(Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)
The longest stretch without a freeze ended for Melbourne and Fort Pierce Thursday when temperatures plunged to 30 and 32 degrees, respectively, in the two East Coast cities. The stretch covered four years — 1,459 days, according to the National Weather Service in Melbourne.
Also, Orlando-Sanford International Airport set a new record low for January 18 with 25 degrees.
In West-Central Florida, 10 cities tied record lows or set new records Thursday. Tampa tied a record low at 29. Other cities that tied record lows were Brooksville (23) and Bushnell (22).
New all-time record lows for the date were set at Fort Myers Southwest International Airport (33); Inverness (21); Lakeland (25); Ruskin (27); Plant City (22); and St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport (31).
Lows on Friday morning were 5-10 degrees warmer thanks to modification of the Arctic air mass. And winds were forecast to swing around from the north to the east, bringing in warmer and more moist air from the Atlantic. By Sunday, temperatures are expected to be back near normal across the Florida peninsula, forecasters say.
A second “January thaw” is set to begin next week across the eastern U.S., according to AccuWeather. And NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information snow cover map shows there’s plenty of snow to melt across the U.S., from the Northern Plains east to the Midwest and New England as well as the Mid-Atlantic States.
Snow even covers parts of the Deep South, from Tennessee and North Carolina into Mississippi and Alabama, where snow cover approached the northwestern Florida panhandle.
(Image credit: NOAA/ NESDIS)
January’s cold snaps have also taken a toll on sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico and the western Caribbean, which are now mostly below normal. Waters off Florida — both in the Gulf and the Atlantic — are significantly below average, according to satellite analyses.
The central and eastern Caribbean, however, are still above normal, as are water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic east to the West Coast of Africa.
Water temperatures will have a big effect on the hurricane season come June, but areas that are below normal now can warm rapidly in the spring.