Record breaking warmth has dominated much of Florida since 2015, Weather Service says

What’s happening to the climate in Florida? It definitely hasn’t been business as usual, the National Weather Service said in an eye-opening new report published on Saturday by forecasters in Melbourne.

“The annual weather summaries for east central Florida over the past several years have ended up sounding like a broken record, especially in terms of temperatures,” meteorologist Derrick Weitlich said. “Pronounced warmer than normal conditions have largely continued to dominate the weather pattern across the region since 2015, with annual average temperatures from that year onward for many sites ranking in the top 5 warmest.”

The NWS in Miami said Saturday that all four major observation sites in South Florida — Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Naples — had their warmest year on record in 2020.

Melbourne reports that in East-Central Florida, Leesburg and Sanford tied for their warmest year on record with the note that, “if not for the colder than normal weather that moved into the region in December, it likely would have been the warmest year on record for the majority of climate sites” across the area.

December came in 2-3 degrees below average from Daytona Beach down to Stuart, including Orlando — something that has not occurred in East-Central Florida since March of 2018.

“It is also interesting to note that while it was cold in December, no freezing temperatures occurred at the primary climate
sites, continuing a long stretch of temperatures remaining above 32 degrees since January of 2018 . . . Outside of December, all other months and seasons during 2020 had average temperatures that were either near or above normal, with many ranking within the top 10 warmest.”

Orlando posted 10 high temperature records in 2020, with zero low temperature records. The city had one record cool high temperature — but a whopping 43 warm minimum temperature records. Orlando also had 177 days last year in which the low was at least 70 degrees or warmer, the highest number for any year on record. Notably, the previous record — 171 days — was sset in 2019.

The number of days when the temperature didn’t dip below 70 also set records in Leesburg (172); Sanford (165); and Vero Beach (204). All these cities beat records set in 2019. One exception: Fort Pierce, with 201 days over 70 degrees, remained in second place behind 1929, which had 207.

The NWS Miami office reported last week that areas of East-Central Broward County had rainfall totals in excess of 100 inches in 2020. Thanks to some wet tropical storms during the blockbuster hurricane season, 70-90 inches of rain hammered the Treasure Coast.

“There were even some localized spots in the Stuart and Hobe Sound area that reached up to 95 to 100 inches in 2020,” Weitlich said. “Fort Pierce and Stuart both had annual precipitation totals that ranked as 4th wettest on record for each site. In contrast there were some spots that ended drier than normal, such as Leesburg and Sanford airports that had totals that were 11 to 12 inches below normal for the year.”

Access the full report by clicking here.

West-Central Florida, also despite a cooler than normal December, ended 2020 with “all sites likely ending up with a Top Ten Warmest year,” the National Weather Service in Tampa reported.

Author: jnelander

Freelance writer and editor

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