It’s been a yo-yo weather pattern in southwest Florida all month. The pattern is expected to continue into 2013.
In case you haven’t noticed, southwest Florida’s weather has been on a roller coaster ride. The month started out with warm days and cool nights. That was followed by almost a week of warm and humid weather (day and night). Then a significant cold front came through, dropping temperatures to near seasonal averages.
We warmed up anew, but were then blasted by the coldest weather since February 2012. The daytime high in Naples only reached 66 degrees on Dec. 21. On the morning of Dec. 22, the mercury tumbled to 42 degrees in Naples proper. In suburban and rural areas, frost graced escaped areas of the landscape (Fig. 1 and Fig. 2). Readings on Dec. 21 and Dec. 22 were about 10 degrees below the seasonal average. When coupled with an average northerly wind of almost 12 miles per hour on Dec. 21 (gusts peaking at 28 miles per hour), it really felt cold!
Then temperatures recovered to slightly above seasonal averages. On Christmas Day, the mid-afternoon temperature in Naples reached 79 degrees (3 degrees warmer than seasonal average).
Today promises to be similar to yesterday with a high again in the upper 70’s. However, winds will be increasing throughout the day, becoming southwesterly at 15 to 20 miles per hour with higher gusts, before a strong cold front roars through the area by evening (Fig. 3). Scattered showers and thunderstorms are expected to accompany the front.
Thursday will be markedly chillier with highs again remaining in the upper 60’s (even with abundant sunshine), albeit with lighter winds than the front of last week. Thursday night will be chilly, as well (Fig. 4). However, readings across the region should remain well above freezing, even in normally chillier spots.
Don’t blink, but Friday will see a rebound in afternoon temperatures, with highs rising back into the upper 70’s.
We’ll only briefly enjoy the milder conditions until another front blows through the area late on Saturday (Fig. 5).
Just as quickly, an ensuing warm-up will carry us into the New Year. In fact, as we head into the new year, Florida promises to be the warmest spot in the lower 48 states.
This yo-yo weather pattern isn’t unusual for the winter season; however, the rapid-fire pace at which the fronts are arriving is. By my numbers, if this forecast verifies, we will have had four cold fronts pass through southwest Florida in 10 days!
Still, I think all of us will take this weather pattern over that of places further north. For example, Little Rock, AR had to shovel a foot of snow on Christmas Day; Minneapolis has been freezing or colder since 8:00 a..m. C.S.T on Dec. 16, and parts of Alabama and Mississippi have suffered through two active tornado days in the past week.
© 2012 H. Michael Mogil