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A rapid chill down and a rapid warm up for southwest Florida

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The strong winter storm affecting the Northeast U.S. and Mid-Atlantic regions today into Friday will enable a large, rather cold, high-pressure system to invade the Sunshine State and its nearby coastal and offshore waters (Fig. 1). The front will bring some scattered showers and thunderstorms with it, but the big weather news will be a full day of wind and cold temperatures across the entire peninsula. Winds over land should gust above 25 miles per hour on Friday (Jan. 3, 2014).

Over the warmer Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean waters, enhanced vertical mixing will allow high-speed winds from five thousand feet to mix down to lower levels. As a result, a gale watch has been posted for areas west of Fort Meyers northward on the west coast and south of Melbourne on the east coast. Gale warnings cover offshore waters further north in the Gulf of Mexico and across many areas offshore from Melbourne northward. Gales occur when sustained winds range between 39 mph and 54 mph.

Look for some significant waves along west-facing beaches tomorrow. This will start the process of removing sand from recent beach replenishment activities in Collier County. It will also allow for the formation of dangerous rip currents.

Cloudy skies in the southern part of the state on Friday will limit solar heating. This will keep the mercury hovering near 60 degrees the entire day. That’s close to the average LOW temperature reading at this time of year. It will also be some 20 to 25 degrees colder than the temperature will be today.

The good news is that such chilly intrusions don’t last long when the land mass is surrounded by warmer waters. Hence, by Saturday, the mercury should rebound to near normal readings in the mid and upper 70’s.

Another cold front will be arriving by Monday, with its attendant gusty winds and chillier temperatures.

Still, no matter how bad it may appear to be here in southwest Florida, the weather in Collier and Lee counties trumps just about anything further north. One may complain about temperatures remaining in the low 60’s. However, Minneapolis, MN will have lots of sub-zero readings during the upcoming week, with wind chills in the minus 20 to minus 30 range. This morning, International Falls, MN reported a low of minus 42 degrees. Of course, there are always the blizzard conditions (cold, wind and snow) that will be lashing Long Island and coastal New England later today and tomorrow.

© 2013 H. Michael Mogil

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