So many people ask: Does it snow in Florida? Hardly will snowfall in Florida, especially in the state’s southern and central portions. Exempting the state’s far northern areas, most of Florida’s major cities rarely record measurable snowfall, although some trace amounts (little snow) have been recorded as well as flurries seen a few times in a century.
The National Weather Service revealed that, in the Key West and the Florida Keys, snow flurries have not been heard of since the region’s settlement. In Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, and Miami, there’s just one case of reported snow flurries in January 1977.
Due to the subtropical climate and low latitude of Florida, temperatures that are cold enough to support great snowfall are not frequent and it has a fleeting duration. Generally, compared to snow, frost is more frequent, needing temperatures of about 32 degrees Fahrenheit or less at 7ft (2m) above sea level, relative humidity of 65% and higher, and a cloudless sky.
Generally, for the occurrence of snow to happen, the polar jet stream has to be moved southward via Texas and then is transported into the Gulf of Mexico, with a cold front that is stalled across the state’s southern portion curving to the northeast to combine the freezing air with the frontal clouds.
When there’s an occurrence of light snowfall each decade across the panhandle of the north, the majority of the state is far south of the air masses that generate snowfall in the remaining parts of the country.
What year did it snow in Florida?
There was heavy snowfall in Florida in 1977, which is forty-two years ago. This time, Central Florida seemed like the American Midwest when snow fell throughout the sunshine state. From recorded history, this is the first time snow fell in South Florida, as revealed by the National Weather Service.
On 19th January 1977, the Miami News (now defunct) front-page headline revealed the surprise of the residents of Florida: “Snow in Miami!” Recently, in 2017, snow flurries were seen in the northern part of Florida, but the year 1977 was known to be one of the United States’ coldest years as revealed by The Weather Channel.
The National Weather Service revealed that temperatures were pushed to frigid conditions by an arctic front with Miami having a high 47 degrees, which is the 2nd coldest afternoon in the history of the city.
In Orlando, residents could use snow flurries to trace outlines on car surfaces and make snowballs. Red Huber, a renowned photojournalist, who retired recently after working for 46 years at the sentinel, talked about his time while covering the snowfall event. Back then, he was just in his late 20s and had worked for Sentinel for five years already.
Huber revealed that it was his very first time seeing snow in Florida and he felt it was the world’s coolest thing. He also disclosed that he captured the scenes as everyone seemed very happy about it.
As reported by the Weather channel, two inches of snow dropped at the Winter Haven which destroyed 35% of the citrus crops in Florida and caused rolling blackouts throughout the state.
On 21st January 1977, the exact day President Jimmy Carter assumed office, the front page of the Sentinel revealed that the loss of orange was about 50 million boxes, which is about 25% of the whole crops of that season.
First Snow in Florida in 29 years
The last snow in Florida occurred on 3rd January 2018. Florida saw its first snowfall in over thirty years after a winter storm hit the southeastern part of the United States.
The weather office of the capital of the sunshine state, Tallahassee measured roof snow of about 0.25cm, which is the first time it experienced snow since the year 1989.
Lots of excited locals and even the police force shared pictures and videos on Twitter of the very rare condition. In northeast Florida, about two to three inches (5 to 8 cm of snow) were expected, where warnings like freezing temperatures, power cuts, and icy roads have been obvious.
Warming shelters were opened for residents and there was a cancellation of flights meant to travel out of the Tallahassee Airport, with the closure of water attractions at some of the popular theme parks of Florida.
Governors of North Carolina and Georgia, meanwhile, teamed up with their Florida counterpart to declare an emergency state, after the record-breaking snowfall led to about 17 deaths across the United States.
What Caused this Snow in Florida?
The Eastern part of the United States started the year 2018, just like it ended the year 2017 which was bone-chillingly cold. Many revelers of the New Year’s Eve endured low temperatures which only got colder.
Ice and snow in Florida hardly come. As mentioned earlier, Tallahassee, which is its capital hasn’t experienced snowfall in about twenty-eight years. But even though spotting snow on palm trees is strange, the look seems to approve global warming.
Just like other times, when it becomes very cold that a winter coat becomes necessary, deniers of climate change have reasoned that due to the chilly weather, global warming wouldn’t be happening. This is not true because the frigid temperatures may be caused by global warming.
Could Global Warming be the Cause?
Mother Jones, in 2016 talked about Jennifer Francis and the other scientists that believed that global warming plays a role in very cold snaps. In her discussion, she said that the way it works must be understood. First of all, it helps in thinking of the jet stream as an air river flowing from the west to the east in the northern part of the hemisphere, bringing much of our weather with it. Sometimes, its motion takes a straight path and in some cases, a loopier path, which is driven by the temperature difference between the North Pole and the equator.
Of course, southern temperatures seem warmer and because more space is taken by warm air compared to cold air, this results in taller air columns in the atmosphere. This jet stream flows in the northward direction. However, the earth’s rotation also bends the jet stream, resulting in its eastward, wavy direction.
As soon as there is a rapid heat up in the arctic, the difference in temperature between the poles and the equator lessens and the atmosphere’s downhill slope becomes less steep.
Another thing to remember is that climate and weather do not mean the same thing. As explained by the National Weather Service, the climate is what is expected by people, while the weather is what you get. Weather is the temperature daily, while the averages of these temperatures over a long period are referred to as climate. Although most parts of the United States ended the year 2017 with great temperatures (record-breaking), on record, it is still referred to as the 2nd hottest year. The long-term, clear trends are more important compared to the snow the residents of Tallahassee saw in early 2018.
Florida Winter Forecast
The weather experts at the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), have made some winter forecasts for the year 2019 to 2020 which predicts that Florida will have a warmer season with normal precipitation. Its forecasters are even predicting that the whole nation will experience a warmer winter (not even a section of the U.S is predicted to have temperatures that are colder than normal in the winter.
However, before deciding to keep your jackets, you should remember that even when there is a warm winter in Florida, there is a possibility that bites in the air and periods of cold will still happen.
The organization distances itself from projecting snowfall accumulations seasonally, revealing that the forecasts of snow generally, are impossible to tell until that particular week before the arrival of the snow.
With milder temperatures, forecasters are expecting some areas to have more precipitation. The National Weather Service released its 2019-2020 winter forecasts on Thursday saying that this winter, Hawaii, and Alaska, as well as the Great Lakes, the upper Mississippi Valley, and parts of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic will most likely experience conditions that are wetter than average.
Asides the prediction of the NOAA, there are other predictions for the year 2019 and 2020, but it’s very difficult to find a consensus when it has to do with the weather.
Paul Pastelok, who is a long-range forecaster for AccuWeather revealed that the Southeast will most likely experience wetness in some months. Both the devotees of the Old Farmer’s Almanac and the Farmers’ Almanac are prepared for a mild winter, which publishers have said will be drier and milder than usual.
These two outfits used “secret formulas” to make their predictions and only time will tell if they are right or wrong.
So many people ask “how often does it snow in Florida?” The simple fact is, Florida hardly experiences snow. The very few times it occurred, it was loved by everyone in the state. Though there were some ugly incidences, this doesn’t dispute the fact that snows are lovely experiences that lasts a lifetime.
Other posts you might be interested: