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Winter was warmest in 62 years, fifth-warmest overall

It was warmest winter in 62 years.

The three-month stretch of December through February was the fifth warmest in more than 120 years of record-keeping, weather experts say.

It has been great for tourists and led to a bumper crop of strawberries. Better beach weather. No chilly commutes. Less worrying about protecting plants from freezes.

But the weather also encourages mosquitoes and promotes wildfires, potentially causing bigger problems this spring.

The average temperature this winter was 66.1 degrees at Tampa International Airport, a location that never officially dropped below freezing. The coldest day, Feb. 12, had a low of 34 degrees.

The last time Tampa had a warmer average temperature dates back to the winter of 1949 and 1950, when temperatures averaged 67 degrees, said National Weather Service Meteorologist Paul Close.

What a difference a year makes.

Last winter was the 16th coldest winter on record, coming in at an average of 58.9 degrees. The previous winter was the 10th coldest, with an average of 57.7, Close said.

It's also the 12th-driest winter on record, he added.

Bay News 9 meteorologist Juli Marquez said it has been a great year for tourists who come to the area hoping for warm weather.

"The last thing you want is for people to get off a plane and have it be just as cold as when they left," she said. "We've really been able to have that kind of winter for them."

Winter was warmest in 62 years, fifth-warmest overall 03/06/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 8:30pm]
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