South Florida's winter frequently felt like summer.

South Florida's winter frequently felt like summer. (Lou Toman, Sun Sentinel)

While much of the nation has been shivering through brutal cold, South Florida just sweated through its third straight abnormally balmy winter.

According to the National Weather Service, it was the third warmest winter on record in Miami, the ninth warmest in West Palm Beach and the 10th warmest in Fort Lauderdale.

In all, the region was two to four degrees warmer than normal in December, January and February.

"This was in sharp contrast to most of the eastern and central United States, which had one of the coldest winters in recent memory," said meteorologist Robert Molleda on Monday.


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Thank – or blame – an area of high pressure over Florida that blocked cold air masses from reaching this far. During the three-month stretch, the region saw the mercury rise to 80 degrees or higher on numerous days.

The hottest local winter reading: 88 degrees in Fort Lauderdale on Feb. 26. Otherwise, the average temperature was 72.3 degrees in Miami, 71.4 degrees in Fort Lauderdale and 70.7 degrees in West Palm Beach.

Only January saw readings in the 30s and 40s, while December and February were toasty. Of note, it was the warmest December on record in West Palm Beach, the second warmest in Miami and the fourth warmest in Fort Lauderdale.

The winter also was wetter than normal, at least in West Palm Beach, which recorded 15.82 inches of rain – 6.49 inches more than average. Miami registered 7.74 inches, or 1.83 more than normal.

The soggy conditions largely were the result of stalled cold fronts, one of which triggered a whopping 22.2 inches in Boynton Beach on Jan. 9-10. On the other hand, Fort Lauderdale saw 6.71 inches of rain over the winter months, or 2.34 inches below normal.

The weather service outlook calls warmer than normal conditions through May with about normal rainfall.

kkaye@tribune.com or 561-243-6530.