Florida's soaking continues; 5th warmest April for the globe

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:51 PM GMT on May 20, 2009

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The large extratropical storm that has been drenching Florida over the past few days continues to pour rain on the state as it treks slowly westward over the Gulf of Mexico. Rainfall amounts as high as 13.3 inches have been measured in Northern Florida in Flagler County over the past three days, with another 2 - 4 inches expected from the storm. The storm is bringing beach erosion, 7 - 10 foot waves, and tides 2 - 3 feet above normal to the Northeast Florida coast, along with damaging thunderstorm winds. While the storm's center is located just offshore Southwest Florida, a large band of precipitation arcs to the north and east, extending over northern Florida. This type of structure is typical of subtropical storms, though the storm does not have enough heavy thunderstorm activity or warm core air to qualify as a subtropical storm. The storm is under about 30 knots of wind shear, and shows no signs of developing more tropical characteristics. The computer models generally predict the storm should weaken this week as it moves towards Louisiana or Texas. As the center moves farther north over the next few days, it will be moving into a region of lower wind shear, and I still give the storm a 20% chance of becoming a subtropical depression 2 - 7 days from now.


Figure 1. Latest satellite image of the Gulf of Mexico storm.

Fifth warmest April on record
The globe recorded its 5th warmest April on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center. The period January - April was tied for the sixth warmest such period on record. April marked the first time since October 2008 that the planet has recorded a monthly temperature anomaly in the top five warmest months. The warming may be due to the fact that a La Niña event ended in the Eastern Pacific in April. Global temperature records go back to 1880.

A cool, wet April for the U.S.
For the contiguous U.S., April temperatures were the 36th coolest in the 115-year record, according to the National Climatic Data Center. The month was also quite wet, ranking as the 35th wettest April. The warmest state was New Hampshire, which recorded its 8th warmest April. The coldest state was South Dakota, which wad its 25th coldest April. Through April, U.S. tornado activity was very close to the mean observed during the past five years, according to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center. However, there were just 15 tornado deaths through April, compared to 70 deaths through April of 2008, and the 3-year average of 60 deaths.

On May 12, 2009, 17% of the contiguous United States was in moderate-to-exceptional drought. This is a drop from the 19% figure observed at the beginning of the year. However, The amount of the U.S. in the highest levels of drought, extreme to exceptional, had increased from 1.2% at the beginning of the year to 2.6% by May 12. These extreme drought regions were in South Texas and South Florida.

La Niña officially over
The La Niña event of September 2008 - March 2009 is officially over, according to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. They define La Niña conditions as occurring when the 1-month mean temperature anomaly in the equatorial Eastern Pacific (the area 5°N - 5°S, 120°W - 170°W, also called the "Niña 3.4 region") cools below -0.5°C and is expected to persist for three consecutive months. Temperatures warmed significantly in the Equatorial Eastern Pacific during April, and are now near average in the Niña 3.4 region. Most of the model forecasts for the Niño 3.4 region predict neutral conditions for the August - October peak of hurricane season. Three out of 16 El Niño models are predicting an El Niño event for hurricane season. Columbia University's International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) is predicting a 30% chance of an El Niño event during the coming hurricane season. The number of Atlantic hurricanes is typically reduced in an El Niño year, due to increased wind shear from strong high-level winds.

Sea ice in the Arctic below average, but not greatly so
April 2009 Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent was the 10th lowest since 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The record April low was set in 2007. The rate of ice decline in April was the third slowest on record, thanks to cooler than usual temperatures over the Arctic. Nevertheless, the Arctic remains vulnerable to near-record melting this summer if much warmer than average temperatures return to the region. Strong winter winds pushed a considerable amount of multi-year-old ice out of the Arctic this year, leaving the Arctic with the lowest amount of old sea ice on record in March. The amount of ice more than two years old fell below 10% for the first time since satellites began observing the ice in 1979.

Jeff Masters

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Nice radar pic there IKE
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Greetings! The gulf seems to be a hot topic already
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Good morning all! I too I'm pretty spektical about the whole system myself, especially taking into account that it is 9 days out. However, I'm even more skeptical about how the GFS appears to form it over the Yucatan Peninsula, how is that so, bloggers?
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anyone see the magnified visiable of the se gulf? beginning of a td?
71. IKE
There's the COC, west of SW FL....

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


Noticed SSD moved floater 1 over the gulf, still labled 90L. If the track is towards LA/MS, then we should get a couple of normal recon flights that go out, they were out there yesterday (off the gulf coast).



I saw a CG plane at about 5000ft headed south along the coast,I live on siesta key in fl...
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the indian river lagoon is up almost a foot the past wk. the steady rain plus east winds blowing the ocean waters in = noticable change.
Quoting smmcdavid:
Can't stay to chat... just wanted to drop in and say hi to all my fellow weather nerds! Don't try to deny it, it's really okay.

Not ready for the season. Ugh.

Thanks Dr. Masters for all you do.


Hmm, too busy for us, that's a bummer! Good to see you stranger! I'm trying to send this low your way so I can have a dry Memorial Day weekend LOL!
Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 3074
Quoting IKE:


That's not good...more flooding. "Subtropical low"....reads like a possibility of it being 91L in the future.


Noticed SSD moved floater 1 over the gulf, still labled 90L. If the track is towards LA/MS, then we should get a couple of normal recon flights that go out, they were out there yesterday (off the gulf coast).
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 11262
Quoting SomeRandomTexan:


oh ok :)


Just noticing the GFS might be on to something. And that is some hard info to back it up a bit.
Quoting TheCaneWhisperer:


I realize that, look at the end of the run and look where it comes from.


oh ok :)
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For those that are interested, the Lake Okeechobee levels are always posted one (1) day behind the measurement day. So a listing of 10.6 feet posted with today's date actually reflects yesterday's level.

To see the current readings, you can go to the www.SFWMD.gov website and click Water Conditions, then select the Real Time Data tab, and select Lake O. You'll see several reporting locations and the stage (depth) for each. If you click on the arrow icon to the left, you'll get much more data.

[And, if I remember the levels correctly from earlier this morning, it looks like the water level has gone DOWN in the last few hours. Hmmm.... What are they doing out there?]
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Can't stay to chat... just wanted to drop in and say hi to all my fellow weather nerds! Don't try to deny it, it's really okay.

Not ready for the season. Ugh.

Thanks Dr. Masters for all you do.
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Morning all, I see we are still watching the Gulf low...
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60. IKE
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
PRELIMINARY EXTENDED FORECAST DISCUSSION


WHILE OP MODELS AND VARIOUS GUIDANCE CONT TO HAVE DIFFICULTIES IDENTIFYING OR AGREEING UPON WHERE THE SFC CENTER OR CENTERS OF LOW PRESSURE IS IN THE SHORT RANGE NEAR FLORIDA OR SOUTHEASTWARD NEARLY ALL AGREE UPON A STARTING POINT FOR MEDIUM RANGE NEAR THE MS DELTA BY DAY3 SAT. MOST PHASED DIAGRAMING INDICATES THIS TO BE A HYBRID/SUBTROPICAL LOW BY DAYS 3-4 WITH PLENTY OF AVAILABLE MOSITURE...PWS IN TE 2 INCH RANGE AND SLOW MOVEMENT WHICH WILL BRING HVY RAINS TO THE LA/MS COAST AND DELTA AND UP THE LOWER AND CENTRAL MS VALLEY THIS PERIOD.


That's not good...more flooding. "Subtropical low"....reads like a possibility of it being 91L in the future.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Well it looks like our "91L" died overnight. The low has very little convection. I think there is just too much dry air in the gulf right now. The waters are very cool. But, are these conditions expected to change?
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Quoting TheCaneWhisperer:



Interesting Taz, the eastward movement. GFS is picking up on this and tracking it across SFL.


thats the epac low
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PRELIMINARY EXTENDED FORECAST DISCUSSION


WHILE OP MODELS AND VARIOUS GUIDANCE CONT TO HAVE DIFFICULTIES IDENTIFYING OR AGREEING UPON WHERE THE SFC CENTER OR CENTERS OF LOW PRESSURE IS IN THE SHORT RANGE NEAR FLORIDA OR SOUTHEASTWARD NEARLY ALL AGREE UPON A STARTING POINT FOR MEDIUM RANGE NEAR THE MS DELTA BY DAY3 SAT. MOST PHASED DIAGRAMING INDICATES THIS TO BE A HYBRID/SUBTROPICAL LOW BY DAYS 3-4 WITH PLENTY OF AVAILABLE MOSITURE...PWS IN TE 2 INCH RANGE AND SLOW MOVEMENT WHICH WILL BRING HVY RAINS TO THE LA/MS COAST AND DELTA AND UP THE LOWER AND CENTRAL MS VALLEY THIS PERIOD.
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 11262
hello all!!!
WOW! I feel for you guys in FL.. look like the LLC has finally gotten in to the GOM... One of the local mets over in SWLA said this is nothing to worry about... not even really a rain maker... I don't know if i believe him
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Quoting Tazmanian:





TROPICAL WEATHER DISCUSSION
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
1005 UTC WED MAY 20 2009

TROPICAL WEATHER DISCUSSION FOR THE EASTERN PACIFIC OCEAN FROM
THE EQUATOR TO 32N...EAST OF 140W.





A WELL DEFINED 1008 MB LOW WAS ALONG THE ITCZ AT 11N120W WITH
TROUGHING EXTENDING NNE AND SSW. THIS LOW HAS BECOME STATIONARY
AND MAY BEGIN TO DRIFT TO THE E AND NE NEXT 24 HOURS...AND
GRADUALLY WEAKEN. CHANCES FOR TROPICAL DEVELOPMENT ARE
CONSIDERED LOW. FURTHER TO THE E...ALONG THE ITCZ BETWEEN 102W
AND 105W...A LARGE CLUSTER OF DEEP CONVECTION HAS DEVELOPED
TONIGHT...WITH LOW TO MID LEVEL CYCLONIC TURNING NOTED IN IR
SATELLITE IMAGERY. WLY WIND SHEAR ALOFT IS LIGHT AND HAS
DIMINISHED IN THE PAST 24 HOURS. SHARP TROUGHING AT THE SURFACE
HAS RECENTLY BEEN SUGGESTED BY SCATTEROMETER PASSES. THIS BROAD
CIRCULATION IS FORECAST BY GLOBAL MODELS TO MOVE SLOWLY W INTO
THE WEAKEN AND GRADUALLY BECOME BETTER ORGANIZED.
..BEFORE
BEGINNING TO LIFT NE AND E LATE SUN INTO EARLY NEXT WEEK. THERE
IS SOME POTENTIAL FOR TROPICAL DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SYSTEM IN
THIS TIME FRAME.










Interesting Taz, the eastward movement. GFS is picking up on this and tracking it across SFL.
Orca

HERE is the May19 Radar Loop. Lake O and North got a good drenching.
Link

Lake O levels
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This was from last night, notice the heavy dump in the NW Corner.

opps wrong one.
Quoting Patrap:
Crawfish Burl?..

I thought I heard right.

SO what time ?..LOL


Mmmmm...had burled crawfish last night....and corn, and potatoes...and beer! And the company paid for it! Not liking that last map you posted! lol
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This low provided just enough energy and the warm moist air needed to create severe storms when it collided with the cold air to the North of the cold front. I hope the worst of the storms are over and this just continues to be a rain event for the areas that need it.
Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 3074
49. IKE
Quoting sporteguy03:
Link

For a "nothing" storm caused quite a bit of damage and a sleepless night for my chief meteorologist watching the radar for "hook" echos.


Maybe that will stop the downplaying.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting TheCaneWhisperer:


Yes. Lake areas northward didn't really get any heavy rains until yesterday and last night. Those should show up in tomorrow's readings as runoff comes in from the north.
Any rains south don't really benefit the lake.


I keep forgetting that Florida is relatively flat. Up north, when we get rain, the first things to fill is the rivers and lakes, and they continue to fill even after the rain has stopped.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
From Dr. Masters Blog yesterday. Notice Lake O northward was rather dry.

Quoting Orcasystems:


that doesn't seem like much of an increase with all of that rain? Wasn't it 10.5 something two days ago?


Yes. Lake areas northward didn't really get any heavy rains until yesterday and last night. Those should show up in tomorrow's readings as runoff comes in from the north.
Any rains south don't really benefit the lake.
funny last night it looked to be in the gom and now just on the w coast of fla.
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Sorry about that was trying to link it. Great site to see wind field.
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Thanks Dr. Masters,interesting stats. GM all,too bad SFLA cant get into more of the rain.
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Link

For a "nothing" storm caused quite a bit of damage and a sleepless night for my chief meteorologist watching the radar for "hook" echos.
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http://www.iwindsurf.com/windandwhere.iws?regionID=171®ionProductID=3&timeoffset=0
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Orca, it takes time for the rain to flow into the lake.
Member Since: June 9, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 3685
Quoting TheCaneWhisperer:

Lake Okeechobee water level as of May 20, 2009

10.60 ft.

Not much now but, hopefully north river runoff will start picking things up a bit more.


that doesn't seem like much of an increase with all of that rain? Wasn't it 10.5 something two days ago?
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
*perk* crawfish BURL?? Where? LOL!..I LOVE crawfish burls!! ROFL!
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Jax Pier in FLa. reported to be damaged from Wind and waves.



Jax Pier Webcam
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Lake Okeechobee water level as of May 20, 2009

10.60 ft.

Not much now but, hopefully north river runoff will start picking things up a bit more.
Quoting leftovers:
i might be fully bearded by then


ROFL!! yeah maybe......
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Crawfish Burl?..

I thought I heard right.

SO what time ?..LOL
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What is that "blob" East of Jamaica ?
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24. 69Viking 9:15 AM EDT on May 20, 2009

Good Call....The cold front and this storm have really cooled things off a bit in the NE Gulf region, and, the dry/cool air keeps wrapping into the system....This thing will not go sub-tropical, or even close to tropical, anytime in the foreseeable future...It will probalby die a slow death (and cause some major beach erosion in the process)..
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Pat
Having an outdoor family reunion crawfish boil on Saturday for 75 - Guess I need to have indoor options after looking at your post!
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I agree 69Viking
Hey, kmanislander. If I remember correctly, you work with the power grid.
So what do you know about the Caymans going nuclear?
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Quoting Joanie38:
hmmmm still wondering about that low...I'm in SWLA...people here are watching it as well....
i might be fully bearded by then
The one "positive" I can see from this
is that it is taking out "heat"
(...or lessening heat build up)
from the water's here North of Haiti,
which is GOOD, imho
CRS

[edit] I was typing this, and had not read #24 ...same thing, let's all cool the waters as much as we can).
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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