Winter came this weekend to Tampa Bay not with a gust of cold, crisp, Christmas-like air, but with temperatures in the 80s that set record highs in some parts of the region, according to a Bay News 9 meteorologist.
In Lakeland, it was 85 degrees on Saturday, the winter solstice. The record high there, reached in 1998, was 82. Bradenton also set a record with a high of 87 degrees, surpassing an earlier record of 86.
The weather in Tampa and St. Petersburg was only slightly less sweltering. At 82, the high in St. Petersburg matched the record set in 1931. And in Tampa, the city's 84-degree weather fell just short of the 85-degree record high from 1998.
Bay News 9 meteorologist Josh Linker said the area owes these high temperatures to an unusual weather pattern that has parts of the Northwest experiencing extremely cold weather while people on the East Coast sweat through their winter jackets. But Linker said he expects this will change Tuesday, when a cold front is projected to arrive here.
"Today and tomorrow will be unseasonably warm, and then it will actually be cooler than normal on Tuesday," he said.
Highs today are expected to be in the 80s again.
Looking ahead to the rest of the week, Tampa Bay residents can expect temperatures in the high 60s to early 70s, with lows in the 50s. Christmas morning could be in the 40s, Linker said. It's expected to warm up to 71.