2020 was warmest year on record in South Florida cities

(Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

It’s official — 2020 was the hottest year on record around South Florida. Despite a chilly December, annual temperature records were set in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Naples.

In the case of Miami and Naples, last year edged out 2019 as the warmest year on record.

In Central Florida, Leesburg tied 2017 as the warmest year on record.

Note that in some Florida cities, records only go back to the 1940s or 1950s, but in West Palm Beach they date back to 1888, and in Miami to 1895. So these records are nothing to sniff at, especially when you consider that they beat previous annual temperature records set in 2015, 2017 and 2019.

AND THE HEAT GOES ON: Sanford tied a daily record high on Friday with 85, matching the mark set in 1991. Another day of near-record highs were in the forecast for Saturday: Daytona Beach’s record high for January 2 is 82, set in 2006; Saturday’s forecast high is 84.

Record warm lows were set or tied Friday in Jacksonville (66); Daytona Beach (67); Melbourne (71); and Vero Beach (70).

The stalled cold front that’s been soaking North Florida and the panhandle — Apalachicola picked up 1.29 inches of rain Friday and the Tallahassee area was under a Flash Flood Watch — is forecast to get kicked down the Florida peninsula on Sunday night. The National Weather Service said it would lose much of its convective punch as it moves south, but much cooler temperatures are expected to take hold early next week.

So far, we aren’t looking at the kind of cold temps we saw on Christmas weekend, but they’ll feel chilly after highs in the 80s and balmy overnight lows in the upper 60s and 70s.

In South Florida, lows in coastal areas should be in the 50s on Tuesday and Wednesday, with lows in the 40s in the interior.

A warming trend brings temps to more seasonal levels by the end of the week.

December goes out cool and dry; but 2020 was hot-hot-hot!

(Image credit: NWS-Tallahassee)

FRIDAY UPDATE: A cold front was expected to stall out over North Florida this weekend and bring heavy rain to parts of the Florida panhandle. The front is forecast to get picked up and move south through the peninsula early next week, bringing “seasonably cool” temperatures to South Florida.

RECORD WATCH: West Palm Beach tied a record warm low Thursday with 74 degrees, matching a mark set in 2015.

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NOAA issued its January forecast Thursday, calling for above normal temperatures in Florida and most of the U.S., with the exception of the Southwest. Highest chances of above normal temps are in the Great Lakes States and the Northeast. (Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

It was an up-and-down temperature month around the Florida peninsula, but December overall will go into the books as a cooler than normal month thanks to four strong cold fronts.

Most cities turned in slight precipitation deficits for December.

The absolute final data won’t be available until next year . . . which is just hours away . . . but here are the near-final figures through Wednesday.

Miami is finishing the month with temperatures running 1.4 degrees below average, and a 0.38 of an inch rainfall shortage. It was the only month of 2020 with below normal temps except for May, when the city finished a half-degree below normal. The month with the biggest temperature anomaly was April, when temps ran 6.1 degrees above average.

Key West was 1.7 degrees below average through New Year’s Eve, and the island also turned in a slight precipitation deficit at -0.71 of an inch. December was the only month of 2020 with below average temps in Key West, and like Miami, the biggest temperature anomaly was in April.

Central Florida turned in an even chillier December performance, with Orlando at 3.8 degrees below average and a rainfall deficit of 1.46 inches. Like Key West, December was the only month of the year with below normal temperatures, but the warmest month compared to normal was March, when the city finished the month at an impressive 7.1 degrees above average.

Tampa had a December temperature deficit of 2.4 degrees, along with a light precipitation surplus of 0.39 of an inch. It was the only month of the year with below average temperatures; March had the largest temperature anomaly at plus-7 degrees.

Jacksonville is ending December 3.1 degrees below average for the month, with a precipitation shortfall of 0.37 of an inch. July in Jacksonville was also slightly below normal — just a tenth of a degree; and June had a temperature deficit of four-tenths of a degree. Jacksonville’s warmest month compared to average was March, with temperatures a whopping 9.1 degrees above normal.

Tallahassee ended December at -2.5 degrees with a precipitation deficit of 0.73 of an inch. It was the only month of the year with below normal temps — and like a lot of other cities, March was the warmest compared to average, at plus-8.9 degrees.

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RECORD WATCH: Vero Beach tied a record warm low Wednesday with 69 degrees, matching a record for the date set just one year ago.

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2021 OUTLOOK: My prediction for the new year weather in Florida: Hot, especially from around May into September and October, followed by slightly cooler temperatures in November and December. (You’re pretty safe with that right?)

Happy New Year!

2020 set to go out warm and breezy

(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

BREEZY CONDITIONS are setting up on Florida’s East Coast starting today and continuing through the end of the week, according to the National Weather Service. Since the winds will be gusting from the east-northeast, beach goers will encounter rough surf and rip currents from east-central areas all the way down to Miami and into the Keys.

Temperatures will be on the rise over much of the Florida peninsula, with highs getting into the low 80s in South Florida by New Year’s Day . . . .

(Image credit: NWS-Tallahassee)

. . . But then a cold front approaches the panhandle New Year’s Eve and into New Year’s Day. Forecasters expect it to slow down or even stall over North Florida over the weekend, but then a developing low in the Gulf of Mexico gives it a push early next week, bringing it all the way down into South Florida. It may be running out of gas by the time it gets into South Florida, and NWS forecasters in Miami say it’s unclear how much rain could slide into the area.

Post cold front, temperatures should return to more seasonable levels, or maybe slightly below normal. (But no indication of the kind of cold temps we had over Christmas weekend) . . . .

(Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

. . . In fact, the latest long-range forecast from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center suggests above normal temperatures for the second week of January, not only in Florida but the entire eastern two-thirds of the U.S.

Sunday update: Naples posts record cool high

Sunday morning temps in West-Central Florida. (Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

One last cold morning, and that will be it for the rest of the year!

Which is only five days.

Sunday morning lows: Miami, 52; West Palm Beach, 47; Fort Lauderdale, 51; Naples, 46; Orlando, 37; Daytona Beach, 35; Tampa, 37; Gainesville, 24; Cross City, 22; Jacksonville, 27; Tallahassee, 25.

Sunday forecast highs: Miami, 72; Orlando, 66; Tampa, 67; Jacksonville, 61; Tallahassee, 58.

Winds turn northeast today and bring in warmer air off the Atlantic. In fact, from Tuesday night through Friday night, forecast lows for South Florida’s East Coast are in the 70s, a far cry from the Christmas cold snap.

A cold front is due to roll down the Florida peninsula Friday night into Saturday, but the National Weather Service says it won’t be packing much of a punch by the time it arrives in South Florida.

RECORD WATCH: Saturday’s high in Naples was only 60 degrees, which set a record for the coolest high for December 26. The previous record was 61, set in 1993.

Teeth-chattering: wind chills in teens in North Florida

The southeast coast should make it into the 60s today but interior areas will top out in the 50s. (Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

Don’t worry, I promise not to mention falling iguanas today.

But it was a nasty cold Saturday morning by Florida standards, with northern counties plunging all the way down into the low 20s.

Saturday morning apparent lows: Miami, 47; West Palm Beach, 41; Fort Lauderdale, 46; Naples, 44.

Orlando and Melbourne, 36; Leesburg, 34; Winter Haven, 37; Tampa, 38; Gainesville, 24 (with a wind chill of 19 degrees); Cross City, 22; Jacksonville, 26; Lake City, 21; Tallahassee, 23; Key West, 58; Marathon, 55.

I couldn’t find any record setting temps in the state for Friday, although Jacksonville had a record wind gust of 46 mph on Christmas Eve. We should consider ourselves lucky, in South and most areas of Central Florida, that we didn’t have to bag tropical plants during this holiday weekend weather fiasco.

And National Weather Service forecasters in Miami said Saturday morning: “Good news is that the cold spell will finally begin backing off Sunday afternoon as max temps climb back to the upper 60s to low 70s with the veering NE winds pushing warmer air into the area.”

So far, the New Year’s holiday weekend doesn’t look too bad. Another cold front is headed into the peninsula, but South and Central locations may only be getting the tail end of it, according to forecasters. The GFS shows a cool-down on Friday but nothing too dramatic.

Warm-up starts Sunday; balmy New Year’s Day in forecast

(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

Merry Christmas from frigid Florida!

“Certainly keeps looking like this will likely be the coldest christmas in 20+ years,” National Weather Service in Miami said.

Morning lows (Weather Underground): Temps bottomed out close to 50 degrees on both South Florid coasts, with 40s inland. It was in the low- to mid-40s in Central Florida but 30s north of Orlando with freezing or near-freezing temperatures north of a line from around Ocala over to St. Augustine.

It was 26 in Live Oak, 28 in the Tallahassee area and mid- to upper-20s in the Florida panhandle, except high 30s to near 40 in some of the Gulf Coast areas.

Apparent lows from the National Weather Service: Miami, 54; Fort Lauderdale, 53; Naples, 51; and West Palm Beach, 50. It was 63 in Key West and in Marathon.

Orlando, 40; Tampa, 46; Jacksonville, 32; and Tallahassee, 27.

After another (slightly colder) Saturday morning, and an unseasonably cold Saturday, a warm-up begins Sunday and into next week.

“Temperatures will reach normal levels by Monday and by mid to late week will be running a good 3 to 5 degrees above normal for day time highs and 5 to 10 for overnight lows.”

The GFS is showing a warm New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day before another shot of cold air brings more below normal temperatures to Florida next weekend.

The night of the iguanas: Hard freeze could deliver a wallop

Most of the Florida peninsula was under a Level 1 (Marginal) threat for severe weather on Thursday into Friday morning, according to NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center. The Florida panhandle was under a Level 2 threat (Slight) as the front comes through on Thursday. (Image credit: NOAA/ SPC)

A Weather Underground headline this morning said: Frozen Iguanas May Soon Be a Problem in Florida.

Iguanas have been spotted as far north as Jacksonville, but they are becoming plentiful in Central Florida — although not as plentiful as they are in South Florida. In any case, the population north of Orlando could be in for a couple of rough nights tonight and Friday night.

There’s a hard freeze watch for North Florida with a forecast low on Saturday morning of 26 in Gainesville. Much of the rest of the peninsula will bottom out in the 30s and 40s (the southeast coast). That’s cold enough to stun iguanas but most of them should recover.

There’s no question, however, that this particular cold front means business.

It was in the single digits Thursday morning as far south as northern Missouri, and temperatures were below zero in northwestern Iowa. Temps were in the teens in the Chicago area. This morning’s low in Roseau, Minnesota was -20.

It was in the 70s along Florida’s southeast coast, with forecast highs in the 80s before the cold front that was just entering the Florida panhandle slaps the peninsula with Arctic air.

(Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)

The panhandle and North Florida could see a tornado spin up as the front moves through, but severe weather chances diminish as it rolls down the peninsula. East-Central Florida was under a Moderate Threat for “excessive lightning.”

The thunderstorm threat (overnight) in South Florida was mainly north of Alligator Alley, the National Weather Service said.

Holiday weather story: heat index near 90 gives way to wind chill in 30s

More below normal temperatures are in the long-range forecast for all of Florida — and the southern tier of states — for the first week of January. (Image credit: NOAA/ CPC)

In Finland they run out of the sauna and jump into an ice-cold lake or pile of snow. South Florida may experience something similar on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, as heat index readings near 90 give way to wind chills in the 30s.

At least, that is the picture painted by National Weather Service forecasters in Miami, who have had a busy week adjusting their predictions on just how hot it’s going to get on Thursday and just how cold it’s going to get on Friday.

The latest forecast: Christmas Eve day will bring “near record highs for the east coast metro areas” with “heat indices to be in the mid to upper 80s over most areas except around 90 over the east coast metro areas.”

And for Christmas and Christmas night: “Wind chill values may reach the 30s across most of [South Florida].”

Actually, this seems like an appropriate way to start the final week of a month that has seen more ups and downs than the International Yo-Yo Federation.

So far, Miami has been as warm as 85 this month and as cold as 48; Fort Lauderdale, 85 and 47; West Palm Beach, 84 and 44; and Naples, 81 and 45.

Up in Central Florida, Orlando has a December temperature spread of 80 and 39; Daytona Beach, 80 and 37; Melbourne, 81 and 37; and Lakeland, 82 and 38.

Temperature spreads have been even more dramatic in North Florida, where Jacksonville reached 81 on December 14 and bottomed out at 28 degrees on December 2. Gainesville: 78 and 26. Tallahassee: 74 and 27.

December average temperatures will likely end up below normal across the state, pretty much the opposite of what an La Niña winter is supposed to look like in Florida.

South Florida could have coldest Christmas in 21 years, Weather Service says

(Image credit: NWS-Miami)

After more than a decade of balmy holiday temps, South Florida could be headed for the coldest Christmas since 1999, according to National Weather Service forecasters in Miami.

Saturday morning temperatures could bottom out in the low 30s in interior areas, with low- to mid-40s on the coasts. Most areas will have wind chills in the 30s.

Sebring, for example, may hover right around the freezing mark with a forecast low of 34.

With Impacts from the Christmas Eve/ Christmas Day cold front coming into better focus, it looks like the Nature Coast will be in the deep freeze, with a forecast low in Brooksville of 28 degrees.

Even in the Keys, forecasters are calling for lows in Key West and Marathon of 55 and 52 — with the Upper Keys falling into the 40s.

One good bit of news (although I realize some people relish these cold snaps since Florida is home to heat and humidity six to nine months out of the year) is that a warm-up should begin Saturday afternoon courtesy of the warm waters of the Atlantic.

The Canadian high pressure system parked over the Southeastern U.S. is expected to move off the East Coast, bringing northeast to easterly winds to the Florida peninsula.

By the way, the GFS model is calling for a toastier New Year’s Day, with possible highs in the 80s in Central and South Florida. But that’s followed by another potent cold front later in the weekend.

Of course that’s 11 days away and subject to revision, but Weather Underground’s forecast high for New Year’s Eve in Miami is 79.

Florida December temps: What goes up must come down

(Image credit: NWS-TampaBay)

Florida temperatures this December have been on a rollercoaster ride — and it looks like that may continue right through the end of the month.

Major cold snaps occurred December 1-3, and again December 7-11, with another short-lived event this morning and into Saturday.

Friday morning apparent lows: Miami, 55; Fort Lauderdale, 53; West Palm Beach and Naples, 50. It was 63 in Key West and 60 in Marathon.

It was 41 in Orlando; Melbourne, 43; Vero Beach, 45; Fort Pierce, 46; Tampa, 41; Sarasota, 46; Leesburg, 38; Gainesville, 30; Cross City, 28; Daytona Beach, 37; Jacksonville, 32; and Tallahassee, 30.

Luckily we haven’t had any record-busting lows and there has been only patchy frost west of Lake Okeechobee. Even for people who like cold weather this time of the year, a freeze in South Florida has nasty consequences, not only for agriculture but for your home landscaping maintenance as well.

The cold snaps have been interspersed with near-record high temperatures in some cases — take Miami for example. The high was 85 on Monday, just two degrees off the record for the date. On the other hand, the temperature bottomed out at 48 a few days earlier on December 10. That wasn’t a record either, but it did represent a 32-degree temperature difference over a four day period.

There have been enough cold days to put overall December temps below normal through Thursday, and it looks like that may continue right through the holidays.

In their Friday morning forecast discussions, National Weather Service forecasters are hinting at another potent cold front coming through the state from Christmas Eve into Christmas Day. For now, it doesn’t look too serious, according to long-range forecasts by both Weather Underground and AccuWeather.

But the GFS model is showing some 30s all the way down into South Florida’s West Coast late Christmas weekend. The Canadian model (CMC) seems to support this idea, and both models suggest temperatures in the single digits for the Great Lakes States as the holiday weekend winds down.