth Avenue Cam 

Stature of Liberty Crown cam

Ellis Island

University of Vermont cam

Niagara Falls Cam

Boston Cam

Cleveland Cam

National Mall Cam 

Seaside Heights Cam 

Columbus Circle Cam 

Wildwood Cam 

Gettysburg Battlefield Cam 

CN Tower, Toronto

And, not to rub it in or anything:

Miami Beach 

Times Square
Times Square

capture

Severe weather threat passes, cold still on the way

UPDATE 2:25 p.m.: The National Weather Service says the severe weather threat has passed and the cold front should push through the state by 5 or 6 p.m.

While South Florida was spared high winds and torrential rains, the Treasure Coast has spent most of the day under a thunderstorm watch. Volusia County had a fleeting tornado warning.

“The threat of severe weather has abated by now,” said Pablo Santos, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Miami. “The back edge of the rain shield should be exiting the southeast coast by late this afternoon, probably between 5 and 6 p.m.”

See Palm Beach Post weather photo gallery here. 

Gale-force wind warnings for coastal Palm Beach County waters are still in effect.

One of two boats moored off Bryant Park in Lake Worth appears to be slipping beneath the water in the Intracoastal Waterway Friday, January 22, 2016. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
One of two boats moored off Bryant Park in Lake Worth appears to be slipping beneath the water in the Intracoastal Waterway Friday, January 22, 2016. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

A severe thunderstorm warning is in effect for the Treasure Coast until 5 p.m.

The storm, which forecasters this morning had said may pack 60 mph winds, has so far recorded gusts of about 35 mph.

“There have been a few showers exhibiting rotation but that has been confined to the offshore waters,” Santos said.

The front is the sweeping tail end of the monster storm hitting the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast today through Saturday. Washington, D.C. could get more than 2 feet of snow from the low-pressure system that forecasters have watched march across from the Pacific for the past week.

Dark skies, rough surf, wind and rain set the tone for the day shortly before dawn on Midtown Beach in Palm Beach Friday, January 22, 2016. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
Dark skies, rough surf, wind and rain set the tone for the day shortly before dawn on Midtown Beach in Palm Beach Friday, January 22, 2016. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

UPDATE 12:07 p.m. The most intense part of today’s storms are approaching the east coast metro areas of South Florida and should be hitting over the next hour.

The highest wind gusts recorded along the path of the storm so have been 36 mph.

Activity will linger into the mid to late afternoon before it clears the coast in the early evening.

The actual cold front should clear the coast by late afternoon with a line of broken showers accompanying it.

A severe weather threat remains limited.

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UPDATE 9:26: All of South Florida has been upgraded to a slight risk of severe weather today.

Gale force wind warnings are in effect late this afternoon through Saturday as gusts could reach tropical storm force power of 58 mph or higher. The biggest concern is straight-line winds at this point, not cyclones.

A slight risk of severe weather means short lived and/or not widespread intense storms are possible. The chance for tornadoes is 5 percent as forecast by the Storm Prediction Center.

National Weather Service meteorologist Pablo Santos in Miami said the Storm Prediction Center may put portions of South Florida under a watch in the coming hours. He said the confidence in the forecast is low at this point, unlike last weekend.

“There is a slight risk of severe storms so we must remain situationally aware,” Santos wrote.

Outlook-category-descriptions

Rain with the cold front could begin before noon today with the strong winds following. At its 9 a.m. update, Miami forecasters said a severe storm or tornado watch could be issued this morning, “but not a sure bet.”

This radar forecast shows where the storm is expected to be at 5 p.m. today. 

This rapid refresh radar forecast shows where the storm is expected to be at about 5 p.m.
This rapid refresh radar forecast shows where the storm is expected to be at about 5 p.m.

Previous story:

The National Weather Service in Miami is expecting wind gusts of 58 mph or higher today as the winter storm heading into the Mid-Atlantic pushes a cold front through Florida.

A line of thunderstorms embedded in the cold front could be strong and are possible into mid-morning on the west coast and late morning into the afternoon on the east coast.

Forecasters in Miami say South Florida could start seeing the beginning of the cold front by noon to 1 p.m. with rain.

The worst of it could still be hitting at rush hour as sustained winds of 25 mph with much stronger gusts should last well into the evening and continue through Saturday.

Behind the cold front, strong northwest to west winds will create hazardous marine conditions through much of the weekend and drop temperatures into the 40s Saturday night and Sunday morning. Wind chills could be in the high 30s even on the coast.

Capture

Thunderstorms and only a slight risk of tornadoes are possible with the passage of the low-pressure system, which is heavy with snow for Northern states and moving methodically toward the coast.

“Any risk of tornadoes is pretty low, but it’s not zero,” said Robert Molleda, the warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s Miami office. “We’re not talking about anything like we had last weekend. Nevertheless, we can’t let our guard down as far as the possibility of strong winds as part of this storm.”

Three tornadoes spun through Florida on Sunday, killing two people in Manatee County, and damaging homes and businesses in Sarasota and Hobe Sound.

Minor coastal flooding is possible along the Gulf coast today.

“I would suggest that people pay attention to this system,” said National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini about the winter storm hitting today. “I’m not trying to scare anyone. People should be aware this storm has the potential to be a major snow producer.”

 

The Storm Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration lists South Florida as having a marginal risk of severe thunderstorms today with the passing of the cold front. Steep changes in temperature deep in the atmosphere coupled with strong winds suggest there is some opportunity for “rotation” to form, forecasters said.

This winter storm, dubbed Jonas by The Weather Channel, could cripple areas from Tennessee to Boston.

Up to 24 inches of snow is forecast for Washington, D.C. Coastal flooding and beach erosion along Northeastern shores are expected. Travelers will be stranded with scores of canceled flights, icy roads and whiteout conditions.

There is a high risk of rip currents today.

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Term “blizzard” often misused, Wx geek explains

The Mid-Atlantic and Northeast U.S. are bracing for freezing rain, snow and basically a winter maelstrom of nasty weather.

Yesterday, the Baltimore-Washington office of the National Weather Service had already issued a blizzard watch.

But what does that mean?

A man makes his way down the middles of a street in Washington on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010. A winter storm continued its blizzard rage in some parts of the mid-Atlantic region on Saturday morning, dumping nearly two feet of wet, heavy snow that had cut power to about 200,000 residents, collapsed the roof of a private jet hangar at Washington Dulles International Airport and forced the nation's capital into quiet hibernation. (Luke Sharrett/The New York Times)
A man makes his way down the middles of a street in Washington on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010. A winter storm continued its blizzard rage in some parts of the mid-Atlantic region. (Luke Sharrett/The New York Times)

Marshall Shepherd, director of the atmospheric sciences program at the University of Georgia and host of the Weather Channel’s “Weather Geeks” show wrote a blog for Forbes.com so the public better understands what it means for them.

“It is one of the most misused or casually used meteorological terms,” Marshall wrote.  “Media in the south and other regions that rarely see snow will often use the term for any significant or hampering wither weather event.”

MBIZ-MINI BLIZZARD.JPG

Marshall offers several official definitions, including this one from the National Weather Service glossary:

“A blizzard means that the following conditions are expected to prevail for a period of 3 hours or longer: Sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 miles an hour or greater, and considerable falling and/or blowing snow (i.e. reducing visibility frequently to less than 1/4 mile).”

Interestingly, Shepherd quotes AccuWeather as saying that in the 1870’s an Iowa newspaper used the word blizzard to describe a snowstorm. But it’s more common usage at the time was to refer to a cannon short or volley of musket fire.

“Clearly, the NWS feels this storm warrants that type of watch. As with any significant weather event, I encourage people to prepare accordingly,” Shepherd wrote. “If the worst doesn’t happen, don’t complain, be thankful……”