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It used to seem that we would keep an eye out on the tropical weather updates a couple of weeks into December, just right after the Hurricane Season ends in November because a storm could be possible. But February! Really!

“Our calendars may say it's February, but Mother Nature's calendar says it's more like May in the waters of South Florida, where the year's first significant tropical disturbance is drenching the Keys,” commented Dr. Jeff Masters yesterday on his blog at Weather Underground website.

The disturbance which formed just offshore Belize was designated Invest 90L by NHC late Sunday morning, and by Monday, February 6, 2012, had dumped 1 - 3 inches of rain over much of the Florida Keys. The same system was responsible for a bit of rain in Belize since last week Friday.

According to Dr. Jeff Masters, the storm was close to developing a surface circulation on Sunday night, but wind shear values to fell to 20 - 25 knots and NHC gave 90L a 30% chance of developing into a subtropical depression in a special Tropical Weather Outlook issued Sunday.

So there is nothing for us in Belize to worry about or anybody as a matter of fact. The system will continue to grow less organized as it moves over Nassau in the Bahamas and heads out to sea. Just the mere fact that the weather system almost had potential into turning into a tropical disturbance during the month of February is amazing!

Dr. Masters stated that strong tropical disturbances capable of developing into named storms are very rare in February, but that he had seen one in his 30-year career as a meteorologist. The 1952 Groundhog Day Storm was the only Atlantic tropical cyclone on record in the month of February.

“However, ocean temperatures are warm enough year-round to support a tropical storm in the waters of the Western Caribbean. If an unusual configuration of the jet stream allows wind shear to drop below about 25 knots in the Western Caribbean, there is the opportunity for a rare off-season tropical storm to form in February,” stated Dr. Masters. “Something is definitely up with the weather, and it is clear to me that over the past two years, the climate has shifted to a new state capable of delivering rare and unprecedented weather events. Human emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide are the most likely cause of such a shift in the climate, as I discussed in my post last week; where is the climate headed?”

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Dorian Nuñez

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