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.

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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.

Broward 2020 rainfall shocker: 100-plus inches

Plus: I want to say one word to you. Just one word: Plastics!’

SOGGY YEAR IN REVIEW: East-Central Broward County had more than 105 inches of rain in 2020, more than 40 inches over the normal annual rainfall, the National Weather Service in Miami said Monday. But the unusual totals were extremely localized this year, and Naples actually had below normal rainfall in 2020.

With four more days to go, Naples turned in a 2020 total of 43.68 inches, 8.02 below average. West Palm Beach checked in with 72.24 inches, 10.46 above average. Fort Lauderdale officially had 95.18 inches, 33.28 over average; and Miami had 86.56 inches, 24.95 above normal.

Luckily, South Florida didn’t have any hurricanes this year, but some very wet tropical storms, including November’s Tropical Storm Eta, dropped abundant rains on the southeast coast.

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IT’S EVERYWHERE IT’S EVERYWHERE: Plastic, that is. The world is awash in it, from food containers on your supermarket shelves to products for your car and even home construction materials. The problem of micro-pieces of plastic in the oceans has been well documented, but now a new study reveals that it’s in the air as well.

(If you’re out on your boat or enjoying a day at the beach, you’re probably breathing in more than fresh sea air.)

Microplastics get swept up into the atmosphere from bubbles on the water’s surface. They are picked up by winds and transported to remote parts of the ocean, according to scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

“Once microplastics are in the atmosphere, they dry out, and they are exposed to UV light and atmospheric components with which they interact chemically,” says Miri Trainic, of the Institute’s Earth and Planetary Sciences Department.

“That means the particles that fall back into the ocean are likely to be even more harmful or toxic than before to any marine life that ingests them.”

Once it’s in the food chain, the plastics and related toxins may be headed for your dinner table.

Trainic and fellow researchers found high levels of common plastics – polystyrene, polyethylene, polypropylene and more – in their samples. Ocean currents can carry them hundreds of miles away.

“Last, but not least, like all aerosols, microplastics become part of the large planetary cycles – for example, carbon and oxygen – as they interact with other parts of the atmosphere,” says co-researcher Ilan Koren.

“Because they are both lightweight and long-lived, we will be seeing more microplastics transported in the air as the plastics that are already polluting our oceans break up – even if we do not add any further plastics to our waterways.”

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.