Record-Breaking Heat. Hurricanes. South Florida’s Year in Weather

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When stormy weather struck South Florida this year – leaving several roads and streets flooded – residents found creative ways to navigate through the wet streets. Some revved up their air-boats; others used rafts and paddleboards to safely wade through the water. Even when the weather is dismal, South Floridians definitely keep the “Sunshine” in “Sunshine State.”
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2017 is on tap to be South Florida’s hottest year yet. In July, Miami experienced its hottest month ever (an average of 85.8 degrees) since record-keeping began in 1896. In May, an all-time high temperature of 98 degrees was recorded at Miami International Airport, the first time temperatures reached nearly 100 degrees in a month outside of June, July or August. It’s not just South Florida that felt the heat, though. March 2017 was the 2nd warmest March on record for the planet, and April 2017 was the 2nd warmest April on record for the planet as well.
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2017 was marked by devastating hurricanes that tore through South Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas and several Caribbean islands. Hurricane Irma prompted a state of emergency for the state of Florida, and broke records in and of itself. The storm sustained 185-mph winds for 37 hours, the longest of any hurricane on record. Irma was also a Category 5 storm for more than three days – the only other hurricane that had been a Cat. 5 for that long was the deadly 1932 storm in Cuba. 2017’s hurricane season as a whole was record-breaking. The Atlantic Ocean had a total of 17 named storms, the ninth-most on record since 1851, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Ten of those storms became hurricanes, with six classified as major hurricanes. This year’s hurricane season was also the costliest: The combined tab from hurricanes Harvey and Irma is expected to hit $200 billion, according to a preliminary estimate from Moody's Analytics. Hurricane Maria is likely to cause between $45 billion and $95 billion worth of damage in Puerto Rico, Moody's reported. The previous record of $211.2 billion was set in 2005.
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During the 2016-2017 meteorological winter (which lasts from Dec. 1 to Feb. 28), South Florida held a record of 0 readings of 50 degrees or lower. That changed on Dec. 12, 2017, when temperatures dropped to 48 degrees in Miami. An analysis by Climate Central showed that 80 percent of the 2016-17 winter days in Miami were warmer than normal. Just up the coast, Fort Lauderdale also had its warmest winter, averaging 73.3 degrees.
Sawgrass Mills in Sunrise closed for three days in June, when overnight rain caused flooding of the parking lot and surrounding areas. Cars and passengers were left stranded after the downpour.
More than 100 wildfires roared through parts of Florida this year, making it the most active wildfire season since 2011. The fires destroyed 19 homes and burned through more than 60,000 acres of land. Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in April 2017 to address the problem.
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South Florida did not get to see this year’s solar eclipse in all its glory, but the celestial event was still a rare, community-building experience for the region. To view the partial eclipse – which occurred when the moon covered about 80 percent of the sun – several local museums organized watch parties and libraries gave away free solar eclipse glasses.
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