Hurricane center increases chances of tropical development to 90 percent


Update, 8:00 p.m.: The chance of a tropical system developing in the Gulf of Mexico remains at 90 percent over the next five days, according to The National Hurricane Center.

NHC predicts a subtropical or tropical depression will form this Memorial Day weekend over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico.

Heavy rain and rip currents are the main threats for now.

Original story: The National Hurricane Center has increased the chances that a tropical system will develop in the Gulf of Mexico to 90 percent over five days as an area of storminess southeast of the Yucatan Peninsula becomes better organized.

Forecasters expect a subtropical or tropical depression to form by late Saturday over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico.

If the system develops, it would be named Alberto.

BOOKMARK The Palm Beach Post’s storm tracking map here.

As has been repeated all week, regardless of tropical development, heavy rainfall is expected in South Florida through the weekend.

Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground, said Invest 90L is moving north at about 5 mph into an area where sea surface temperatures are between 77 and 82 degrees.

RELATED: What’s an invest and why do they keep saying tropical cyclone? 

Typically water temperatures need to be at least 80 degrees for a tropical storm to form.

Masters said models still differ on the exact track and timing of 90L with one pointing to a Saturday development and Sunday landfall in Louisiana, while another develops the system close to Florida on Sunday morning before pushing into Georgia that evening.

“Regardless of development, the counter-clockwise flow of air around this low-pressure system in combination with a very wet tropical air mass will funnel large amounts of tropical moisture over Cuba and the Southeast U.S., resulting in very heavy rains during the coming week,” Masters said.

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Today and Friday will be the driest in the coming days with chances of rain between 40 and 50 percent before that ramps up to 70 percent over the weekend.

National Weather Service meteorologists said details of the weekend forecast are dependent on the track and development of would-be Alberto in the Gulf of Mexico.

Concerns for the weekend include flooding as heavy rainfall piles up on saturated ground.

“Similar to what we experienced last weekend, this type of setup is favorable for training precipitation bands, with the atmospheric profiles suggesting very efficient warm rain processes,” Miami meteorologists said in a morning forecast.

The Weather Prediction Center has South Florida rain totals at above 6 inches over the next seven days.

Seven-day rainfall total through Thursday May 31.

But, there is also a concern about tornadoes with southeast Florida on the more turbulent eastern side of the low pressure system moving through the Gulf.

Weather models are pointing to Saturday evening through Monday as having the largest possibilities for tornadoes.

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Tropical development chances lowered, but storms continue

UPDATE 3:54 P.M.: The National Hurricane Center has reduced the chances for tropical development of the system in the Gulf of Mexico to 30 percent over 5 days.

The area of low pressure, which is the cause of today’s storms and early-morning tornado, is hugging the west coast of the state as it moves north into the Panhandle.

Regardless of whether the system develops into a tropical storm or subtropical storm, it will bring rain to Florida for most of the week.

GOES-East satellite image.

UPDATE 2:31 P.M.: Thunderstorms hugging Palm Beach County’s coats have triggered a marine warning for strong winds from Boca Raton to Jupiter.

The warning is in effect until 3:30 p.m.

UPDATE 12:28 P.M. : A team from the National Weather Service in Miami has confirmed a tornado touched down in The Acreage this morning at 5:34 a.m.

The tornado was an EF-0 that traveled a path 50 yards wide and 1.5 miles long.

Robert Molleda, the warning coordination meteorologist with the NWS Miami office, said the straight narrow path of damage was a good indicator that it was caused by a tornado.

He estimates the winds were about 80 mph.

“Certainly there was no major structural damage,” he said. “It was mainly tree branches, a few uprooted trees, some fence damage, a couple of horse stables got their roof covering blown off, and a few trampolines got flung around.”

A 12×12′ chicken shed on his property of Lazaro Santos on Key Lime Boulevard in The Acreage was destroyed Monday, May 14, 2018. The National Weather Service in Miami is still gathering reports of damage in The Acreage where a tornado warning was issued this morning. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

UPDATE 12:07 P.M.: Rain and thunderstorms will persist over South Florida for the next few days as a slow-moving area of low pressure in the Gulf of Mexico sucks tropical moisture into the area.

The Storm Prediction Center has the area at a marginal risk for severe weather, which could include brief and weak tornadoes.

Localized flooding may also be possible with the heaviest rainfall.


See images of possible tornado damage in western Palm Beach County.

The tropical disturbance dumping rain throughout Florida and triggering an early morning tornado warning has a 40 percent chance of development over the next five days, according to a special forecast from the National Hurricane Center.

That remains unchanged from the center’s first forecast Sunday afternoon, which also gives the system a 30 percent chance of developing into a tropical cyclone or subtropical storm over the next 48 hours.

Regardless of development, high rainfall amounts are expected as the slow moving area of low pressure treks north hugging Florida’s west coast.

The next hurricane center forecast on this disturbance will be issued by 4 p.m.

The National Weather Service in Miami is still gathering reports of damage in The Acreage where a tornado warning was issued this morning.

Robert Molleda, the warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami, is in western Palm Beach County looking for clues that the uprooted trees, dumped over sheds and mangled screens were caused by a tornado.

LIVE RADAR: Check The Palm Beach Post’s radar map.

David Cox, who lives across the street from where the wind damage occurred this morning, said he lost electricity for a short while, but it was quickly restored.

“What I heard was a bunch of wind coming across, like a screeching noise and wind,” Cox said. “It wasn’t really scary. I’m a Floridian. I’ve been through of bunch of hurricanes.”

Robert Lisboa of Best Glass Guys repairs damage to window panes in the home of Mary Burgio in the Acreage Monday morning, May 14, 2018. “Nine panes were broken,” Burgio said. “The tree branches came a-flying.” (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

At Mike and Marcy Jordan’s home on 72nd Court North, the storm ripped a door off the east side of their house, dragged a 40-foot skateboard ramp three feet, pulled panels off the pool fence and uprooted a tree in the paddock they maintain for their 18-year-old horse, Flash.

Mike Jordan said he was watching the news when the worst of the storm hit. He heard the tornado warning. “About two minutes after that, there it was,” he said.

The Jordans, their sons and neighbors walked around their soggy yard Monday morning assessing the damage and beginning repairs. One neighbor sat perched on top of their stable helping secure a tarp to protect Flash from continuing rain.

Around the corner on Apache Boulevard, Mary Burgio already had a worker from Loxahatchee-based Glass Guys repairing eight lanes of glass on her home.

Burgio said the wind really geared up about 5:17 a.m., rippling branches off her towering, 60-foot oak tree and sending more branches from another tree into her second-floor bedroom windows.

Siding was torn from her shed and a cover for her water system was tossed down the street. “But surprisingly, my son’s wheelbarrow is fine,” she said, laughing. “A $20 wheelbarrow and it’s just sitting there.”

Broward County sheriff’s deputy Erica Chace stood in the backyard of her home on 74th Street North surveying the extensive damage to her roof, including large patches of missing shingles. The fascia at the front of her house was pulled away, forming a “U” shape away from the rest of the roof.

“There’s parts of the roof where it’s exposed inside,” she said, watching a neighbor who came to help cover the roof as more rain is expected for the next few days.

Missing from Chace’s yard: her lawn furniture and a yellow recycling bin. “I think some of my lawn furniture may be in the pond,” she said. “I found some cushions kind of floating in there.”

Chace, who with her husband and two Yorkshire terriers has lived in the home since January, said she heard a massive amount of wind and thunder early this morning. “I thought my roof, that the whole top of my house was going to go flying off,” she said.

After working for BSO through Hurricane Irma, Chace said this morning’s weather was worse. “I’ve never experienced anything like this,” the lifelong Floridian said.

Across the street, Lazaro Santos was picking up pieces of his farm yard. He also was missing something, albeit much larger: a 700-pound shed that sheltered his 9-year-old mare. “I don’t know where it is,” he said, gesturing to the sky. “It’s just gone.”

Santos was asleep when the storm began moving through. He woke up to his burglar alarm going off, and walked out to see his back doors trying to open inward as his front doors were sucked open. “All of the windows started rattling,” he said. “I brought my kids in my closet and within seconds it was over.”

UPDATE 7:40 A.M.: A flood advisory has been issued for northeastern Palm Beach County in effect until 9 a.m.

National Weather Service forecasters are warning of heavy rain from thunderstorms that could cause minor flooding in areas of Palm Beach Gardens, Wellington, Royal Palm Beach and Loxahatchee Groves where up to 3 inches of rain has already fallen.

A marine warning has also been issued for coastal areas from Riviera Beach to Tequesta as strong thunderstorms begin moving on shore. Forecasters warn waterspouts and suddenly higher waves are possible with these storms. The warning is in effect until 8:15 a.m.

A tropical disturbance that has been given a 40 percent chance of developing over the next five days has already dumped incredible amounts of rain in Palm Beach County and triggered a tornado warning this morning.

The tornado warning for areas near Lion Country Safari Park, or seven miles west of Wellington, expired at 6:30 a.m. with the thunderstorm moving into Martin County, but National Weather Service forecasters in Miami are continuing to monitor other potentially dangerous storms. A tornado warning has been issued for Central Martin County until 7:30 a.m.

LIVE RADAR: Check The Palm Beach Post’s radar map.

About 351 customers in Palm Beach County are without power this morning, but it’s unclear if any of the outages are storm related.

More than 4 inches of rain has fallen in parts of Palm Beach County since showers began Sunday morning, according to the South Florida Water Management District.

That includes 4.39 inches in Boynton Beach, 3.9 inches in Lake Worth, 2.9 inches in North Palm Beach, 2 inches in Jupiter, 2.5 inches in Delray Beach, 3.6 inches in suburban Boca Raton, and 2.65 inches in Boca Raton.

The official National Weather Service gauge at Palm Beach International Airport recorded .97 inches through midnight.

But other coastal areas in West Palm Beach recorded higher amounts. Just east of the airport, more than 2 inches was recorded on my home gauge. Palm Beach Post Editor Carolyn DiPaolo received 3 inches as of this morning.

The National Hurricane Center identified the low pressure system bringing all this rain Sunday as a potential tropical system, giving it a 40 percent chance of formation over the next five days and a 30 percent chance over two days.

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An update from hurricane center forecasters is expected by 11 a.m., but meteorologists said Sunday they don’t expect much more than heavy rain and some thunderstorms from the system, regardless of whether it develops.

This GOES East satellite image clearly shows the thunderstorm erupting over Palm Beach County that triggered the tornado warming this morning.

“At this point the intensity doesn’t matter because it already is what it’s going to be – a big blob of rain,” said Dave Samuhel, a senior meteorologist for AccuWeather. “It’s going to have some wind, but mostly a lot of rain that will open a channel of moisture over Florida all week.”

6 a.m. UPDATE: The tornado warning has been extended until 6:30 a.m.

Just before 6 a.m. a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado was 9 miles west of North County Airport, or 11 miles southwest of Indiantown. It was moving northwest at 15 miles per hour.

Original story: A severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado was located near The Acreage, 8 miles north of Wellington and moving at 20 miles per hour.

The warning covers Palm Beach Gardens, The Acreage, Loxahatchee Groves and Caloosa.

The warning, issued by the National Weather Service, is in effect until 6 a.m.

The weather service is asking that people move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building and avoid windows. If you are outdoors, in a mobile
home, or in a vehicle, move to the closest shelter and
protect yourself from flying debris.

“Wizard of Oz” storms Tuesday stir up gustnado near Lion Country Safari

Tornadoes cut into South Florida on Tuesday as a line of furious thunderstorms pushed through near rush hour.

One twister, initially identified as a tornado, hit at about 3:10 p.m. four miles west-southwest of Lion Country Safari in an open field south of 20 Mile Bend.

National Weather Service meteorologists in Miami preliminarily identified the tornado in Palm Beach County through social media video. But further review of the video this morning showed it to be a “gustnado” – a strong whirlwind at the leading edge of a storm front or squall line.

Gustnado location southwest of Lion Country Safari.

Robert Molleda, warning coordination meteorologist with the NWS in Miami, said it can be difficult to tell the difference between a gustnado and a tornado.

A gustnado forms at the surface ahead of a thunderstorm and never stretches high enough into the atmosphere to connect to a cloud.

“It stays very, very shallow, and as it runs ahead of the storm, it just kind of breaks up,” Molleda said. “The tornado is connected from the surface to the cloud, the gustnado is not.”

That doesn’t mean a gustnado can’t pack a punch. It’s typically weaker than a torndao, but if it forms near buildings or trees, there can be localized damage.

Tuesday’s thunderstorms, which were not expected to bring severe weather, hit Fort Lauderdale the hardest where the two tornadoes touched down in the city center and near the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

National Weather Service meteorologists in Miami said both tornadoes were rated EF-0 with 65-mph winds.

The first twister spun up in downtown Fort Lauderdale at 3:34 p.m. and zipped a 3.47-mile path from Andrews Avenue through to Port Everglades.

The second tornado began at 4:25 p.m. south-southwest of Fort Lauderdale and traveled 3.2 miles to the southern end of Port Everglades.

The tornadoes damaged cargo and storage containers at the airport, flipped multiple cargo containers at the at Port Everglades, and knocked down construction fencing and barriers downtown.

Jennifer Berthiaume, managing director for Lion Country Safari, said the storm came up quickly and seemed more intense than a typical South Florida thunderstorm.

“It was similar to what you see in the Wizard of Oz, it came through quickly and then was calm,” Berthiaume said. “I could see the wind picking up and it was blowing the rain sideways.”

No animals were hurt, and there was minimal damage to trees, but the park did lose electricity for about 5 hours.

“We kept the park open because, believe it or not, we had guests show up right after the storm was done,” Berthiaume said. “We went to a $10 rate because we knew not everything was operational.”

Ten minutes after the storm passed, Lion Country Safari guests were up at the giraffe feeding platform feeding giraffes. Richard Evers, of the wildlife team, gives a thumbs up that the animals and guests are okay.

In Palm Beach County, areas near Boca Raton received more than 2 inches of rain, with Delray Beach measuring 1.44 inches and Royal Palm Beach receiving 1.7 inches.

For many areas that’s more rain in one 24-hour period than in all of March. Much of coastal Palm Beach County received just .53 inches of rain last month – 3 inches below normal.

It’s unknown how Tuesday’s rain affected the moderate drought that was reported last week in Palm Beach County by the U.S. Drought Monitor. The data for the report, released on Thursday’s, is gathered through 8 a.m. Tuesday, so it’s unlikely Tuesday’s rainfall will be considered in this week’s measurement.

South Florida Water Management District officials are asking people to reduce landscape watering following the rain and “give your sprinkler a well-deserved break to conserve water.”

Weather service cuts planned following year of record storms

The National Weather Service wants to cut hundreds of forecasting jobs on the heels of a year when weather disasters strafed the nation costing $306 billion in losses and stealing more than 360 lives.

The cuts, outlined in the Trump administration’s fiscal year 2019 budget, are part of an effort to streamline the 148-year-old agency and end the costly, yet venerated, practice of operating all weather forecasting offices 24-hours-a-day, year-round.

Hurricanes Katia, Irma and Jose all spun simultaneously in September 2017.

Of 355 weather service positions that would be lost nationwide through attrition, 248 are meteorologists making local forecasts, issuing severe weather alerts and launching twice-daily weather balloons to gather critical data from a layered atmosphere.

Florida has six of the nation’s 122 weather forecasting offices in Key West, Miami, Melbourne, Jacksonville, Tampa and Tallahassee.

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Dan Sobien, president of the National Weather Service Employees Organization, expects one or more of Florida’s offices to be open fewer hours and with less employees — a move he said puts lives at risk in a state with multiple weather torments.

In just 2017, the Sunshine State was beset by tornadoes, drought, wildfires, floods, a March freeze, Tropical Storm Emily, the remnants of Philippe, a Cat 4 hurricane and deadly summertime thunderstorms.

Flagler Drive is raked by wind, rain and water from the Intracoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach Sunday afternoon, September 10, 2017 as winds from Hurricane Irma rake the county. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

“We are very close to our breaking point right now and if you cut hundreds more positions, we can’t do it,” said Sobien, a former meteorologist in Tampa’s NWS office. “The mission of the National Weather Service is to save lives. This budget would jeopardize that.”

Also on the chopping block…Read the full story to find out what else is at stake and how it may affect your forecast at

2017 was 3rd warmest for U.S., second warmest for Florida

Every state in the contiguous U.S. experienced above average warmth in 2017, leading this past year to come in as third warmest on record.

According to a report released this morning by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2017 had an annual average temperature of 54.6 degrees. That’s 2.6 degrees above the 20th century average, but fell behind the previous record warm years of 2012 (55.3 degrees) and 2016 (54.9 degrees).

Five states had their top warmest year in records that date back to 1895, including Arizona, Georgia, New Mexico, North Carolina and South Carolina.

A cold snap in mid-December knocked Florida off track for 2017 being its warmest year, pushing it to second place.

“Just the fact that every state had above average temperatures is significant and there were numerous states where it was the warmest it has ever been on record,” said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist with NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. “Above average temperatures spanned the nation from coast to coast.”

The report also looked at the 16 weather and climate-related disasters with losses that exceeded $1 billion.

Total costs nationwide for the disasters that ranged from tropical cyclones to wildfires is an estimated $306 billion.

That shatters the previous record of $215 billion set in 2005 that was largely attributed to hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma.

Hurricane Irma, a March freeze in the southeast and a tornado outbreak in January 2017, were listed as disasters that cost Florida and other states $52 billion in losses. Irma accounted for $50 billion of that estimate.

“The Florida Keys were heavily impacted, as 25 percent of buildings were destroyed while 65 percent were significantly damaged,” the report says about Irma. “Severe wind and storm surge damage also occurred along the coasts of Florida and South Carolina. Jacksonville, Fla. and Charleston, SC received near-historic levels of storm surge causing significant coastal flooding.”

Deke Arndt, monitoring section chief for NOAA’s NCEI, noted that the loss data only goes back to 1980 when public and private data is most accurate.

The 16 billion-dollar events ties 2011 for the record number of billion-dollar disasters for an entire calendar year.

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Photos: Harvey brings back memories of Tropical Storm Isaac flooding

Palm Beach County got a tiny taste of a tropical cyclone-driven deluge in August 2012 when Tropical Storm Isaac sputtered by with little wind damage, but dumped more than a foot of rain when a training band of moisture stalled over the county.

Some residents in western Palm Beach County were stranded for five days in flood waters that lapped at their front doors. Firefighters drove trucks through 4-feet of water to help get people to doctor’s appointments or to buy supplies. Some schools were closed for a week.

Check out The Palm Beach Post’s photo gallery of the record-breaking event. 

A vehicle passes through deep water on Andover Coach Lane in Wycliffe Golf and Country Club. Many of the streets in Wycliffe were still underwater Wednesday afternoon. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

Video: Rare up close images of terrifying tornado

The Storm Prediction Center recorded 32 tornadoes on Monday in Wyoming and Nebraska including a monster twister that gave storm chasers a good jolt.

Ohio Storm Chasers got up close and personal with a tornado in Carpenter, Wyo., that tossed debris at their car before forming into a perfect funnel like something out of the movie Twister.

Center forecasters listed just two people as being injured in the tornadoes.

Palm Beach County Parks Department worker Dan Othus cleans up damage caused by a tornado at Okeeheelee Park on August 4, 2015. The tornado damaged Ski Club of the Palm Beaches scoring towers and uprooted trees. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

In March, three storm chasers, including two who were contractors for The Weather Channel, were killed in Texas when their cars collided during the pursuit of the ultimate prize – a Great Plains twister.

“The riskiest part of storm chasing is the driving,” said Florida State University professor James Elsner, who is a tornado expert and has accompanied students on chases. “Often conditions make for slick roads and poor visibility.”

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

A more than two-hour live­stream posted to one of the chaser’s YouTube channel Tuesday shows the pursuit before the crash. At one point, a voice can be heard saying the livestream was being aired on The Weather Channel.

“Over the past five to seven years, it has grown so rapidly with the TV shows, Discovery Channel, Weather Channel. It’s grown exponentially,” said Morgan Guigon, a Florida Atlantic University student and founder of South Florida Storm Chasers. “People are under immense pressure to catch the shot and keep the storm in front of them and keep live streaming the storm.”

The book “Florida Weather,” co-written by state climatologist David Zierden, says Florida has more tornadoes per 10,000 square miles than any state in the nation, “even Oklahoma.”

But because most Florida tornadoes are short-lived, smaller and less visible than those on the Great Plains, they tend to get less attention.

“Nonetheless, tornadoes in Florida have caused considerable loss of life and damage in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” the book notes.

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Screen grab from YouTube video posted by Ohio Storm Chasers.

Drivers face heavy showers, flooded roads for rush hour

Update 4:12 p.m.: The commute home in Palm Beach County may be precarious with heavy showers continuing through the evening.

Be careful anywhere flooding is typical with heavy rains. There is minor flooding in Boynton Beach along Ocean Avenue and Seacrest Boulevard.

See reporter Alexandra Seltzer’s blog on current conditions in Boynton here. 

A flood watch for inland and coastal Palm Beach County is in effect through tonight and may be extended as rain will continue through at least Wednesday.

Update 3:42 p.m.: A flood watch has been issued for areas of inland and coastal Palm Beach County.

The National Weather Service in Miami issued the watch after significant rainfall amounts of up to 4 inches have fallen in Palm Beach County. The watch is in effect through this evening, and could be extended as the rains are expected to continue through at least tomorrow.

Areas of Boynton Beach along Ocean Avenue are experiencing minor road flooding.

Ocean Avenue in Boynton Beach, photo by Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Alexandra Seltzer
A car pushes through the water on Seacrest Avenue in Boynton Beach, as heavy rain continues to fall, June 6, 2017. (Greg Lovett / The Palm Beach Post)

Update 2:52 p.m.: A significant weather advisory has been issued for areas of southwest Palm Beach County.

Forecasters are warning of an approaching thunderstorm with up to 55 mph winds. Torrential rainfall is also occurring with this storm.

The advisory is in effect until 3:30 p.m.

Update 1:35 p.m.: The southwest coast of Florida is taking the brunt of today’s storms, with up to 14 inches already falling and the National Weather Service warning of “life threatening” conditions. 

South Florida Water Management District estimates of 24-hour rainfall in Collier County are as high as 14 inches. A flash flood warning for southern Collier County is in effect until 3:15 p.m.

Weather service forecasters said flash flooding has been reported by law enforcement in Everglades City where 10 to 12 inches of rain has fallen since this morning.

Update 11:45 a.m.: The National Weather Service in Miami is confirming a weak tornado touched down in Broward County Monday night.

The tornado was classified as an EF-0 and hit near Sheridan Street and Flamingo Road east of Interstate 75. An initial report on the Storm Prediction Center website includes no mention of damage.

Update 10:45 a.m.:  Scattered to numerous showers are expected throughout today with some storms becoming severe this afternoon, according to the National Weather Service in Miami.

The Storm Prediction Center has South Florida at a marginal threat for severe weather today, with the main concerns being heavy rain and damaging winds with any strong thunderstorms that develop.

Radar image as of 10:55 a.m.

Update 9:55 a.m.: Boynton Beach has canceled its D-Day ceremony as thick storms continue to stream over Palm Beach County.

Forecasters are mostly concerned about flooding with the possibility of up to 5 inches of rain falling in isolated areas along southeast Florida.

But the worst of the storms so far have concentrated over the southwest coast with 8.88 inches reported this morning in Everglades City.

Related: Rainy Day Guide: Top 5 indoor spots for kids

National Weather Service meteorologists in Miami said the main concern today is for areas of heavy rainfall and flooding, although strong thunderstorms capable of producing a “brief” tornado are also possible.

After the seventh-driest dry season on record in West Palm Beach, more than 5 inches of rain fell in parts of central Palm Beach County between Friday afternoon and Monday afternoon.

The countywide burn ban has been canceled because of the high rainfall.

Last week, Florida was the lone area in the country suffering extreme drought. A U.S. Drought Monitor report will be released Thursday morning, taking into account rain that fell through this morning.

Drought report issued May 30, 2017.

Update 7:08 a.m.: Storms moving into Palm Beach County could cause rainfall of 3 inches per hour with isolated amounts as high as 5 inches, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

The center notes that while the heavy rain may relieve drought across the Everglades, it could be “an issue for urban areas.”

“The wettest days look to be now through Wednesday,” said John Gresiak, senior forecaster at AccuWeather. “There may be a little less activity around Thursday, but it will still be fairly wet.”

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

National Weather Service forecasters in Miami have a special weather advisory in effect for South Palm Beach County for up to 55-mph winds and the development of funnel clouds.

The advisory is in effect until 8 a.m.


Previous story: Storms moving into southwest Palm Beach County have triggered a severe thunderstorm warning with forecasters alerting to possible tornadoes and 60 mph winds.

The storm was located near Big Cypress Seminole Reservation and moving northeast at 30 mph.

These kinds of intense thunderstorm lines can produce brief tornadoes and widespread significant wind damage. The warning is in effect until 7:15 a.m.

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

The biggest threat for tornadoes this morning has been over the Gulf of Mexico and the western side of South Florida, however, weak rotation has been observed with some of the activity over the Atlantic, forecasters in Miami said.

Broward County was issued a tornado watch at 5:19 a.m. as storms entered its southwest borders. That warning has since expired.

Storms have been weakening as they move inland from the Gulf coast, although that may change as daytime heating occurs.

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The Storm Prediction Center has South Florida in a marginal risk for severe weather today with a low possibility for tornadoes, but higher risks for flooding as up to 4 inches is possible in some areas.

Melancholy skies will be a stubborn companion in South Florida this week with bouts of torrential rain, flooding and strong thunderstorms possible through at least Thursday.

The photo below was taken in Broward County yesterday.

The atmospheric fits can be blamed on multiple swirls of low pressure drifting along the front of a stalled air mass north of the state, coupled with a massive dose of tropical air pumping in from the south.

It’s a soupy combination that caused a robust shower to drop more than 2 inches of rain in Boynton Beach on Monday afternoon, according to South Florida Water Management gauges. The deluge closed parts of Seacrest Boulevard and left a trail of overturned garbage cans and palm fronds on Federal Highway.

“We have a really, really moist air mass in place,” said Kevin Scharfenberg, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Miami. “Combine all the factors together — sustained southerly winds, remnant moisture from Beatriz — and we are almost saturated.”

Afternoon storm floods Seacrest Boulevard at Gateway Boulevard in Boynton Beach on June 5, 2017. (Alexandra Seltzer / The Palm Beach Post)


Severe storms forecast this week, 60 mph winds, isolated tornadoes possible

Severe weather is forecast to precede a cold front approaching Florida this week with the possibility of strong thunderstorms, 60 mph winds and tornadoes.

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Miami said the timing of the storms is still unclear, but they are expecting them sometime Wednesday through Thursday.

“At the present time, damaging winds look to be the primary threat, although an isolated tornado or two cannot be ruled out,” said Ian Lee, a meteorologist with the NWS in Miami.

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla.,  has put much of northern and western Palm Beach County in is “slight” category for severe weather.

Slight is the second level on a five-tier threat scale. It means scattered severe storms are possible with isolated intense storms and hail between 1 and 2 inches. About 12 million Floridians from Jacksonville to just north of West Palm Beach are in the slight category beginning Wednesday.

Download the Palm Beach Post WeatherPlus app here.

The southeast part of Palm Beach County, including West Palm Beach, is at a “marginal” risk for severe weather, which is the lowest tier on the five-tier scale. A marginal risk means isolated severe thunderstorms are possible with winds between 40 and 60 mph and 1-inch hail.

Storms this week will be emboldened by a deep dip in the jet stream, with a mid to upper-level jet stream will be zooming overhead at 150 mph. That can help cool the upper atmosphere and lead to more robust storms.

Jet stream  at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

May is the month that typically sees the most tornadoes nationwide.

But Florida is a little different. Summer afternoon thunderstorms kicked up the by the sea breeze, and tornadoes accompanying tropical cyclones, mean high numbers later in the year. Florida’s tornadoes are most likely to occur June through October.

The book “Florida Weather,” co-written by state climatologist David Zierden, says Florida has more tornadoes per 10,000 square miles than any state in the nation, “even Oklahoma.”

But because most Florida tornadoes are short-lived, smaller and less visible than those on the Great Plains, they tend to get less attention.

“Nonetheless, tornadoes in Florida have caused considerable loss of life and damage in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” the book notes.

The Weather Prediction Center is not forecasting much rain in South Florida with the storms. Its 5-day total through Saturday morning is up to 2 inches.

Central Florida, where the worst of the state’s drought is, could get up to 3.2 inches.

Extreme drought has spread to 15 percent of the state, with nearly 40 percent suffering severe drought.


Valid May 18, 2017

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JUST IN: How an ‘omega block’ will affect South Florida’s weekend weather

A cold front punching through Florida on Friday will be heralded by showers and gusty thunderstorms, but leave in its wake a weekend of low humidity, sunshine and markedly cooler nights.

The front is part of an unusual weather bottleneck in the upper atmosphere that will spread a lingering chill throughout the Northeast while sending dry westerly winds toward South Florida.

Dan Kottlowski, a senior meteorologist with the Pennsylvania-based AccuWeather, called South Florida’s weekend forecast “beautiful,” but said first comes Friday afternoon storms that could be more robust than what blew through Tuesday.

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Lightning over West Palm Beach, August 2015. Photo by Post Photo Editor Greg Lovett

Tuesday’s front triggered severe thunderstorm warnings throughout Palm Beach County, and National Weather Service forecasters said an EF-0 tornado touched down at about 5:30 p.m. in a field 5 miles north-northeast of Belle Glade. There was no damage, according to the NWS, which confirmed the tornado status after watching a passerby’s video.

“This front will be more impressive,” Kottlowski said about Friday. “It looks like late afternoon, early evening, will be the best chance for strong thunderstorms with gusty winds, but it won’t be a widespread severe weather threat.”

The wet and blustery forecast could affect SunFest in downtown West Palm Beach, which opens its doors at 5 p.m. with bands starting to play an hour later. Headliners on Friday are Flo Rida at 9:45 p.m. on the Ford stage and Ziggy Marley at 9 p.m. on the Tire Kingdom stage.

Melissa Sullivan, a SunFest spokeswoman, said organizers speak with meteorologists daily and there are emergency plans if severe weather threatens. She asked that people attending SunFest on Friday also watch the weather and SunFest’s social-media sites for possible schedule changes.

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“There’s nothing we can do about it,” Sullivan said about the forecast. “If something happens after the gates open, we definitely have weather procedures in place and evacuation plans.”

Festival-goers below and stage lights above were wrapped for the steady rain that greeted day two of a soggy SunFest, Thursday, May 2, 2013.
(Jennifer Podis/The Palm Beach Post)

NWS meteorologists in Miami are also predicting showers and thunderstorms ahead of the front, but said the “overall severe threat continues to look minimal at this time.” The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., has Friday thunderstorms forecast for South Florida, but the region was not under a threat level Wednesday.

Spring is prime time for storms capable of producing tornadoes, such as the one on Tuesday. Late-season cold fronts interact with warming spring air that can put a spin on thunderstorms. In Florida, tornado concerns continue through summer when afternoon thunderstorms are common.

“Any thunderstorm that develops almost any time of year, if it starts rotating a little bit, it can spawn a weak tornado,” Kottlowski said.

Following the Friday’s front, temperatures will be slightly cooler than normal, with the high Saturday in West Palm Beach expected to reach 82 degrees. Overnight lows will be in the mid-60s on the coast to upper-50s inland.

“The big story here will be the humidity,” Kottlowski said. “It will be very, very low.”

The drop in humidity is connected to an evolving omega block – a weather pattern so-called because the jet stream takes the shape of the Greek letter omega. In the current forecast, the jet stream bulges over the central U.S. and dips over the Northeast, ushering in colder air.

“Essentially, the atmosphere will be clogged,” wrote Weather Channel digital meteorologist Brian Donegan in a blog. “Storm systems in the east and west will be stuck over the same areas for multiple days, bringing occasional showers, clouds and cooler-than-average temperatures.”

But for Florida, the omega block brings “fantastic weather,” Kottlowski said.

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