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September 2016 Newsletter   

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Dear Florida Climate Center friends,
We'd like to present you with the September 2016 edition of our newsletter. In this newsletter, you'll find our August 2016 monthly climate summary, information about Hurricane Hermine, facts about the recently ended climatological summer in Florida, news about activities in which our staff have participated, and more.  If you have any questions, please send us an e-mail message at climate@coaps.fsu.edu.



The Staff of the Florida Climate Center


David Zierden
State Climatologist
Danny Brouillette
Service Climatologist
Dr. James O'Brien
Professor Emeritus
August Climate Summary for Florida 
The Florida Climate Center's August 2016 Florida Climate Summary is now available.  The summary provides an analysis of temperature and precipitation patterns during the past month across the state, along with data on hazardous weather, drought, the impacts of the weather, and any records tied or broken for the month.  During August, statewide temperatures were much above normal (more later in newsletter), but the positive anomalies tended to be smaller in magnitude than in July.  Rainfall was above normal in many areas, with the eastern coast from Jacksonville to the middle of the peninsula continuing to register below-normal rainfall. With ENSO-neutral conditions in place currently, sea-surface temperatures continued to be near to somewhat below normal in the equatorial Pacific. The Climate Prediction Center (CPC) predicts above-normal temperatures and above-normal then below-normal rainfall for the state through October 2016.  
The following table gives August average temperatures and departures from normal (˚F) for selected cities. 
Average Temperature 
Departure from Normal 
Key West
The following table gives August precipitation totals and departures from normal (inches) for selected cities.
Total Rainfall
Departure from Normal
Key West 
The following schematic maps August precipitation departures from normal across Florida.  Image courtesy of the Midwestern Regional Climate Center's cli-MATE application.  
State Climatologist Joins in NOAA's Monthly Climate Media Briefing
State Climatologist David Zierden was invited to join NOAA scientists on the  monthly climate media briefing teleconference on September 15th.  Jake Crouch with NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information presented on national temperature and rainfall trends for August and the summer season (June through August).  Mr. Zierden followed with a summary of hurricane Hermine impacts, details of record and near-record heat across the state, and isolated dryness along the northeast Florida coast.  Matthew Rosencrans of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center followed with forecast of the state of the Pacific Ocean and seasonal temperature, precipitation, and drought outlooks. 
Hurricane Hermine Makes Landfall on Apalachee Bay Coast

Visible satellite imagery of Hermine just before strengthening to hurricane strength. Courtesy: NASA 
At around 1:30 AM EDT on the second day of September, Hurricane Hermine made landfall near Saint Marks in Wakulla County in the Big Bend region.  Hermine was the first hurricane to make landfall on Florida since Hurricane Wilma made landfall  near Cape Romano, Collier County, on 24 October 2005.  The streak of no Florida hurricane landfalls spanned 3966 days and was record-long.  The previous record-long streak was 2271 days between the landfall of Hurricane David near West Palm Beach on 3 September 1979 and the landfall of Hurricane Kate near Mexico Beach, Bay County, on 21 November 1985.  Hermine was also the first hurricane to make landfall on Apalachee Bay coastline since Hurricane Alma made landfall near Alligator Point, Wakulla County, on 9 June 1966. 

Hermine had a protracted history and path before it made landfall.  On 18 August, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center called attention to a tropical wave that had developed about 300 miles southwest of Cape Verde.  After strong wind shear and dry air hindered its development for a few days, a poorly defined circulation was evident by the 23rd, when the wave was just east of Guadalupe in the Caribbean Sea.   The strength and organization of the wave waxed and waned as it then moved across the Caribbean Sea, impacting Puerto Rico and the southern Bahamas, before it gained a well-defined circulation on the 28th.  At that time, located between the Florida Keys and Cuba (which saw rains from outer bands), it was christened as Tropical Depression Nine.  Suffering from considerable westerly wind shear and dry air to its west, the depression had a ragged presentation on satellite imagery as it moved into the Gulf of Mexico.  By the 31st, conditions improved, allowing the storm strengthen into a tropical storm at a position in the eastern Gulf some 400 miles southwest of Apalachicola, Franklin County.  At this time, a mid-level trough was deepening over the southeastern U.S., forcing the acceleration of the storm to the northeast.  Moving over Gulf waters with surface temperatures of around 86 degrees Fahrenheit, Hermine continued to gather strength, sending heavy rainfall and tropical-storm winds to its east, as far east as the western shore of the Florida peninsula, as the calendar turned to September.  Upgraded to Category 1 hurricane strength by early afternoon on the 1st, Hermine continued to strengthen until landfall.  At the time of landfall during the middle of the following night, maximum sustained winds were estimated at 80 miles per hour, and the central pressure was 982 millibars. 

Upon making landfall, Hermine moved relatively quickly over the Panhandle and into south Georgia.   Rainfall was moderately heavy, ranging from 4 to 5 inches in most of the Big Bend and as high as near 9 inches in parts of Lafayette and Dixie Counties.  Flash flooding was not a major impact. 
Rainfall totals from Hermine in the Big Bend region.  Courtesy:  NWS Tallahassee and METOP. 

More significant, however, were wind damage and storm-surge flooding.  Tallahassee, though some 25 miles inland, took a near direct hit.  A wind gust of 64 miles per hour was measured at Doak Campbell Stadium on the Florida State University campus, and the occurrence of stronger gusts cannot be ruled out, especially in eastern Tallahassee. 
Measured peak wind gusts from Hermine.  Courtesy:  NWS Tallahassee.   

These strong winds, combined with heavy-rain-softened sandy soils and a thick tree canopy that had not seen a strong tropical cyclone in many years, felled many trees and snapped many tree limbs.  A consequence of this widespread tree damage was that 80% of City of Tallahassee electric customers were without power, many of them for several days.  In that way, Hermine came just short of Hurricane Kate in 1985 in terms of impact on Tallahassee.  Storm surge caused sea levels to rise 4 to 6 feet in Wakulla County and 8 to 9 feet in Dixie County.  These figures rival the record storm-surge rises associated with the so-called Storm of the Century in March 1993, and reports are that this large storm surge damaged many coastal structures.    
Much Warmer-Than-Normal and Wetter August Finish Third-Warmest Summer in Florida 
August 2016 was much warmer than normal in Florida, finishing sixth warmest on record since 1895, with a mean temperature of 83.0 degrees Fahrenheit.  It was also a wetter month compared to July for much of the state, ranking 36th wettest on record statewide.  Not all areas of the state shared equally in the increased rainfall, as much of the northeastern coast remained dry.  The persistence of the below-normal rainfall along the northeastern coast led to the first-order stations at Jacksonville and Daytona Beach registering their driest summers on record. 
Rankings of total Summer (JJA) 2016 rainfall at select stations in Florida.  Lower-numbered brown-colored rankings indicate lower rainfall totals, and lower-numbered green-colored rankings indicate higher rainfall totals.  Courtesy:  Southeast Regional Climate Center.  

Climatological summer is defined as the period between 1 June and 31 August.  In Florida, Summer 2016 was third warmest on record, with a mean temperature of 82.9 degrees Fahrenheit, and 39th driest on record.  Above-normal temperatures were present across the Lower 48; the greatest anomalies (and highest-numbered rankings, as seen below) were in the far eastern and western states.  
Rankings of Summer (JJA) 2016 statewide average temperature.  Courtesy:  NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information.   
La Niña Looking Less Likely, and ENSO-Neutral Winter Looking More Likely
In its ENSO Diagnostic Discussion released on 7 September, forecasters at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center cancelled the La N iña Watch that had been in place through the summer.  They now slightly favor ENSO-neutral conditions during the ongoing fall and upcoming winter, as shown in the figure below. 
The NOAA Climate Prediction Center's probabilistic ENSO-phase forecasts by three-month period.  Courtesy:  NOAA Climate Prediction Center.  

The CPC forecast for ENSO-neutral conditions is intriguing.  Sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) in the equatorial Pacific Ocean during the summer and spring were generally near to below normal, as shown in the figure just below. 
Anomalies of sea-surface temperature in the equatorial Pacific Ocean as a function of time and longitude.  Courtesy:  NOAA Climate Prediction Center.  

And, most dynamical and statistical model ensemble averages continued, well into August, to suggest a borderline to weak La Niña event by later this fall and this winter: 
Model forecast plumes of sea-surface-temperature anomaly in the Niño 3.4 region.  Courtesy:  NOAA Climate Prediction Center.  

However, in a more detailed report released on 12 September, CPC forecasters did note that the magnitude of negative SST anomalies in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean had decreased during the four weeks before the date of the report.  Also, they noted negative upper-ocean heat content and a non-sloped oceanic thermocline, both considered indicative of ENSO-neutral conditions going forward.

Given the its impact on winter climate in Florida, we will continue to monitor the evolution of ENSO this fall.  

FCC Climatologist Does Exhibit at Tallahassee Science Festival
Danny Brouillette sets up the very popular 'cloud-in-a-bottle' experiment.  Courtesy:  Erick Olvera-Prado.   

Florida Climate Center service climatologist Danny Brouillette helped to organize and present an exhibit at the Tallahassee Science Festival, held at Lake Ella, on 10 September.  This event attracted 120 exhibitors in a plethora of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields from north and central Florida.  Nearly 6000 attendees, including many school-age children, stopped by the festival.   The exhibit represented the Florida Climate Center as well as other units in the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS) at the Florida State University.  Mr. Brouillette was assisted by Danielle Groenen, Erick Olvera-Prado, and John Steffen -- all doctoral students in COAPS. 

Florida Climate Center in the News

Upcoming Events 
28 September 2016
Drought and Climate in the ACF Basin, Town Hall Meeting with SMARRT in Apalachicola, Fla.

5-6 October 2016
Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact Summit, Agriculture Panel in West Palm Beach, Fla.

12-13 October 2016
NIDIS Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Stakeholders Meeting in Auburn, Ala.

About Us 

The Florida Climate Center is part of a three-tiered system of national, regional, and state climate offices, including NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI - in Asheville, North Carolina) and the Southeast Regional Climate Center (in Chapel Hill, North Carolina). The Florida State Climatologist and other staff at the Florida Climate Center provide the following information and services to the people of Florida:


· Climate Data:

Historical weather observations for weather stations throughout the state of Florida. We are able to provide data for most stations from 1948-present.


· Climate Information:

Long-term historical averages for various stations, climate divisions, and the entire state.


· Extreme Event Records:

Information and analyses on extreme events such as freezes, droughts, floods and hurricanes.


· Special Analysis:

With their vast knowledge of El Niño, La Niña and climate variability, the State Climatologist and staff can offer expert insight into Florida's climate trends.


· Outreach:

Activities, presentations, and workshops that inform and educate the people of Florida about current and emerging climate issues. We also coordinate volunteers for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network (CoCoRaHS).


More About Us