We learned this week that winter isn’t over. Neither are the influences from a near-record El Niño. In their monthly discussion, NOAA said Thursday that the El Niño “will likely weaken and transition to a neutral phase by late spring or early summer”. The damage, per se, has been done. Record rains and eight tornadoes hit south Florida over a span of two weeks in January. This was followed by a cold snap that sent temperatures below freezing multiple mornings in a row in north Florida.
The next two weeks, however, are likely to be relatively calm and comfortable. The official forecast from the Climate Prediction Center for the period February 19-25 is for near or slightly above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation. This is welcome news for all Floridians, whether you were drenched last month or have shivered so far this month.
Even though the waters are now cooling across the Pacific, the atmospheric response to the recent warm anomaly will continue to play out in the coming months. Long range forecast data suggests a period of active weather may be returning again by the end of February or early March. The typical effects in Florida from an El Niño are above normal rainfall, cooler than normal temperatures, and a continued heightened risk for severe weather. The Florida Public Radio Emergency Network will continue to monitor the latest trends and provide your local public radio station with updates on any potential weather hazards.