The science behind the winter solstice. (Credit: NWS-Miami)
A cold front was struggling its way into South Florida Wednesday morning just as winter arrived — at 5:44 a.m. EST.
It’s tempting to conclude that the cooler weather is here to stay with the arrival of the new season, but that’s apparently not what nature has in mind. Heat and humidity will return to Florida for Christmas weekend and will dominate the final week of 2016, the National Weather Service says.
More record highs and record warm lows were set around Florida on Tuesday — including a record high of 88 in Naples — and after a brief respite it will be right back into the soup with air conditioners getting an early winter workout.
If it’s any consolation for coolish weather wishers, and it probably isn’t, December 2016 is running behind the torrid pace of December 2015, which was the hottest on record in South Florida. The month through Tuesday is 6.3 degrees above average compared to last year’s blistering pace of 8.2 degrees, although if next week’s forecast pans out overall temperatures will likely edge closer to 2015’s hot and clammy close.
The average high in West Palm Beach through Tuesday was 81 degrees, with an average low of 69.5, not exactly winter wonderland conditions.
Once the current cold front falls apart, high pressure will build again in the Atlantic and spread over the Florida peninsula, sending temperatures into the mid-80s away from the coast and low 80s at the beaches.
Holiday conditions in northern states won’t be bad by seasonal standards. Chicago is expected to reach the mid-40s on Christmas Day but with clouds and drizzle. Call it gloomy and raw, neither fair nor exceptionally foul, the city stuck in weatherland limbo.
The weather map issued by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center has the U.S. Southeast painted blood-red into the first week of the new year, so no pattern changes are on the immediate horizon.
It looks like the holiday week will be a good time to relax outside with a good book. See you at the beach.
The Eastern U.S. — from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Coast — is expected to be unseasonably warm into the new year. (Credit: NOAA/ CPC)