Friday, December 31, 2010

A Record-Setting Year of Extreme Weather That Will Not be Forgotten ends on a Tranquil Note!

Friday December 31, 2010     12:45 p.m.  Weather Blog Archive to 2007!

What a year it has been. I wanted to make sure I checked in with you before I begin the New Year's celebration with my family. Here are the top 5 weather stories of the year. Just one of these top five would make it a year to remember but to have a list of 5 and then some makes this year one of the most extreme years ever and it should be one of those years we talk about in Florida like 1989 and the late 1970s. It is hard to believe we set, tied, or broke 15 record highs and lows. I do not think that has ever been done before. We had 45 freezes and the previous record of 38 in 1977 was not even close. So that is why my yard has turned to hay! Our winter of 2010 was the coldest in 33 years with 12 of the first 14 days of the New Year experiencing freezes.

We did warm up in a big way for the summer with our second hottest one on record. We had an incredible 50 days in a row at 90 degrees or above. That was also a record! This was due to the fact that we had a blocking ridge of high pressure sitting over Florida so our normal afternoon and evening thunderstorms that cool us off never really got going like they normally do. We also had a trough of low pressure off the East Coast of Florida which tended to deflect all tropical systems that formed to our east out to sea. The tropical systems that did form to our south and west stayed south and headed toward Mexico around the clockwise circulation of our big high pressure.

Even though it did not make my  top 5 list, the US not having any land falling hurricanes in its third busiest season on record was unprecedented. Usually with 19 named storms you normally would have about 4 hurricanes strike the US if you look at all the averages. We had none! Since Florida receives a good chunk of its annual rain from thunderstorms and tropical systems that really never impacted us like they normally do we had our 4th driest year on record and Jacksonville ended up with a rain deficit of nearly 19 inches. The extreme drought will likely be a huge story as we head into 2009.

We also had snow flurries twice in the same year in our viewing area. Most people do not remember that Putnam County had snow flurries back in January and we did it again in a much bigger way Christmas weekend when many folks saw their first real flakes of snow since 1989. Some teenagers saw it for the first time ever! Ahhhh, the memories! The reason for this crazy weather I would not say is entirely due to the strong El Nino we had to start the year and the strong La Nina that developed by the autumn. While Pacific Ocean temperatures are a huge part of our climate puzzle at home I think the negative North Atlantic Oscillation and negative Arctic Oscillation played key roles.

This blocking pattern you see brought well above average temperatures to Greenland and Northeast Canada. Since nature likes keeping a balance somebody had to pay the price and that was us. Notice how the blocking high pressure forced the jet stream right from the North Pole to our backyards and with this north to northwest flow this also cuts off any moisture that could have brought us beneficial rain. Now as we head into 2011 I think this pattern will relax and it already is which is bringing us more typical La Nina conditions here in Florida.

Check out the new jet stream configuration. Jet streams guide weather all over the globe. La Nina brings us above average temperatures and below average precipitation. Now the block will develop again this winter but it will not be a permanent fixture. So while we cannot rule out a couple more cold blasts they likely will not be for as long or as strong as we saw in December and the big news is the La Nina will take over rather than the North Atlantic Oscillation. This is good news for warmer weather lovers and all the snowbirds here from the North.

So bring on the 70s! They are here to stay throughout our big weekend and the only polar plunge I see taking place is in the Atlantic Ocean at Jacksonville Beach at 9 a.m. Saturday. It will be my second year partaking in this breath-taking event and this time we will have the television crew out there to capture you in all your glory. Here I am in all my glory. You see my friend Mike and I were happy to feel our faces and hands again after diving into the ocean. This year no rain to worry about like last year and temperatures will be a much more pleasant 60 degrees. But the water temperature of 51 degrees will make sure this event lives up to its Polar Bear Plunge name. The water is running about 5 degrees colder than last year.

Your New Year's Eve forecast tonight looks great but since we have a moist cool sea breeze that is working in during the afternoon there will be plenty of moisture for fog to form so make sure you are careful while driving late tonight. 8 p.m. temperatures will be in the lower 60s with middle to upper 50s at midnight. I wish you the best and many blessings for the New Year! Have lots of fun but be safe! The weather highlight of my year....I definitely think it was the snow but you come in first. To be able to bring you the weather forecast every week is a privilege and I cannot thank you enough for all your support. It is a dream come true to be able to do weather where it all began right here in Jacksonville, Florida! It is good to be home. I am excited about 2011 and so is our weather team!

Tomorrow on your weather blog we will ring in the new year by taking a look at the deadly tornadoes that hit Arkansas and what will transpire as it moves east and how much rain it will actually bring us.

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