- Kimberly Miller Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
A fast-moving cold front will sweep through South Florida today, heralded by showers and a possible thunderstorm.
But in its wake are days forecasters called “postcard”-worthy, with clear skies, dry air and high temperatures that will top out around 70 degrees Thursday and Friday. Overnight lows could dip into the 40s around Lake Okeechobee on Thursday and low 50s near the coast.
“For here, that’s a little cold,” said Patrick Vellardi, who sat at Lake Worth Beach Tuesday with his wife, Carol. “That’s not beach weather for us. It’s time for the ball park.”
The front is attached to the second powerful, low pressure system to barrel through the Northeast this month, triggering winter storm warnings from Pennsylvania to Maine with up to two feet of snow possible in areas of eastern and upstate New York.
Although the nor’easter is not expected to be as damaging as last week’s storm, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency Tuesday as gale warnings and flood advisories went up along the coast.
“Airline passengers should expect a new round of flight delays and cancellations in the Northeast with some ripple-effect delays elsewhere in the nation,” said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
Barry Baxter, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami, said it’s not unusual for South Florida to get cold fronts through March.
While the temperatures will be cooler than what’s normal for this time of year, it may feel even more extreme compared to February, which was 2.1 degrees above the previous record for February warmth set in 1932.
“That was not normal,” Baxter said about February’s warm temperatures. “We can still get fronts in early March, even at the end of March, but once we’re in April, it’s harder for them to push through.”
If the forecast holds true, this cold front could bring the lowest temperatures since January. The coldest it got at Palm Beach International Airport in February was 59 degrees on Feb. 2.
“As far as we’re concerned, what’s coming is not a cold front,” said Maryland resident Beth Hannon, who was visiting relatives in Lake Worth this week. “Just embrace it. That’s what I say, embrace it.”
Hannon sat on Lake Worth Beach on a small bit of sand that wasn’t awash in seawater during Tuesday’s high tide.
For a third day, lifeguards closed off beach entrances during high tide to keep people safe from big surf still pounding the coastline from last week’s nor’easter. Doug Yoakum, aquatics manager for the city of Lake Worth, said a woman needed to be rescued Sunday after she was caught by a wave that pushed her into the seawall and then pulled her into the surf.
On Tuesday, two people were rescued from the water off Singer Island after they were swept into the ocean by a wave near the Marriott Ocean Pointe resort.
“Most people see a nice, clear day with light winds and think there are no problems at the beach,” Baxter said.
The big waves will subside a bit through the week, but are forecast to remain as high as 9 feet Thursday. A high risk of rip current remains in effect through Friday, with a small craft advisory in effect through Thursday.
A small craft advisory is issued when wind speeds are forecast to be between 24 and 38 mph.
Today’s rain chances are 50 percent, and forecasters hope enough rain will fall to reduce the threat of wildfires in South Florida. On Tuesday, Palm Beach County was at a “high” risk on the Florida Forest Service’s fire danger index.
“We’ve been dry and very warm,” Baxter said. “Humidity will really drop Friday night, which can increase fire concerns.”