JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Welcome to July -- a month known for fireworks, heat and drought. However it has been milder than usual and the opposite of drought here in Florida.
A persistent trough in the eastern United States has allowed a very cold winter to transition to a cool spring and below normal summer. Part of that is thanks in part to abundant clouds and rainfall but has also allowed cooler air to spill out of Canada into the southeast.
The flip side to the cool and wet pattern in the East usually means a strong ridge of high pressure in the West. That equates to blistering hot weather in the desert southwest, where observed temperatures in Furnace Creek, California (Death Valley) reached 129 degrees last Sunday.
Phoenix, Arizona reached temperatures of 120 degrees in recent days.
While the heat is excessive, these temperatures are no where near the all-time record highs of 100 years ago, when Death Valley reached 134 degrees in July of 1913.
The same ridge that has brought stiffing heat to the southwest has also driven temperatures in Alaska to over 90 degrees, but again, nowhere near the record.
Before global warming is blamed for the heat, a couple of things should be noted here. First, heat waves are independent of normal greenhouse forcing. Heat waves are driven by high pressure and dry air. Dry air (made of mostly nitrogen) heats and cools rapidly. The second point here is that the arctic is experiencing their coldest summer on record with minimal ice melt. In fact, looking at the latest visible satellite from NASA Interactive, nearly half of Hudson's Bay is still frozen as of July 2.
So what's the outlook for Florida? This persistent pattern that we've been in since March looks to maintain itself for the next two weeks. That means more abundant afternoon showers and storms are likely and average to slightly below average temperatures for our region.
There is the possibility that we have seen the hottest temps of the summer thus far, but we still have another two months before things begin to cool off a bit.
The Forth of July is still a wait and see. The forecast currently calls for partly cloudy to mostly cloudy skies in the early afternoon with typical seabreeze storms by 2 pm.
If all works out as currently forecast, all the storms that do fire up should be pushing well inland by the time the fireworks displays in Jacksonville, the beaches and Clay County should go off without any problems. Look for temperatures to hold in the mid to upper 80s for highs and a 9:30 p.m. temperature of around 82 degrees.
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