We felt the heat across Central Florida in February. Temperatures were in the 80s and the humidity made it sticky. Florida was the sore thumb that stuck out for many days as the warmest spot for almost all of February. The warmth was due to persistent high-pressure systems located over the southeast U.S. and many days of being under a ridge that peaked in from the south, providing sinking hot air.
Across the three official climate sites in Central Florida, there was record-setting warmth, not only for warm maximum and warm minimum temperatures but also the month of February in its entirety.
Orlando’s average temperature was 70.1 degrees, which is 7.1 degrees above average. February 2019 comes in second for the warmest temperature on record, with records dating back to 1892. The warmest February on record was 2018, with 71.8 degrees.
Besides the overall month record, there were four warm minimum temperature records tied. Research shows that warm nights are increasing across the globe. Warmer nights mean more electricity for our air conditioners to run and make it the harder for our bodies to recoup from the day’s heating, which could ultimately affect our health.
Daytona Beach had its third-hottest February, with an average temperature of 67.8 degrees, which is 7.4 degrees above average. The second-hottest February was in 2018 and the hottest was in 1932, averaging 68.9 and 69.3 degrees, respectively.
There was a record warm minimum set on Feb. 24 at Daytona Beach and a record high temperature tied on Feb. 12. Several nights and days were close to breaking or tying records.
The temperature in Melbourne in February was also well above average, taking the third spot with an average temperature of 70.4 degrees, That is 7.7 degrees above average for the month. The hottest February on record for Melbourne was 2018, with an average temperature of 73.7 and the second hottest was February 1947, with 70.9 degrees.
There were notable warm days in Melbourne, with 16 days under partly cloudy conditions and 12 with sunny skies. Record high temperatures were set on Feb. 18 (89 degrees) and on Feb. 12 (88 degrees). A record warm minimum temperature was set on Feb. 19, when the temperature only dropped to 69 degrees.
A new season
With February ending, it is also the end of meteorological, or climatological, winter. In meteorology, we split our seasons into three-month periods. December, January and February make winter, the next three months make spring and so on.
Meteorological seasons don’t align with astronomical seasons perfectly because meteorological seasons are based on annual temperature cycle as well as our calendar, and astronomical seasons are based on the Earth’s rotation around the sun and on the equinoxes and solstices. Astronomical spring officially starts on March 20 and ends on June 21.
A look ahead
For the next three months, known as meteorological spring, climate forecasts show a 40 percent chance of having above-average temperatures in Florida and a 40 percent chance for above-average precipitation. Does this mean it will be hot and rainy every day? No. We will have some cool, dry days with temperatures on par with normal. But once June is done and we look back to average temperatures and rainfall, those months will have remained hotter and wetter than normal.
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