Florida’s winter winds down amid more unseasonable warmth

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Toasty temperatures continue around the Florida peninsula as spring approaches. (Credit: NWS-Miami)

Tuesday is the end of the 2016-17 meteorological winter. We really ought to put the word “winter” in quotes, since it was one of the most un-winter-like seasons in memory.

During a normal winter — which meteorologists consider the Dec. 1 to Feb. 28 time frame — there are at least a handful of nights in the 30s, even in coastal areas of South Florida.

That didn’t happen this year.

The winter’s low in West Palm Beach was 43, and that was one of only five nights that made it into the 40s, all of them in January except for the Dec. 31 low of 49. The season’s low in Miami was 51 on Jan. 30. The low in Fort Lauderdale was 48 on Jan. 8 — and that was the only sub-50-degree low all winter.

Naples made it down to 42 on Jan. 8.

Out of the 90-day winter period, about 50 of them had high temperatures in the 80s in West Palm Beach, at least 67 in Miami, 54 in Fort Lauderdale and 51 in Naples.

There was plenty of 80-degree weather in Central and even North Florida as well, but there were at least some cooler overnight temperatures.

Fort Pierce made it to 33 degrees on Jan. 31, after a strong cold front — one of only two all season — swept through in time for the end of the month. It was 34 in Vero Beach, also the winter’s low. Melbourne’s low was 37; with 35 in Daytona Beach on Jan. 8.

Even Orlando, which doesn’t have the full benefit of moderating effects of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic, bottomed out at 36 on Jan. 8.

The low in Tampa was 34 on Jan. 8; it was 36 in Sarasota on the same day. Fort Myers made it to 40 on Jan. 8 — the city did not have a temperature in the 30s all winter.

You have to look at North Florida to find any freezing weather. It was 26 in Jacksonville on Jan. 8 and 30 degrees on Dec. 31.

Gainesville, usually one of the coolest spots in the peninsula, had a pair of 25-degree lows on Jan. 8 and 9.

North Florida, however, was 5-7 degrees above normal this winter. Central Florida was around 4-6 degrees above average December through February and South Florida sites were between 2.5 to 5 degrees above average. The Keys were around 3-6 degrees on the plus side.

Is it possible that South Florida could still get some cold weather, even as we move into spring? Statistically, yes. Miami has been as cold as 32 in March, and the record low in April is 39.

But those kinds of readings aren’t in long-range forecasts, which stretch out to the end of March.

It looks like Old Man Winter has been sent packing, at least in Florida and much of the U.S. Southeast. Will he be able to book a return trip next year? We may be dealing with a long and hot spring, summer and fall to find out.

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Highs will be in the upper 80s by mid-week in Orlando. (Credit: NWS-Melbourne)

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Author: jnelander

Freelance writer and editor

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