State officials say Florida is having one of its worst wildfire seasons in years. This week on Florida Matters we're talking about the impact these fires have on the state's environment and economy, and whether there's an end in sight for this dry season.

The state tourism industry calls it “Bragging Season”. To the weather community, the three-month period from December to February is referred to as meteorological winter. This year, however, many Floridians are asking themselves “what winter?”


Storms Knock Out Power, Down Trees, Flood Streets

Jan 22, 2017
Pasco County Fire Rescue

A line of severe thunderstorms that caused at least 18 deaths in the Georgia and Mississippi brought strong winds and heavy rain to the Tampa Bay area, knocking down trees and flooding streets Sunday night.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management is urging residents and businesses from Tampa to Pensacola to prepare for heavy rainfall and flooding potential today and lasting potentially through Thursday.

Stormy Weather For The Weekend

Mar 25, 2016
Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

After a beautiful stretch of weather this week, the weekend doesn’t look good for outdoor plans.

A slow moving front and several disturbances moving along it will trigger multiple rounds of showers and thunderstorms through Monday.

We don’t think it will be a complete washout at this point, but there will certainly be some downpours to dodge at times over the next five days. The thunderstorm risk will be mainly confined to central Florida Friday when a weak cold front moves through.

Serious Storms Crossing The State Tuesday Night, Wednesday

Feb 23, 2016
Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

A vigorous front will sweep across Florida Tuesday night and Wednesday, triggering numerous thunderstorms capable of producing wind damage and even a few tornadoes.

The risk of severe weather is highest in the Florida Panhandle Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, and it will then spread south and east during the day Wednesday.  The front will weaken and exit South Florida Wednesday evening.

Severe Storm Risk Across Most of Florida Today

Jan 22, 2016
Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

The  National Weather Service storm prediction center has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for portions of the Tampa Bay area until 5 p.m. today.

Tornado Kills Two In Manatee County

Jan 17, 2016
Manatee County Sheriff's Office

Two Manatee County residents were killed and four children were hospitalized after a tornado swept through the rural community of Duette early Sunday morning.

Get Ready For More Rain

Sep 28, 2015
Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

Many meteorologists have used the phrase "rain without a name" over the years, to describe heavy rain from a tropical weather system that isn't officially named.

For some Floridians, this has happened twice already this summer. And that's just what may happen with Invest 99, the disturbance the National Hurricane Center is monitoring over the southern Gulf of Mexico.

Road Closures Due to Flooding in Hillsborough County

Aug 3, 2015
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, due to the heavy rains Monday morning, the following roads have been closed as of 2 PM:

There's a cold front across much of the U.S. – with temperatures in places like New Orleans at around 29 degrees and Houston about 34 degrees. This map from NASA tells us just how cold it was on Wednesday.

The image was captured at 11 a.m. EST. Here's NASA's explanation:

Western New York can't catch a break. First, it was paralyzed by a mountain of lake-effect snow and unseasonably cold weather. Now, things are thawing and rain is moving in. By Monday, meteorologist say the high temperature could hit 60 degrees.

As USA Today reports, that could cause some serious flooding. The paper adds:

Updated 1:30 a.m. ET Thursday:

Another 2 to 3 feet of snow is expected to fall in the Buffalo area by late Thursday. At least seven deaths in western New York have been blamed on the storm — at least four of them from heart attacks.

Original Post:

Driven by the lake effect, a massive snowstorm dumped up to 60 inches of snow on some parts of western New York, killing at least five people and paralyzing an area used to huge snow totals.

Temperatures Plunge Throughout Florida

Nov 18, 2014
Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

The State of Florida is no exception to the winter weather that is being felt across the nation.

In the wake of a strong cold front, temperatures are likely to reach periods of below freezing readings on Tuesday night. Hard freeze watch and freeze warnings are in effect, Tuesday to Wednesday morning for the Florida Panhandle, as well as, north central and central Florida. In several areas, lows are forecast to be the lowest of the season.

National Hurricane Center

Tropical Storm Edouard has formed in the far eastern Atlantic and is expected to remain out to sea.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said late Thursday that the fifth named tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season had sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) and was centered 1,020 miles (1,645 kms) west of the Cape Verde Islands.

The storm was moving northwest about 13 mph (20 kph).

No coastal warnings or watches are in effect. Edouard is forecast to stay over the open waters of the north central Atlantic.

Tropical Storm Dolly Forms in Southwest Gulf

Sep 2, 2014

Tropical Storm Dolly formed overnight in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico. Florida Public Radio Emergency Network Meteorologist Jeff Huffman says the storm is no threat to Florida.

Dolly became our season's fourth named storm just hours after the fourth month of the season began. The tropical storm appeared healthy on satellite data, and some strengthening will likely occur today before it moves ashore in northeast Mexico early Wednesday. Tropical Storm Dolly is no threat to the State of Florida.

Punxsutawney Phil, the "prognosticator of prognosticators" saw his shadow after being roused from hibernation just long enough to make his annual prediction.

That means ... six more weeks of winter.

The famous groundhog's handler, Bill Deely, made the pronouncement atop Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, at about 7:25 a.m. ET.

As The Associated Press reports:

Punxsutawney Phil, the weather forecasting groundhog, will be rudely rustled from his winter slumber Sunday morning to answer the question of the day: shadow or no shadow? Six more weeks of winter or an early spring?

Why this fascination with Phil? Well, scientifically speaking, long-range forecasting is at best a crapshoot.

Although there was talk of a hard freeze in Central Florida on Monday night, citrus growers say temperatures didn't drop far enough to make special protective measures necessary. In fact, experts say the cold blast sweeping through the area is actually good for the crop.

We've mentioned the polar vortex several times in recent days.

We've said, for instance, that it's "a low pressure system that's usually whirling around the North Pole but has weakened and come south."

But we're still getting asked this question:

Frostbite isn't usually a major worry here in Washington, D.C., but with wind chills below zero forecast for half of the Lower 48 by Tuesday morning, millions of people from the Plains to the East Coast will have to start thinking like Arctic explorers while waiting for a school bus or heading to work.

Noses, fingers, toes and ears face the biggest risk. Those body parts have less blood flowing through them and a lot less mass than the body's core. They're also more likely to be exposed to the elements. Obviously, bundling up those tender parts is key.

One weather map tells the story.

Check out the National Weather Service's map of the Lower 48 for Monday night. If you need to know just how much of the nation's going to be freezing (or well below!), it offers a bone-chilling picture. Anywhere in the blue-to-purple shades is going to be cold — and that's before accounting for wind chills.

What is the Weather Service forecasting?

Bay News 9

A winter storm that stretches from the upper Midwest into the Mid-Atlantic and New England is having an effect on travelers at Tampa International Airport.

Officials posted a message just after noon Thursday on the airport's Facebook page:

A huge storm currently moving through the country's midsection means holiday travelers will face snow, ice and thunderstorms.

As Accuweather explains, this is a spring-like storm moving into a winter pattern, so the prospect is for "nasty" severe weather, "especially across the lower Mississippi Valley."

Rain, sleet, snow and an estimated 43.4 million Americans traveling to be with family or friends.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Newly formed Tropical Storm Karen, which could reach hurricane strength by Friday, is expected to make landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast sometime over the weekend.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says the late-season storm formed Thursday morning about 485 miles south of the Mississippi Delta, with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph. It was moving north-northwest at 12 mph, but was expected to speed up.

Forecasters say it will make landfall in the U.S. either Saturday or Sunday.

There has been a lot of extreme weather in the Northern Hemisphere this year, including the recent torrential rains in Colorado, flooding in Europe, bitter cold in Florida and a heat wave in Alaska. And scientists say all of it is related to some odd behavior by the powerful air currents called the polar jet stream.

TS Isaac Could Turn Hurricane by Thursday

Aug 22, 2012
National Hurricane Center

Tropical storm Isaac is in the Atlantic near the Island of Guadalupe. It could head to Tampa Bay by Monday as a hurricane.

Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the National Hurricane Center in Miami, says Isaac may not be a tropical storm for long...

"It is moving into an area which is favorable for strengthening and we would expect Isaac to become a hurricane probably sometime late Thursday or on Friday," he says.

Feltgen says it's still too early to tell if Isaac will hit Tampa Bay early next week- the start of the Republican National Convention.

Tropical Storm Debby Takes a Toll on Tampa

Jun 25, 2012
Brad Mcclenny / The Gainesville Sun / Associated Press

UPDATE:  As of 9:30 this morning Town ‘N Country Commons, the Upper Tampa Bay Trail, and Alderman’s Ford Park are inaccessible due to severe weather.

Residents of the Sunrise Village Retirement Home will evacuate today as a precaution to more expected rain. Since the area is prone to flooding The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and Hillsborough County Fire Rescue will assist in the evacuation and predict to moving around 90 residents.

Thursday was a day of weather extremes for the Tampa Bay area. 

The National Weather Service in Ruskin reports Tampa and Sarasota both set new high temperature records for May 24 with highs of 96 and 95 respectively. Both Brooksville in Hernando County and Bronson in Levy County posted highs of 97. 

Then, thanks to that heat and humidity, strong storms popped up along the sea breeze Thursday evening.