Gator fans heading west will feel the effects of a fall cold front first. We will likely have to wait until Monday to experience any relief from the heat and humidity here in Gainesville. The trip to College Station to see Florida play Texas A&M on Friday will likely be rain-free…that is, if you leave by mid-morning. Thunderstorms will become numerous here in the Sunshine State by midday. It also could be a bit stormy on the drive home Sunday, especially when motorists reach the Florida panhandle. Temperatures on Friday ahead of the front across the deep South and in College Station will be pushing 100. The front’s arrival Saturday will stir up a stiff north breeze and cool things down into the upper 80s. There is a very small chance for a brief shower midday on Saturday as the front passes, but the overall feel to the air will be much drier by late in the day. Sunday morning’s lows in eastern Texas will dip into the 60s for the first time in months, and this cooler air mass will follow our fans back home to greet North-Central Floridians on Monday and Tuesday.
Tropical Depression 18 became Tropical Storm Sandy late Monday afternoon and was located approximately 900 miles south of Miami, Florida. The upper-level environment is conducive for strengthening and water temperatures are still plenty warm, leading to higher than normal confidence that Sandy will strengthen over the next 48 hours. Some of the model guidance even suggests Sandy could strengthen rapidly at times before nearing Jamaica on Wednesday. Hurricane hunter aircraft is scheduled to fly into the storm this evening and the data can be viewed live on WRUF-TV6.
Tropical Storm Sandy is forecast to move to the north or north-northeast after development, likely crossing or moving in between the islands of Jamaica, Cuba, and Hispaniola mid-week. The official forecast from the National Hurricane Center is for [Sandy] to be a strong tropical storm or possibly a weak hurricane as it nears the island of Jamaica late on Wednesday. High pressure is expected to briefly build over the storm and possibly cause it slow as it approaches the Bahamas later in the week. Thereafter, forecast confidence is severely lacking due to the different model solutions on how strong a trough of low pressure and cold front will be over the U.S. mid-section. The track and strength of [Sandy] prior to the point when this trough begins to affect the storm will play a big role in determining the eventual track and potential influences on the state of Florida.
HISTORY OF STORMS RELATED TO SANDY
It may not feel very tropical anymore in Florida, but that doesn’t mean we can’t see tropical weather. The 2012 Hurricane Season doesn’t officially end until November 31st, but history tells us that late-season storms can and have hit the state. This is especially true when they form in the Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico.
We looked at the history of storms hitting Florida during the period of October 20 – November 10 since 1900 and found that the majority of tracks came out of the Caribbean or the Gulf rather than from the Atlantic. Of the 14 storms plotted, four originated in the Gulf and six formed in the western Caribbean. The latter location is very close to where our next Tropical Storm is likely to form. Gladys was the most-recent hurricane to cross the state from the Caribbean during this 20-day period, making landfall on the Nature Coast south of Cedar Key in 1968. Tropical Storm Gordon, however, may be fresher in Floridian’s minds, following a very erratic path and making landfall twice in 1994.
THE BOTTOM LINE
While it may be too early to talk specifics on soon-to-be Sandy, it’s never too early for Floridians to prepare for a potential landfall of a tropical cyclone. To that end, it’s also never too late in the season to come up with a plan and stock up on supplies. Tropical Updates are always available on WRUF-TV6 at 20 minutes past the hour. We’re also on the radio, delivering a complete tropical update every day at 4:50pm on Florida’s 89.1, WUFT-FM. Follow @gatorweather on Twitter for breaking weather information any time of day.
In this political season of swaying polls and spirited debates, there’s something more than just partisan pundits spinning out there. This candidate pays no attention to “no-spin” zones and might just play “hard ball” with the swing state of Florida. Welcome to the stage, Tropical Storm Sandy. Who is she up against? The incumbent and persistent trough of low pressure near the U.S. East Coast.
The Incumbent’s Record
Nearly all of the tropical cyclones that have formed since September 1st have been steered clear of the U.S., mostly due to the increased wind shear that accompanied this quasi-permanent dip in the jet stream. In recent days, however, the upper-level winds have shifted to the north, making parts of the mainland vulnerable to a land-falling system should one form close to home. Tropical Storm Sandy formed in the Western Caribbean late on Monday and is quickly strengthening, likely to become a hurricane within the next 48 hours.
History tells us that storms forming in this part of the world during this time of year are most-likely to move in a north or northeastward direction. In fact, nearly all of the Sandy analogs moved near or just east of the State of Florida. Six crossed the peninsula, and four of the remaining six moved over the Bahamas. This fact alone, though, does not give Sandy a mandate to run on. Instead, we have to look at the challenger’s plan, or most-likely path.
The Challenger’s Path
Sandy will be looking for a weakness in the opponent’s shield to gain some ground pole-ward. This shield is a large ridge of high pressure that is currently parked over the Mid-Atlantic States, extending down into parts of Florida. Until this is booted, Sandy will likely remain stationary or only slowly drift north. A jab at the ridge is expected to be delivered by an approaching cold front Wednesday. When this happens, Sandy will likely accelerate northward and cross the islands of Jamaica and Cuba, nearing The Bahamas by week’s end.
When Sandy emerges back over the water from Cuba, the conflict between her and a reinforcing East Coast trough will escalate the competition. The question is, will the new frontal system be strong enough to push Sandy out to sea? Or rather, will Sandy be stronger and able to move right up the East Coast largely unimpeded? If the latter scenario plays out, Florida’s Atlantic Coast could be more directly impacted with tropical storm conditions.
We are at least five days removed from any significant influences of Tropical Storm Sandy on our state’s beaches or nation’s coastline. Recent data suggests Sandy will struggle to maintain strength over The Bahamas and likely be steered out to sea by a new cold front and trough of lower pressure. Even though chances for direct impacts from Sandy in North-Central Florida are low, we could say they are still within the “margin of error” given our known limitations of long-range forecasting of tropical cyclones.
Do Your Own Fact-Checking
Here’s how to stay informed of the very latest on Tropical Storm Sandy:
- Visit our Tracking the Tropics page for up-to-date storm info.
- Follow @GatorWeather on Twitter for breaking weather alerts.
- Watch WRUF-TV6 for your complete Tropical Weather Update at 20 past the hour.
Latest Tropical Update Video
Sandy is barely still at hurricane strength, but the storm has nearly doubled in size. Tropical Storm force winds now extend over 275 miles from the center. Sandy is unraveling a bit, thanks to an upper-level area of lower pressure creating some wind shear on the southwest side. The is evident on the satellite and radar representation, as most of Sandy’s thunderstorm activity is now displaced from the center of circulation to the north and northeast. As of Friday evening, those rain bands were rotating around the center of circulation and starting to approach Florida’s First Coast. As this process continues, Sandy will gradually become a hybrid storm later tonight, taking on both tropical and non-tropical characteristics. The hurricane has slowed in forward speed to less than 10 mph and has now turned more to the northeast. This means Sandy will now start moving further away from North-Central Florida.…Scroll down for all videos related to this story…
Tropical Storm Warnings are continue for coastal waters from the Florida-Georgia border to Daytona Beach. Inland Lake Wind Advisories have been extended until 7pm Saturday.
Sandy is transitioning to a hybrid storm tonight, meaning that the rain and wind fields will likely continue to expand northward and northwestward. Even though Sandy’s center will likely stay well off-shore, the east coast of Florida will still sustain significant impacts. Rainfall along the coast could top 2-3″ south of Melbourne, and tropical-storm force wind gusts are possible anywhere along the coast Friday and Saturday. Inland, rain impacts will likely be minimal, but windy conditions should be expected through Saturday evening. Sandy should be pulled by an upper-level trough to the northeast sometime on Saturday, at which time conditions will be quickly improving both along the coast and for inland North-Central Florida.
Recent model trends suggest that Sandy, likely a strong subtropical storm off the Mid-Atlantic states by Saturday, will also be pulled northwestward into New England on Sunday and Monday. The potential impacts from a landfalling storm of this magnitude, at this time of year, are significant. We will be posting more on this in future updates, especially as the situation becomes more clear.
LATEST VIDEOSPotential Impacts from Sandy in N-Central Florida
TRACK WITH US
Use the following resources to track the storm with us. Whether you’re watching TV, listening on the radio, pulling us up on-line, or on the go with your phone – WRUF weather is always tracking the tropics.
Spring is right around the corner, and it won’t be long until we will hear the sound of thunder nearly every day. It’s the time of year when Floridians are eager to spend more time in the sun and enjoy the numerous attractions that make this state famous. It’s also the time of year when our typically calm winter pattern turns unsettled and hazardous. This week is designated by our State’s Division of Emergency Management to educate Floridians on the various hazards that frequently impact the state and how families or businesses can prepare for these natural events. WRUF Weather will also use it as a week to prepare for an outbreak of severe weather that could impact our operations at the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communication and the lives of our audience. We will focus on a different potential hazard each day and share how you can avoid the danger altogether or take steps to mitigate its impact on your life or property.
More people are killed by lightning in Florida than any other state. Within the last 50 years, there have been over 450 lightning related fatalities in The Sunshine State, more than twice the number that have occurred in the second state on the list – Texas.
Very few people can ride out an entire Florida Summer without getting caught in at least one thunderstorm. Most of us actually become so accustomed to the sound of thunder and frequent flashes of lightning that we begin to overlook the lethal dangers they present.
Lightning strikes the United States approximately 25 million times a year. While it may be true your odds at getting struck are less than winning the lottery, you can lower your chances even more by playing it safe when a storm hits. There is NO gauranteed safe place outdoors during a thunderstorm. Always consider moving inside at the first sound of thunder. Also, remember to stay away from windows and off land-line phones.
An open area is the LAST place you want to be in a thunderstorm. But in the event you are caught unexpectedly, from a personal experience here’s how you know you’re in danger. Your hair will stand straight on end, not only on your arms and neck, but also on your head, and this is also accompanied by a tingling sensation. When this occurs, you’ve become a positively charged streamer and need to either run quickly to shelter, or crouch down on the balls of your feet, making as little contact with the ground as possible.
Of all the weather hazards we track at WRUF, lightning is THE MOST unpredictable phenomenon. Staying informed and aware of the risks are crucial to staying out of harm’s way. Before you head out on a stormy day, check Storm Track Doppler on WRUF-TV or online for LIVE lightning tracking.
The average speed inside a rip current is 1 to 2 feet per second, which is faster than it may sound. Speeds of up to 8 feet per second have been recorded, which is faster than Olympic Gold Medalist and former UF Swimmer Ryan Lochte can swim!
Rip currents are most threatening when the tide is high and seas are rough. Always look for the red flag warning once getting to the beach, as this indicates high surf and potentially strong currents.
It’s important to remember that rip currents don’t pull you under; they drag you away from shore. Rip currents move swiftly out to sea, so to escape a rip current, stay calm and swim parallel to the shoreline.
Meteorologist Jeff Huffman is attending and reporting from the 2014 National Hurricane Conference in Orlando, Florida this week. Follow along as he gathers and shares valuable information related to the upcoming season. Feel free to ask him questions and he’ll answer them as time allows.
Every year, we hear the forecast. Multiple forecasts, in fact. So many numbers. So many messages. But officials say there’s really only one thing to remember: “It only takes one”.
NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) released their forecast for the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season today, predicting a “near-normal or below-normal” year. This follows other private forecaster’s outlooks for below-normal activity earlier in the spring. The likely development of El Niño this summer is the main driver of this year’s forecast, which typically correlates to fewer and weaker storms in the Atlantic Basin.
Officials and emergency managers in the State of Florida warn residents, however, that a seasonal forecast can be misleading.
“Overall seasonal activity does not correlate to landfall impacts. Even in below average years, people die.”
In his address at the annual Governor’s Hurricane Conference last week, National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Rick Knabb pointed out that even in last year’s relatively weak season, there were dozens of fatalities and multiple landfalls in the country of Mexico. He referenced many seasons where the overall number of storms were not related to the impacts of landfalling systems, most explicitly in 1992 and 1983. Andrew and Alicia were the only major hurricanes in those years, yet they caused catastrophic damage in south Florida and southeast Texas. Conversely, 2010 was an extremely active season in the Tropical Atlantic when 12 hurricanes formed, 5 of them major, yet none hit the United States directly.
Knabb went on to point out that Floridians are at risk every year from multiple hazards of tropical storms and hurricanes in the state of Florida. “No matter where it is you live, no matter what the seasonal forecasts say, no matter what last year was like or what the last ten years have been like, no matter how long you’ve lived here; you could experience wind or water hazards that could be life threatening this year.”
The Director of FEMA, Craig Fugate, is no stranger to hurricanes and the impact they can have on Florida. He was the state’s acting emergency management director during the infamous 2004 season, also a year when El Nino conditions were expected to develop. Florida was dealt significant impacts from four hurricanes that year, three crossing the state as a Category 3 or higher, or Major Hurricane. He echoes the same message.
“If you go back in history, there’s been no part of Florida’s coast that has not been hit by hurricanes. There’s no part of the state that’s more than 100 miles from the coast. Seasonal forecasts don’t mean anything. If you live in Florida, you better know what to do.”
New technology could make it easier for residents to understand the hazards an approaching storm could pose this year, especially if they are near a coastline but not necessarily right along the coast. A new Storm Surge Inundation map will be released by The National Hurricane Center in advance of every storm. GIS tools make this map especially useful, as it will better depict which neighborhoods, some miles from the coast, that could be flooded by a storm surge and how high the water could rise above ground level for that particular location.
But even with the new tools and a forecast for a relatively “mild” season, many Floridians are likely complacent. The last time a hurricane hit the state, YouTube and Facebook were just a year old and Twitter didn’t even exist. For a state that averages one landfall every other year yet hasn’t seen one since 2005, probabilities suggest Florida is now overdue.
Brian Koon, Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, says the risk to Floridians has not changed. “We’re going to get hurricanes in the future. It’s imperative that Floridians take hurricane season seriously and prepare accordingly.”
The message from officials this year is clear. Updated forecasts and new technology won’t keep Floridians safe. It’s up to the citizens to act, get a plan, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Fugate ended his comments with this suggestion:
“If you have a plan and you know what you’re doing, enjoy the summer.”
The last time Gainesville set a record low temperature on August 28th is back in 1891. But, thanks to abnormally dry air and high pressure over the Southeastern United States, that record may be in jeopardy. Tonight’s low temperature for Gainesville, 64, is a full 7 degrees below average, and only 1 degree above the record low set in the 19th century. Other areas in North Central Florida may even go lower than that.
One More Comfortable Afternoon
The past few days of near perfect weather are coming to a close. Thursday will be the last day to enjoy the drier air, lower humidity, and average temperatures. On Friday, high pressure will move off the Atlantic Coast and help to draw deeper tropical moisture into the area. Friday is a transition day where the sea breezes may collide during the afternoon near I-75, bringing storms during the evening drive. On Saturday, deep moisture will already be in place and showers and thunderstorms will likely flare up during the early afternoon and be more widespread. Rain chances will remain elevated through the end of the weekend and the start of next week.
Relief from the heat of the past few days will come in the form of quick moving showers and storms throughout Monday. There will be several rounds of showers moving in off the Atlantic starting in the late morning through the evening hours. This will help keep temperatures capped in the 80′s and allow for lower heat indices, compared to the past four days of feeling like 100°+.
Drier air moves in due to Tropical Storm Cristobal remaining well to the east of the United States. Cristobal will drag in drier air for the middle of the week, bringing lower rain chances and warmer temperatures. A typical summer pattern returns Friday into the weekend with increased humidity and shower and thunderstorm activity.
As the remnants of what was once Hurricane Bertha moves away and weak high pressure settles in, we’re in for a below average day in all areas except temperatures. In the summer months we can usually count on an afternoon thunderstorm to provide some relief from the unbearable heat and humidity. For today however, dry air has taken hold. Dew points will drop into the mid 60′s and high temperatures this afternoon will reach the low to mid 90′s. That’s a recipe for a much more comfortable day. There is a low chance for a spotty afternoon thunderstorm between 1pm and 5pm, but overall a much more dry day is ahead for North Central Florida.
A weak cold front will gradually move through North Florida on Tuesday and bring drier, less humid air with it. Ahead of it, showers and storms will push through the area in the early afternoon hours. Most of the rain will end in the early afternoon hours in Gainesville, with lingering activity possible in Marion, Putnam and Flagler counties.
Temperatures today will still be in the low 90′s ahead of the frontal passage with heat indices near or at 100°, but Tuesday will not be as hot as Monday. Slightly drier and less humid air will begin to filter into the region Tuesday evening and the dew point (which determines how muggy it feels outside) will drop.
The Muggy Meter tracks the dew points, which have been above 70° over the past couple of days, making it feel muggy and hot. Even with a slight dip in the dew points, it will feel less humid outdoors for summer standards in Florida. This will be a brief break from the humidity, however, as southwesterly flow returns for Friday through the weekend and marks the return of humid air and rain chances.
A cold front moving through the southeast will bring stormy weather to North Florida Monday night, but ahead of it things are heating up. Low coverage to the showers and storms across most of North Florida and high humidity will lead to heat index values above 100°. Heat advisories are in effect for counties along I-10 and I-95 for heat indices from 108 to 112°. An advisory is not in effect for Alachua County, but head indices could hold above 100 for several hours as well as reach as high as 106°. Take precautions when outdoors today by staying hydrated, wear light colored clothing and take frequent breaks.
Showers and storms will be concentrated mainly north of I-10 today, where some strong storms will be possible associated with the front. There is a slight chance for a brief shower or storm to move Gainesville and Ocala this afternoon, but rain chances increase tonight as the front begins to push through the peninsula. Rain chances will end by mid-afternoon on Tuesday after the front passes and dry air quickly moves in.
The slightly drier and less humid air will filter in on Tuesday evening and remain overhead for the middle of the work week. Rain chances will remain during this time before southwesterly flow re-establishes and a typical summer pattern will develop for the end of the week and the weekend.
Dry air and a ridge of high pressure will keep most areas dry on Sunday, with a few quick downpours possible in the early afternoon. However, with the loss of the rain comes a gain in heat. Heat indices today will surpass 100 and climb as high as 108 in some locations in North Florida. The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for all locations north of I-10. While this excludes Alachua and Marion counties, residents there are still urged to take appropriate cautions to protect themselves from the heat. Drink plenty of water, give yourself plenty of beaks in the shade and wear light-colored, loose fitting clothing.
Strong west to southwest flow remains in control Saturday, as North Central Florida is sandwiched between a ridge of high pressure to the south and a lingering, but fading, frontal boundary to the north.
For Saturday there will be isolated storms moving through Alachua and Marion counties from west to east; however, most areas in these counties will dry off by 4pm. You can leave the umbrellas at home if you’re going to be headed out for Saturday evening.
Sunday and into Monday, a pocket of dry air moves in over North Florida. This significantly reduces rain chances, with just a spotty shower possible Sunday, and almost no rain Monday. Enjoy (and stay cool) because a strong cold front is poised to bring some stormy weather Tuesday, with storm chances returning to their typical values by the end of the week.
We’ve “enjoyed” three days of dry, sunny weather here in North Florida. I say enjoyed with the quotes because although we haven’t seen much rainfall, the lack of rain has brought us a few days with heat indices near or at above 100 degrees in many locations. Many North Floridians hoped for at least a quick shower to bring some relief from the oppressive afternoon heat.
Those who were hoping for some rain may get there wish granted by Mother nature today. Southwesterly flow will push some storms through the area in the late morning early afternoon hours. Alachua, Colombia and Marion counties could see a possible downpour from 11am until about 4pm this afternoon. Some storms could be strong, with frequent lightning, heavy rain, and some small hail possible. It should be dry by the time of the evening commute, and dry as well if you’re going to be headed out for your Friday night.
Rain chances go down for the western and central counties through the weekend as ridging builds in the gulf. On Saturday, we may have a quick storm here in Alachua county from 11am to about 2pm. After that you’ll see plenty of sunshine, but you’ll also notice the heat. The ridging will provide plenty of fuel for the gulf sea breeze, so heavy and more widespread storms will be possible on the Atlantic coast. If you’re thinking of heading to the beach, go to the nature coast.
Most areas stay dry on Sunday, with just a spotty shower possible here and there.
Two disturbances on both sides of the peninsula will help trigger showers and thunderstorms across North Florida today. A few isolated showers could move inland in the early morning hours, but stronger activity begins to develop in the late afternoon hours in Gainesville. Some stronger and more numerous storms will be possible mainly east of I-75 and near the St. Johns River Valley later in the day. The increased cloud cover and coverage of the storms will lead to slightly below average temperatures, capping them in the upper 80s today.
Rain chances remain elevated for Tuesday due to tropical moisture overhead and a stronger Atlantic sea breeze pushing further inland. Rain chances go down slightly midweek and then increase once again for the end of the week as southwesterly flow starts to develop and brings in deeper tropical moisture to help to bring both sea breezes inland each and every afternoon.
An upper level trough approaching North Florida will pull deeper tropical moisture in over our area that will push rain chances up significantly this weekend and into the start of the last week of July.
Ridging over the area will keep most rain chances rather spotty and brief, with the highest chances to the North and West. Some storms could be accompanied by a brief downpour and a few rumbles of thunder, but overall it should shape up to be a typical Floridian summer day, with plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors. It will be hot though, so drink plenty of water if you’re outside. As always, don’t forget you can track any storms that do form live on our interactive radar here on our website.
Deeper moisture moves in as the trough settles right over our area, and an area of low pressure forms to our north. With the increased moisture and more lifting and instability from the trough, coverage of rain and storms will be more widespread, and starting earlier in the day. Gainesville and Alachua county could see a shower or storm as early as 11AM on Sunday, with periods of heavy rainfall lasting through 7PM. Some storms could become strong, with heavy downpours, gusty winds and lightning, but the main threat will be heavy downpours and localized flooding. Monday will be a similar story, with a higher threat of stronger thunderstorms.
The trough lingers Tuesday, with rain chances remaining elevated. However, rain chances will diminish and return to typical late afternoon pop up thunderstorm activity Wednesday through Saturday.