Six-day streak of August-like days may end with afternoon thunderstorms

Sunrise over the Intracoastal in West Palm Beach on Friday, Sept. 21 2018.

South Florida has been on a six-day streak of 90-degree days or warmer with two days this week reaching a sizzling 93 degrees at Palm Beach International Airport.

The normal daytime high for this time of year is 88 degrees, with overnight lows at 75.

September 2018 temperatures at Palm Beach International Airport.

Wednesday and Thursday both hit 93 – not enough to break records which were 94 degrees on both days, but 5 degrees above normal.

Nine days this month have been 90 degrees or warmer.

RELATED: Safest places to live in Florida to avoid a hurricane

That’s more like what’s typical in late July through August.

Robert Garcia, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami, said the warm temperatures are partly because the Bermuda High has had a strong grip on Florida.

High pressure leads to sunny skies and warmer temperatures as air sinks and warms compressionally as it does so.

But, there’s also an upper-level area of low pressure.

The two have turned off the typical sea breezes that can cool the air in the afternoon and help kick up thunderstorms.

The storms that have come in have been more pop-up in nature, including a strong one that hit Broward County on Thursday that included quarter-size hail, according to the NWS.

CHECK The Palm Beach Post radar map

“It’s a weird pattern,” Garcia said. “The flow has just been stagnant compared to a normal summer breeze.

That could end today with an increase in chances for thunderstorms.

“These storms could be really slow moving so we could see some areas of ponding where the rain is heavy,” Garcia said.

Saturday is the first day of fall as the equinox marks the Earth begins to tilt the Northern Hemisphere toward autumn.

At the moment of equinox, the Earth’s axis leans neither toward or away from the sun — a parity that produces a nearly equal day and night.

But Garcia said don’t expect any significant dip in temperatures.

While North Florida may experience a cold front in September, they typically don’t push south until at least mid October after the onset of the rainy season, which begins Oct. 15.

“I think we’re still very much in the rainy season for now,” Garcia said.

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Are hurricane shutters canary in coal mine for aluminum tariffs?

Raymundo Orozco, (L) and Enrique Rodriguez of Guardian Storm Protection work on hurricane shutter tracks in suburban West Palm Beach, Florida, September 19, 2018. The tariff’s on steel and aluminum are forcing delays and increases in the the costs for hurricane shutters in South Florida. (Greg Lovett / The Palm Beach Post)

Halfway through hurricane season, a high-end Frenchman’s Creek home in Palm Beach Gardens finally got its $40,000 in aluminum hurricane shuttersWednesday — a hard-fought for prize in the new age of tariffs.

Ordered in April, the nearly four-month wait is more than quadruple the norm as aluminum prices edge up and supply dwindles with more mills looking toavoid tariffs by buying American, said Andy Kobosko, Jr., owner of Guardian Storm Protection in suburban West Palm Beach.

Kobosko, whose company filled the Frenchman’s Creek order, said he’s recently reduced delays to four to six weeks by buying in bulk with his Fort Lauderdale-based distributor. A normal wait time for shutters before the tariffs was two to three weeks, Kobosko said.

“Things are starting to catch up, but it’s been a stressful three months,” he said.

RELATED: Safest places to live in Florida to avoid a hurricane

Since President Donald Trump’s…READ the rest of the story at MyPalmBeachPost.com and find out why Florida may be insulated to some extent from tariff impacts. 

Tenacious tropics try to stir up Kirk under Saharan air plume

The tropics are nothing if not tenacious this September, with a tropical wave trying to become the next named storm under a plume of dry Saharan air.

National Hurricane Center forecasters are giving the area of disturbed weather only a 20 percent of tropical development over the next five days, with nearly no chance of development in the next 48 hours.

STORM 2018: Hurricane Central

But it will have to spin up fast to earn the moniker Kirk because winds become less favorable for development over the weekend.

A plume of Saharan air is shown in the orange and red colors leaving the coast of Africa.

Jason Dunion, a meteorologist with the University of Miami who tracks Saharan air, said the current outbreak is “fairly impressive”, but not extremely unusual for this time of year.

And, it’s unlikely it will make it all the way into the Caribbean.

According to Dunion’s research, the Saharan air layer, or SAL, makes it into the Caribbean about 40 percent of the time between late June to early August.

RELATED: Tropics cool after frenetic week of storms…what’s on the horizon? 

But by September, SAL outbreaks overspread the Caribbean only 10 to 15 percent of the time.

“It’s just that they’re a bit smaller than their June to August cousins and they especially don’t tend to reach as far west,” Dunion said.

Forecasters said Monday that tropical development was unlikely over the next 10 days.

While hurricane season lasts through Nov. 30, the tropical waves that produce Cape Verde storms tend to diminish by late September, said Bob Henson, a meteorologist for Weather Underground, part of IBM.

“We’ve come past the normal peak and it was an especially sharp peak this year because everything kind of aligned,” Henson said. “It was just a constellation of ingredients that came together and if the formula changes just a little bit, the numbers can drop pretty sharply.”

This year, three hurricanes — Florence, Helene and Isaac — and two tropical storms — Gordon and Joyce — formed between Sept. 1 and Sept. 12.

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VIDEO: Weather reporters told to “stop acting like you’re hanging on for dear life”

Weather Channel reporter buffeted by winds as two people seemingly stride behind him unimpeded by Hurricane Florence’s winds.

Weather reporters covering Hurricane Florence no doubt dealt with hammering wind, driving rain, and charging storm surge.

But some people are criticizing what they feel are overly-dramatic reports from the storm.

In one clip, seasoned Weather Channel reporter Mike Seidel is bracing against Florence’s wind in Wilmington, N.C. when two people seemingly stride by behind him with little trouble in the gale.

The Weather Channel defended the experienced meteorologist.

“It’s important to note that the two individuals in the background are walking on concrete and Mike Seidel is trying to maintain his footing on wet grass, after reporting on-air until 1 a.m. this morning and is undoubtedly exhausted,” it said in a statement.

The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang called out Hurricane Florence reporters in general who it thought were “manufacturing” action, “leaning into 30 mph winds like they are battling a Category 5.”

Deputy Weather Editor Angela Fritz said the drama is “driving me up the wall.”

“Really? There is no need for this,” she wrote in a column. “The wind is not the story here, and everyone knows it because they watched Florence drop in strength before it made landfall.”

Plus, Fritz said, if you are going to lean into the winds of a raging storm (turn your sound down) “do it right.” 

In other social media posts, meteorologists were criticized for standing outside in the weather, while admonishing viewers not to do the same.

Ginger Zee, chief meteorologist at ABC News, responded saying she always puts safety first.

Florida Climatologist David Zierden also chimed in, asking if being outside during a storm is any less safe than a football game.

Above normal year for tropics, what’s in store for second half?

Hurricane season runs June 1 through Nov. 30 and has so far challenged forecasts calling for a below normal season.

Through today, there have been 10 named storms, 53.5 named storm days, five hurricanes, 16 hurricane days and an accumulated cyclone energy, or ACE, of 81.4.  ACE is a way to measure the strength and duration of storms.

CHECK The Palm Beach Post’s live hurricane tracking map.

A normal season as calculated for years 1981 through 2010, has 7.5 named storms through today, 3.6 hurricanes, 14 hurricane days and an ACE of 63.5.

Data gathered by Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project.

But much of this year’s activity occurred just last week with Hurricanes Florence, Isaac and Helene. The storms were later joined by Tropical Storm Joyce in the far off Atlantic.

A week ago, the Atlantic basin was abuzz with activity.

RELATED: ‘It was a mad house’: Surfers jam beaches in hope of Florence swells 

Hurricanes Florence, Isaac and Helene spin in the tropical Atlantic on Sept. 10, 2018.

Today, Florence and Joyce have been downgraded to tropical depressions, Helene is history, and the remnants of Isaac are floundering south of Jamaica with only a 10 percent chance of development.

GOES-East image of the Atlantic basin on Sept. 17, 2018

Colorado State University, which issues two-week forecasts for the tropics, has the next two weeks at near-normal activity.

VIDEO: Hurricane hunters find cloud canyon in Florence’s eye

“We had a recent flurry of activity in early to mid-September, bu tthe next two weeks looks to be relativley quiet once the current storms dissipate,” the forecast from Thursday says. 

One reason for a quieter week could be a large plume of Saharan air entering the Atlantic basin.

Saharan dust concentrations are show in yellows and orange.

But AccuWeather forecasters aren’t giving up on Isaac making a comeback in the Gulf of Mexico later this week.

“AccuWeather meteorologists are not suggesting that Isaac will turn into another Harvey, which fell apart entering the western Caribbean then rapidly regained strength while moving across the Gulf of Mexico,” forecasters wrote,

The key, according to AccuWeather hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski, will be in how much wind shear Isaac encounters and whether it can avoid interaction with the Yucatan Peninsula.

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Why Florence is making it so hot in South Florida

South Florida didn’t see any direct impacts from Hurricane Florence, but sinking air and southwest winds on the periphery of the storm hiked temperatures to above normal over the weekend.

The daytime high Saturday and Sunday was 91 degrees at Palm Beach International Airport. That’s 3 degrees above normal for this time of year.

A lack of cooling afternoon storms kept it warm into the evening on both days.  As warm as it was, it couldn’t top the record high of 94 degrees for Sept. 15 set in 1950, and 95 degrees for Sept. 16 set in 1990.

CHECK The Palm Beach Post’s live weather radar

This morning’s unofficial low temperature of 79 is 4 degrees above normal, but 1 degree below the record warm low of 81 set in 1906.

Today could be much of the same, said Chris Fisher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami.

“We’re not expecting too much rain so the heat index will be 100 to 105,” Fisher said. “We may see some showers but not as much as you would see on a typical summer day.”

Florence, now a tropical depression, is forecast to move northward today into the Ohio Valley and then northeast across the northeastern portion of the U.S. tomorrow.

That change will give the high pressure that has been over South Florida for the past couple of days a chance to move north into Central and North Florida, shifting south Florida’s winds to a more easterly flow off the water.

While it may be mid-September, Fisher said noticeably cooler temperatures are several weeks away.

“You really don’t start feeling the difference until early to mid-October,” he said. “Technically, the dry season is still a month away.”

Hurricane Florence makes landfall near Wrightsville Beach, N.C.

Hurricane Florence made landfall this morning near Wrightsville Beach, N.C. at 7:15 a.m.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm had maximum sustained winds of 90 mph at landfall as it continues its 6-mph crawl ashore.

RELATED: Surfers jam beaches in South Florida for Florence swell 

Storm surge as high as 7 feet was recorded at Emerald Isle, N.C. as the Category 1 hurricane moves west.

Wilmington, N.C. is experiencing the highest winds its seen since 1960 when Hurricane Donna struck. Gusts at the Wilmington International Airport this morning have been measured as high as 105 mph.

Although Florence dropped to a Category 1, its wind field expanded with hurricane force-winds now reaching 80 miles from the center and tropical storm-force winds stretching out 195 miles.

The National Weather Service in Wilmington said rainfall amounts of 25 to 35 inches over the next few days could set records for single storm rainfall accumulation.

In Wilmington, where rainfall records date back to 1871, these are the five largest storm total rainfall events on record:

  1. 22.54 inches in Sept. 2010
  2. 19.06 inches in Sept. 1999 (Hurricane Floyd)
  3. 13.99 inches in Oct. 2015
  4. 13.85 inches in Sept. 1984 (Hurricane Diana)
  5. 13.80 inches in Oct. 2005

 

Hurricane Florence making landfall near Wrightsville Beach, N.C. on Sept. 14, 2018.

Hurricane Florence has now been a named storm for 13 days, equaling the length of time that Hurricane Irma was a named storm in 2017, according to Colorado State University storm researcher Phil Klotzbach.

This hurricane season has surpassed the average for the number of  named storms, storm days, hurricane days and Accumulated Cyclone Energy, or ACE.

With the formation of Joyce this week, there have been 10 named storms with 5 hurricanes and 1 major hurricane. There have been 47.5 named storm days, 15.5 hurricane days and 75.4 of ACE.

The normal season at this point has 7 named storms, 3.4 hurricanes and 1.5 major hurricanes. Also, normal years have 32 named storm days at this point, with 56.3 of ACE.

Hurricane Florence makes landfall as a Category 1 storm near Wrightsville Beach, N.C. Sept. 14, 2018.

UPDATE: Hurricane Florence crawling toward the Carolinas, coastal water levels rising

Hurricane Florence nears the coast of the Carolinas, Sept. 13, 2018 as a Category 2 storm.

UPDATE 5 p.m.: Hurricane Florence’s forward speed has slowed to 5 mph as it approaches the Carolinas as a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds.

The National Hurricane Center warns that water levels are rising along portions of the North Carolina coast.

The storm is about 105 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, N.C.

A NOAA observing site at Cape Lookout, N.C. reported a sustained wind of 68 mph and a gust to 85 mph this afternoon. A private weather station in Davis, N.C. reported a sustained wind of 61 mph and gust to 67  mph.

PREVIOUS STORY: Hurricane Florence, now a Category 2 storm with 110 mph winds, is forecast to reach the coastline of the Carolinas early Friday morning with little strengthening expected before landfall.

The track of the storm is finally showing a strong hook to the northeast but not until late Sunday into Monday as steering winds collapse. That means means Florence could sit over areas for 24 hours dumping up to 20 inches of rain in coastal North Carolina.

As of the 8 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Florence was 170 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, N.C.

RELATED: Hurricane hunters find cloud canyon in Florence’s eye

“Florence dominates the waters with dangerous life-threatening marine conditions this period, as it nearly stalls near Cape Fear, and drifts slowly toward the soutwest along the southeast North Carolina coasts,” wrote National Weather Service meteorologists in Wilmington, N.C. about the forecast Friday and Saturday. “Unless the weakening is rapid, hurricane force-winds can be expected all of Friday.”

Hurricane center forecasters warn that as Florence’s wind speeds weaken, the storm size increases. This morning, hurricane force-winds now extend up to 80 miles from the center of the storm with tropical storm-force winds out 195 miles.

Life threatening storm surge and “catastrophic” flash flooding is possible with this storm, the NHC wrote in a Tweet this morning.

There are now four named storms in the Atlantic basin with subtropical storm Joyce named Wednesday, and two areas of disturbed weather with chances of development.

RELATED: What makes Hurricane Florence so dangerous to South Florida?

The last time four named storms spun at the same time was in 2008, according to Colorado State University researcher Phil Klotzbach.

Klotzbach said since records began, there has never been five named storms in the Atlantic with wind speeds of 39 mph or higher (tropical storm force).

Joyce is no threat to land. It is expected to take a similar track as Hurricane Helene to the northeast.

The hurricane center is also tracking Isaac, which remains a tropical storm about 100  miles east of Dominica. The storm is weakening and could become a depression in a few days, but some models have it restrengthening in the western Caribbean, according to the NHC.

“However, the predictability of such an event is too low to explicitly show in the forecast at this point,” the NHC wrote in its 5 a.m. advisory.

Previous story: As the outer rainbands of Hurricane Florence swipe up against the coast of North Carolina, forecasters are warning of possible life-threatening storm surges and flooding.

If the storm, now a Category 2, arrives during high tide, the water could rise up to 13 feet along parts of the North Carolina coast. That area also could be hit with up to 40 inches of rain, according to the National Hurricane Center.

FULL COVERAGE: Latest Hurricane Florence stories

By 5 a.m. today, the storm was about 205 miles east/southeast of Wilmington, N.C. with 110-mph maximum sustained winds.

It is moving at 15 miles per hour and is expected to slow down later tonight.

Hurricane force winds extend outward of up to 80 miles from its center.

CHECK The Palm Beach Post’s storm tracking map

Don’t shoot guns at Florence; ‘I can’t believe I have to write this’

As with 2017’s Hurricane Irma, and likely previous storms that were unwittingly born post Internet, Hurricane Florence is generating some satirical memes and Facebook pages that some people may be falling for.

The Washington Post reports that the perennial Sharknado-motivated Tweets about Florence picking up sharks and flinging them toward shore is making the rounds. It even attributes the news to NOAA Hurricane Hunters.

Another one that motivated Florida’s Pasco County Sheriff’s Office to respond during Irma, is that shooting guns at Florence may make it go away.

The Facebook page “Shooting Guns at Hurricane Florence to Scare it Away” contains a disclaimer from host Ryan Stumpf that recommends against taking the site’s advice.

“Do not actually discharge firearms into the air. You could kill someone and you cannot frighten a hurricane. I can’t believe I actually have to write this.”

And (I can’t believe I’m going to go here) there is a Facebook group that recommends throwing tampons at Florence, playing on the nickname “Aunt Flo” for menstruation.

This disclaimer is on the page:

“This is not real. If you really think throwing some tampons at the hurricane is going to stop it, please go see your doctor.”

Photo of Florence from the International Space Station, courtesy NASA, @astro_alex

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JUST IN: Florence drops to 120-mph storm as it charges toward the Carolinas

Hurricane Florence, Sept. 12, 2018 with 125-mph winds.

UPDATE 5 p.m.: Hurricane Florence’s wind speeds took another hit this afternoon, dropping to a 120-mph storm.

FULL COVERAGE: Latest Hurricane Florence stories

But that’s still a Category 3 major hurricane heading toward the Carolinas at 16 mph.

There have been no changes to watches and warnings as of the 5 p.m. advisory.

National Hurricane Center forecasters cautioned against paying too much attention to a drop in wind speeds as the storm has expanded in size “resulting in an increase in the cyclone’s total energy, which will create a significant storm surge event.”

Storm surge greater than 9-feet is possible up the Neuse and Pamlico rivers.

Hurricane force-winds extend 70 miles from the center of the storm, while tropical storm-force winds now reach out 195 miles.

While forecasters said Florence still has a window of about 24 hours for strengthening, they do not expect any significant increases in intensity.

The official forecast now puts Florence as a 115-mph, Category 3 hurricane as it nears the coast Friday and Saturday.

UPDATE 2 p.m.:  Hurricane Florence dipped to a 125-mph, Category 3 storm this afternoon, but the wind field has increased.

NHC forecasters caution that Florence could undergo fluctuations in speed, and is still expected to reach the coast as a powerful hurricane Friday or Saturday.

As of 2 p.m., Florence was 435 miles southeast of Wilmington, N.C. moving northwest at 16 mph.

CHECK The Palm Beach Post’s storm tracking map

Experts aren’t ruling out another burst of energy before Florence reaches the coast, but the official forecast now calls for a 100-mph Category 2 hurricane near landfall.

“A jump in strength to a Category 5 hurricane is possible Wednesday night to Thursday, before some weakening may take place prior to landfall to end the week,” according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.

Depending on where Florence stalls, or if it stalls, the rain could reach record amounts. The NHC said 20 to 40 inches could be possible in some coastal areas.

“Conditions will go downhill in a hurry Thursday night as the center of Florence approaches the coast,” National Weather Service meteorologists in Wilmington, N.C. wrote in their Wednesday forecast. “The very dry antecedent conditions we’ve had over the past six weeks won’t buy us much reprieve from flooding given the exceptional rainfall amounts expected along the coast north of Myrtle Beach.”

Here’s a map with record rainfall by state.

Rainfall forecast through Monday.

 

A state of emergency has been declared in four states — South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland, as well as Washington, D.C. — to help people prepare for the hurricane.

“There’s never been a storm like Florence. It was located farther north in the Atlantic than any other storm to ever hit the Carolinas, so what we’re forecasting is unprecedented,” AccuWeather Vice President of Forecasting and Graphics Operations Marshall Moss said.

Florence isn’t the only area the National Hurricane Center is watching.

A tropical depression could form in the southwest Gulf of Mexico tomorrow, while a strong area of low pressure 600 miles west-southwest of the Azores appears to be rapidly strengthening into a subtropical or tropical storm, according to the NHC.

The next names on the 2018 list are Joyce and Kirk.

If Joyce and Kirk form up while the other three storms are still spinning, it would be the first time on record the Atlantic had five named storms simultaneously, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.

UPDATE 11 a.m.: Hurricane Florence has maintained its Category 4 wind speeds of 130 mph as it moves northwest at about 15 mph.

As of the most recent advisory, the storm was 485 miles southeast of Wilmington, N.C. with a possible landfall Friday night or Saturday morning.

The storm could strengthen some as it moves over 85-degree waters and the official forecast has it reaching 145 mph over the next day.

But, it is expected to weaken slightly near landfall to a 120 mph – still a major Category 3 hurricane.

Florence is forecast to slow down as it nears the coast, which and recent model tracks have it drifting southward.

Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher with the University of Miami, said that track could deliver a “destructive storm surge to hundreds of miles of coastline, as well as feet of rainfall at the coast and inland.”

Previous story: Hurricane Florence, a dangerous major hurricane, has shifted its track near landfall to the south with a deeper reach into South Carolina and Georgia.

The National Hurricane Center has issued hurricane and storm surge warnings from the South Santee River in South Carolina to Duck, N.C.  But it has discontinued a hurricane watch for the area north of Duck to the Virginia border, changing that to a tropical storm warning.

This change follows the new track guidance which was made as an area of high pressure forms over the east-central U.S., which will block Florence from moving north.

CHECK The Palm Beach Post’s radar for weather conditions

“The message is clear, take this seriously, it is a life threatening situation,” said Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center. “We are all talking about the speed slowing down, this system is not moving very fast and the longer it stays the more it could push the rainfall totals.”

As of 8 a.m., Florence was 530 miles southeast of Cape Fear, N.C. with 130 mph winds. It is moving west-northwest at 17 mph.

Florence is still predicted to increase in intensity to 145 mph over the next day, but a shot of wind shear and the storm pulling cooler water to the surface as it meanders, could reduce wind speeds to 120 mph as it nears the coast.

That’s still a major Category 3 hurricane with “life threatening storm surge and catastrophic flash flooding.”

The Weather Prediction Center is forecasting up to 20 inches of rain along the North Carolina coast through Wednesday.

Florence’s hurricane force-winds extend outward up to 70 miles from its center, with tropical storm-force winds extending outward up to 175 miles.

Storm surge, which is responsible for about 49 percent of deaths directly attributable to Atlantic tropical cyclones, may be higher than 9 feet above ground in portions of North Carolina.

Storm surge watches and warnings are in effect from the Virginia-North Carolina border south to Edisto Beach in South Carolina.

A storm surge watch means there is a possibility of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the coastline in the  next tw days. A warning reduced that to 36 hours.

Hurricane Florence, Sept. 12, 2018

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