A tickle of arctic chill will drift through South Florida late this week, promising double-digit temperature drops and overnight plunges into the 50s.
National Weather Service forecasters were confident Monday that the season’s second significant cold front won’t disappoint. It follows a clutch of tired cool fronts that limped through the state or stalled out, offering little in the way of relief from an abnormally warm late autumn.
The exact timing is still in question, but the official forecast calls for a late Friday blast with Saturday morning temperatures in West Palm Beach in the high 50s with mid-50s farther inland. Daytime highs Saturday and Sunday are expected to reach only about 70 degrees.
“It’s the first sweeping front in a while,” said Chris Dolce, a digital meteorologist with The Weather Channel and Weather.com. “You’ll be running a few degrees above average for much of the week, and then drop.”
The first strong cold front of the season hit South Florida in October, with a high temperature in West Palm Beach on Oct. 30 of just 69 degrees and an overnight low of 52.
Since then, daytime temperatures have been slightly above normal, with nighttime temperatures tying decades-old heat records last week.
The normal high for this time of year is 77 degrees, with a normal overnight low of 62 degrees. Monday peaked at 80 degrees at Palm Beach International Airport and cooled to 68 overnight.
“We’ve had fronts that have come through, but they just haven’t made much of a difference in temperature,” said Chris Fisher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami. “This one will be a noticeable drop in temperatures and humidity.”
The front is attached to a low pressure system over the Midwest that triggered blizzard warnings for parts of the Dakotas and Minnesota. A winter storm watch was issued for parts of western New York with heavy lake effect snow possible as the front passes over the warmer waters of the Great Lakes.
“The storm will pack everything from the first blizzard conditions of the season to strong winds, a blast of arctic air, drenching rain and locally severe thunderstorms,” said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
For South Florida, the front means increased rain chances on Thursday and Friday with winds turning from southeast to southwest. Saturday is expected to be partly sunny, turning to full sunshine on Sunday. While the official forecast from the NWS goes out only seven days, AccuWeather’s extended forecast keeps daytime temperatures in the low to mid-70s through Dec. 14.
Dolce said the front will make its way into North Florida on Wednesday but stall before a second pulse pushes it through Friday.
“It’s not going to be record-breaking cold, but definitely a change,” Dolce said. “It’s a different pattern than what we’ve seen of late, which has been kind of boring.”