January is normally the coldest month of the year – but not this time around.
Indeed, last month was one of the warmest Januarys on record, 4 to 6 degrees above normal, continuing an overall trend of this winter being warmer and drier than normal, the National Weather Service said today.
Even November was cooler, said meteorologist Robert Molleda.
“November 2012 so far has been the coolest month of the fall-winter season in South Florida,” he said. “This has only occurred four other times in the last 100 years, and not since 1949-1950.”
The outlook for February: More of the same, warmer and drier than normal. On the other hand, February still could see freezing temperatures, forecasters said.
Specifics about January temperatures:
West Palm Beach had an average temperature of 71.8 degrees, 6.1 degrees above normal. That made it the 11th warmest January on record for that city.
Fort Lauderdale had an average temperature of 73 degrees, 4 degrees above normal. This tied it with the fifth warmest January on record in Fort Lauderdale.
Miami had an average temperature of 73.2 degrees, 5 degrees above normal. That ties it with the third fourth warmest January on record for the Miami area.
From Jan. 2 through 16, Miami saw 15 consecutive days with maximum temperatures of 80 degrees or higher. This tied the all-time record for consecutive 80-plus degree days during January.
The reason for the unusually warm temperatures: A persistent area of high pressure, extending from the Caribbean across most of Florida, shielded the region from cold fronts.
“While most of the country endured bouts of Arctic air masses, these shots of cold air did not make it into the southern portion of Florida,” he said.
Only three significant fronts made it this far, an “unusually low number for this time of year,” Molleda added.
Another indicator of just warm January was: temperatures didn’t drop below 50 degrees at South Florida’s main weather reporting sites.
“Even the colder interior locations of southern Florida did not observe temperatures below 40 degrees,” Molleda said.
Because cold fronts were scarce, so was rain during January. Most of South Florida received less than an inch of rain the entire month.
Specifically, Fort Lauderdale received .98 inches of rain, West Palm Beach .79 inches and Miami .54 inches.
Since Nov. 1, most of South Florida has seen less than half of its normal rainfall, Molleda said.