Is the South Florida winter weather evolving into a humdrum replay of its oppressive summer heat?
That’s the argument made in a Washington Post article last week. “The past two Decembers have made the tourist-enticing phrase ‘endless summer’ a reality — great for our visitors, not so great for us,” writes Brian McNoldy for the Capital Weather Gang.
Average December temperatures in South Florida have in fact been on the upswing, and Miami is now slightly warmer, through Dec. 24, than last year’s blistering pace. There have been two days this month with highs of 87, and six nights in which the low temperature failed to sink below the mid-70s. The low on Dec. 18 was 79.
The average high so far this month in Miami is 83 with an average low of 72.
Fort Lauderdale, though, is running almost a full degree behind 2015 and West Palm Beach is running 1.4 degrees behind last year’s record pace.
With a cold front due at the end of the week, it’s doubtful that any new monthly records will be set in Broward or Palm Beach counties, although Miami could come close.
Remember, too, that last year’s ultra-warm December was followed by two cooler than normal months in January and February. That was true for all major southeast coast reporting stations — Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
Most of that was blamed on El Niño, which keeps a lid on temperature just by virtue of enhanced cloud cover and stormier weather. And not to forget, the summer was record hot in many South Florida locations.
Still, I don’t hear many people complaining about the warm winter weather. There has been, to be sure, less open window weather since the dry season began in October, but we’ll have our fair share of cool-downs in January and February.
The hot and dry summer was of more concern to permanent year-round residents of South Florida. Water bills and power bills spiked. The serviceman from the company that services my air conditioner told me that a lot of people are having to install more powerful systems to accommodate the rise in summer temperatures, which sometimes bottomed out in the wee hours of the morning at 85 degrees.
There is more worry, too, about the rise in sea temperatures in both the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Ocean heat provides more fuel for late-summer and fall hurricane and it was a miracle that Florida’s Southeast Coast barely escaped the fury of October’s Hurricane Matthew (although Central and North Florida, and the Bahamas, were not so lucky.)
Toasty wintertime temps are a little different story. When I start to hear myself complain about 80 degrees in December and January, I’ll figure it may be time to pull up stakes and head north.